The initial references of people using toilet paper for wiping goes all the way back to the 6th century AD in the Chinese Imperial Courts and amongst other wealthy citizens of China. This eventually resulted in the spread of toilet paper all across China. In the 14th century, there was an yearly manufacturing of around ten million toilet paper packs in the Zhejiang province alone.
But still, all this did not catch with the rest of the world for some years. There was a Muslim traveler to China in the 8th century who noted, “The Chinese were not careful about cleanliness, and they did not wash themselves with water when they are done with their necessities. They only wiped themselves with paper.”
So, what did people use before toilet paper?
So, to check when was toilet paper introduced in America and England, we will have to go back to the late 19th century. Rich people often used lace, wool, or hemp and on the other hand, poor people would simply go around the river to poop and clean off their butts with water, rags, wood, shavings, leaves, hay, moss, sand, rock, seaweed, seashells, apple husks, and some other things that were available for free.
If we talk about the Ancient Romans, one of their favorite wiping items, even at the public restrooms happened to be a sponge on a stick that would sit in salty water, and it got replaced once a person is done. Ancient Greeks also used stones and pieces of clay for wiping purposes. Fast-forwarding to modern times, America’s one of the favorite things for wiping purposes tended to be corn cobs. There were other things that Americans used, such as plant items and other catalogs.
In the 16th century, Francois Rabelais, a French writer, in his work Pantagruel and Gargantua noted that, after pooping, the paper was useless, “who his foul tail with paper wipes, shall at his bullocks leave some chips.”
If we talk about India and other Middle Eastern countries, people preferred to wipe off their butts with their left hand and water. Of course, they had to wash their hands well afterward. People in India and other Middle Eastern countries don’t handle any food items with their left hand. The common things that were used by seaman for wiping were old frayed anchor cables and a bit of sweater for rinsing. They even preferred using other things that were readily available for free.
In 1857, Joseph Gayetty started manufacturing toilet paper in the United States. Joseph Gayetty sold their toilet paper for about 50 cents a pack, which is $14 today. This was not popular until three brothers Edward, Clarence, and Thomas Scott started making and selling toilet papers.