Who Invented Toilet Paper?

White Toilet Paper Roll

Today it’s difficult to imagine life without toilet paper. The evolution of toilet paper is an interesting story and the toilet paper has an amazing past.

If we could travel back in time, what would we found about the first use of toilet paper? Who invented toilet paper? Who was using paper for personal hygiene? Who invented modern toilet paper roll?

Nobody is too sure when toilet paper was first used. Before the invention of toilet paper, people from different parts of the world had many different ideas for personal hygiene. Some people used stones or sponges (especially rich Romans), but a variety of other things were used also.

The first “official” toilet paper was introduced in China in 1391, but the first mention of toilet paper (paper for personal hygiene) dates back to the year 589 AD in Korea. Between 875 and 1317 AD, paper was produced in large sheets (2-foot x 3-foot sheets and even perfumed) for Chinese emperor’s family hygiene.

In the Colonial America, the common means was corncobs.

Paper was a rare commodity until the 17th or 18th centuries. The first reference to paper as toilet paper was recorded in 1718. After invention of paper pages from newspapers and magazines were also commonly used (newspapers became widely available at 1700s.)

Joseph C. Gayetty invented the first packaged toilet paper in the United States in 1857. Joseph C. Gayetty is credited as the inventor of modern commercially available toilet paper. "Gayetty’s Medicated Paper" was sold in packages of flat sheets, medicated with aloe and watermarked with his name. Gayety’s toilet paper was available as late as the 1920's.

In 1871, Seth Wheeler (to some sources Zeth Wheeler) of Albany became the official “inventor” of toilet paper. Seth Wheeler patents rolled and perforated wrapping paper. His Albany Perforated Wrapping Paper Company began selling the first toilet paper on a roll.

Rolled and perforated toilet paper was invented around 1880. In 1879, Thomas Seymour, Edward Irvin and Clarence Wood Scott founded the Scott Paper Company in Philadelphia. Scott brothers came up with the idea of customizing rolls for every merchant-customer they had. They began selling packages of small rolls and stacked sheets. Scott Paper Company began producing toilet paper under its own brand name in 1896. By 1925 Scott Company became the leading toilet paper company in the world.

The first documented use of a roll of toilet paper was in 1882 in New York State.

In 1935 Northern Tissue invented splinter free toilet paper. Simple paper making procedures often failed to remove small splinters from the finished product but Northern Paper engineers solved the problem (method called linenizing). Softer, splinter-free toilet paper then became a reality for consumers and provided an advertising slogan for Northern Tissue.

In 1942 St. Andrew’s Paper Mill (England, Walthamstow, London), produced the first soft, two ply toilet tissue.

In 1954 was produced the first colored toilet tissue by Northern.

In 1964 was produced perfumed one-ply toilet tissue by Charmin

America experienced its first toilet paper shortage in 1973 because Johnny Carson’s (one of America’s most loved comedians) jokes.

Who invented toilet paper? So many inventors, so many contradicting historical recourses... Who do you think was the inventor of toilet paper?