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Toilet Paper – Everything You Ever Wanted to Know

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Do you know when toilet paper was invented? Do you know where it even came from? Here’s a fun post on everything you ever wanted to know about toilet paper. And keep reading for a free recipe on how to make your own!

Everything you ever wanted to know about toilet paper pin

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Since we’re going through a major toilet paper crisis all over the world right now, I thought it would be fun to learn more about the stuff people are hoarding.

By the way, diarrhea is not a symptom of the coronavirus, so that much toilet paper is not needed. Just saying.

So where did toilet paper come from and who in the world thought this stuff up?

Who invented toilet paper?

Joseph Gayetty, a New York entrepreneur, designed aloe-infused sheets of manila hemp in 1857. Gayetty claimed that his aloe-infused sheets prevented hemorrhoids. He was so proud of his invention that he had his name printed on every sheet!

However, this idea didn’t last long because people didn’t want to purchase this product when they had something better coming in the mail for free – the Sears and Roebuck catalog. The catalog even had a small hole in the corner to make hanging easier.

In 1890, two brothers – Clarence and Irvin Scott – invented the idea of putting toilet paper on a roll. They didn’t claim their invention, however, and decided to only sell to hotels and drugstores. Since they were embarrassed about bodily functions, the public didn’t want to purchase this, either.

Personally I’d be more embarrassed about getting caught behind a tree wiping my bottom with a pine cone, but maybe that’s just me.

Toilet paper didn’t give up, though. Later on, in 1928 the Hoberg Paper Company of Wisconsin tried a much softer version of the invention. It was once said that the feminine and elegant packaging was “charming” and therefore Charmin toilet paper was born.

charmin toilet paper ad

Fun Toilet Paper Facts

  • Two-ply toilet paper has two layers of 10 thickness paper. One-ply is made of a 13 thickness paper. Therefore, two-ply is not necessarily twice the thickness.
  • One-ply lasts twice as long and breaks down in a septic system faster.
  • The average roll lasts about 5 days in the average household.
  • Americans use about 57 squares a day.
  • 7% of Americans steal toilet paper rolls from hotel rooms.
  • It’s estimated that one tree can make 1,500 rolls.
  • There used to be a toilet paper museum in Wisconsin, but it closed in 2000.
  • The most expensive toilet paper in the world is made of 22-karat gold flakes and costs $1,500,00 for one roll.
Americans, on average, use 57 squares of toilet paper a day and 50 poounds a year, spending over $6 billion a year. Click To Tweet

Substitutions for Toilet Paper

This is not the first toilet paper crisis we’ve ever had. Tonight Show host Johnny Carson joked about a toilet paper shortage in December 1973, which caused Americans to rush out to their local grocery stores and buy as much toilet paper as they possibly could.

So what happens when we run out of the good stuff? We find other alternatives. Tissues, paper towels, and baby wipes are great to use. (Don’t flush the last two!)

Substitutions from around the house

  • Paper: Any paper will work – newspaper, printer paper, notebook paper, etc. Crumple it up to soften it and then burn it afterward.
  • Sponge: In ancient Rome, a sponge placed on the end of a stick was used to clean with after using the bathroom. Sponges do hold in bacteria, so after using, boil it then rinse it out.
  • Water: Bidet sales have shot up during this toilet paper crisis and for very good reason. Water rinses everything right off! Don’t want to buy a bidet? Use a spray bottle or a hose. And if this crisis continues into winter snow is also a great option. That kinda gives snowball fights a new meaning.
  • Cloth: Old bed sheets, towels, t-shirts, or anything made out of fabric will do the trick. Just please don’t flush it! Read this to find out why!
Roman Toilet paper

Substitutions from outside

  • Leaves: Maple, Large-leaved aster, fuzzy lamb’s ear, and thimbleberry all work great. Know your leaves before you wipe! The last thing you need right now is poison oak or ivy in your nether regions.
  • Moss: Moss is soft and a great substitute for toilet paper. You can pick it up in clumps, just make sure it doesn’t fall apart while using. (Gross!)
  • Pine cones: Probably not the softest option, but if you’ve got some stuff that needs scraping off, these will do the job!
  • Hemp: Hemp grows quickly, so this is a great option if you have access to hemp plants.
  • Stones: I know! Stones? Yes! Pick a nice small to medium size smooth stone and it can even be cleaned and reused!
  • Corn husks and cobs: Back in the pioneer days, farms grew a lot of corn. The husks were saved and taken to the outhouse for wiping. So for all my farmhouse decorators out there, it’s not a real farmhouse unless there’s an outhouse full of cornhusks!
Corn cob toilet paper

How to Make Your Own Toilet Paper

As promised, I have a recipe for making your own toilet paper! This one is for Holly because she’s been begging me for some toilet paper DIY! She seriously cracks me up and keeps me going, so I had to do this for her.

What you need:

What you do:

  1. Soak the paper in water first to remove most of the ink. Remove from the water.
  2. Place the paper in the pot with some grass and leaves (about 2 handfuls) and cover with water. Bring it to a boil and let simmer for at least an hour.
  3. After an hour is up, bring the water to a rolling boil. Foam will form on the top so carefully remove it.
  4. The paper becomes a pulp after boiling. Remove the water from the pot without disturbing the pulp. Scoop most of the water out with the ladle. Take the pulp out of the pot if you need to but put it back in as soon as the water is gone. Don’t let it dry out.
  5. Mix 4 tablespoons of oil or lotion with the pulp to soften it.
  6. Spread the mixture out on a sheet or towel on a hard, flat surface. Roll it out with the rolling pin making sure to get it as thin as possible. Hammer down any lumps with the mallet or hammer.
  7. Lay the flat board on top of the rolled out pulp and cover with heavy objects. Leave for about 30 minutes, then remove the board.
  8. Place the pulp still on the towel outside to dry in the sun. Once dry, cut into strips.

There you have it! I bet that’s a lot more than you ever wanted to know about toilet paper. But if you run out of tp, at least have other options. And you can make your own if you want!

How’s your toilet paper stash? Are you good or do you need to stock up? If you’re out, don’t worry. There will be more soon.

stock up

Before you go, check out these amazing hacks!

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131 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing Michelle, that was interesting to read.

    1. Thank you! I thought it would be nice to try something a little fun today.

      1. πŸŒ»πŸ˜‚πŸ‘

  2. This was a fun and informative post! I enjoyed learning about the background on Charmin. Thanks Michelle! 😊

    1. Thank you! I thought it would be a fun way to break out of all the crazy for a little bit.

      1. You’re welcome! It definitely was!

  3. Great research! I had no idea that one day I’d have so much interest to know about this found πŸ˜‰πŸ€£πŸ™πŸ’–πŸ‘πŸ’–

    1. Haha! Thank you so much! It was actually a lot of fun writing about toilet paper! πŸ˜€

  4. Way too much info! But thanks for sharing.

    1. Haha!! I needed something fun to take my mind off the crazy. πŸ™‚

      1. I can believe you in response πŸ˜„πŸ€—πŸ‘

  5. Oh my! So someone I know looked up tp facts and said one of the earlier versions was advertised as “splinter free”!! Can you imagine?! Have you tried this recipe?? Inquiring minds want to know!!! We made regular paper last year in homeschool co-op out of newspaper. The ink was still in it. I think it was just water and shredded newspaper that soaked a long while. Then we squeezed out the water in a screen. The end result looked a lot like a paper egg carton!

    Liberty from B4andAfters.com

    1. Oh my! Well, at least it’s still splinter-free! haha! I haven’t actually tried this recipe yet, but I have it saved so I can just for fun. Making your own paper sounds like a lot of fun, too!

  6. Wow! What a process it is to make toilet paper! I never knew. I would rather just grab a leaf πŸƒπŸ LOL! Thanks for sharing the fun facts of toilet paper during this toilet paper crisis! πŸ˜ƒ

    1. Haha! Me, too! A leaf would be much quicker! πŸ˜€ Thank you so much for reading!

    2. This was fun to read and very informative. I shall save the recipe to make toilet tissue. You never know when it might come in handy.πŸ™‚ Thanks

      1. Thank you! Yes, you just never know. Especially with the way things are going right now. πŸ™‚

  7. Great post! One note to your readers. The Spanish moss we have in the south can be filled with red bugs (chiggers). You get those in your house and you have a real problem. I suppose if you cook this outside on your grill, the boiling water would kill them off. I learned this lesson 30 years ago when I used Spanish moss to decorate for Halloween. 😊. Now you have something else to write about. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ you’re welcome!

    1. Oh my chiggers, ughhh. Lol, those halloween decorations brought more in than good looks.

      1. They sure did! The kids were little and it took awhile to realize what happened.

        1. Oh my my my.

    2. Oh no! I didn’t even think of the chiggers. I hate those little things. That would make a very interesting post! πŸ˜€ Thank you for sharing! And no more moss for Halloween decorations. πŸ™‚

      1. I think there may be ways to smother them but I will leave that research up to you. It would still be nice if we could use it for the toilet paper and Halloween. πŸŽƒ

        1. I remember my dad putting clear fingernail polish on them when I was little. I guess that worked! πŸ™‚

          1. Yes that was known to smother them. I remember my grandma doing that to me in Texas and I did it for my kids.

  8. LOL very funny Michelle and thank God we’ve come a long way since those days. xoxo

    1. Thank you! I agree! I’m very thankful for indoor plumbing and toilet paper! πŸ™‚

  9. Oh my goodness! This is too funny! And interesting! I hope we don’t have to resort to making our own or using stones!

    1. Haha!! I agree! It would take me forever to find a smooth stone! πŸ˜€

  10. Great post Michelle! Toilet paper sold out here 2 weeks ago and the shelves are still empty! Going to be a long time yet before leaves are available around here! Have a wonderful Friday!πŸ˜‚πŸ˜ΉπŸŒžβ˜•β˜•

    1. Thank you! Oh no! I hope the stores get some more in soon. It has been like that here, too, with stores limiting the amount you can get now. If you find yourself in need I can send you some pine cones! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

      1. That’s quite alright, lots of pine cones along my path to the river!πŸ˜‚πŸ˜ΉπŸ™„

        1. 🀣🀣

  11. Interesting read Michelle. With the toilet paper craziness going on this was quite the right time as I don’t think I would have been so interested to know about it.

    1. Thank you! I thought it would be fun to break up the crazy for a little bit. πŸ˜€

  12. Wow, you’re really on a roll… πŸ™‚

    1. Haha!! Only you! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

  13. Oh my goodness, this post was such fun to read. A lot of work I hope I never have to make any. Now I grew up in South America and whenever we ran out of toilet paper which was pretty often…the news papers did the trick.
    The sponge idea ….. oh Lord no, to have to boil it….never … hopefully life does not fall to a new low.

    1. Thank you!! I agree! I couldn’t boil the sponge after using it. I’d have to burn it! πŸ˜€ Hopefully the toilet paper situation gets better so we don’t have to start using any of these substitutions!

      1. Oh dear God yes.

  14. Fascinating! My husband makes his own art paper from papyrus which happens to grow in the garden. We could be millionaires soon! Oh, but I forgot, we’re in lockdown. No going out to sell.

    1. That’s so cool! I suppose you could sell online. Toilet paper is going for at least $300 now so you’ll be rich in no time! πŸ˜‚

  15. Super! After all, what did the ancients do? Did you see the funny video about the Black Market? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHOW3h5mDcQ

    1. Haha!! That’s such a funny video! I’m surprised that’s not actually happening around here! πŸ˜‚

  16. this was by far one of your best post Michelle. Wow! I’ve learned so much, and funny too- imagine gold fakes – just amazing thanks for tips and advice.

    1. Thank you so much!! πŸ™‚ I cannot believe there is such a thing as toilet paper made out of gold flakes. The things people will do! πŸ˜‚

  17. 🀣🀣🀣 You are the absolute best Michelle! I really got a great laugh out of this post and it was fascinating to read on top of that!! What you said about me was so sweet…sending you loads of love in return! πŸ€—

    It’s funny you should mention the bidet. Hubby was the one who suggested this the other night. Who would’ve thunk we’d ever be in this predicament here in the USA? It’s just kind of surreal. Our sense of humor is a HUGE blessing at this point! You’ve certainly made my day.

    And you’re right! If we’re going to go ‘all out farmhouse style,’ lets get real and put those cornhusks to work. Maybe dab a squirt or two of aloe… oh my! 😲

    Love everything about this post Michelle!! Ha ha, too funny!

    1. Thank you!! I’m so glad you enjoyed it! And everything I said was true!

      My husband suggested the same thing! Most of them were already sold out online! It has become like a crazy made for TV movie out there!

      Yes, add that aloe so you get all the softness! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

  18. This is great!!!! I’m still scratching my head why anyone would stock up on so much toilet paper. I get wanting comfort and that it may run out, but I guess I’ve been through many hard times in my life where I made do with what was available – usually that’s napkins I save from fast food, or tissues. There was one time I used old cut up rags. As a little girl, my parents took us camping a lot and we improvised there too, with leaves. Sounds a little gross but ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

    1. I know what you mean. We’ve been in similar situations before. You just have to do what you have to do. But I’ll certainly never panic buy toilet paper. πŸ˜‚ Thank you!!

  19. christinafayerepurposed says:

    This was so fun to read! I have never even thought about where toilet paper came from. Or even making my own lol! Oh…I also want a couple of rolls of the 22-karat gold toilet paper please….haha! Thank you for making me smile today much needed!

    1. Haha! Can you believe someone made toilet paper out of gold? Who in the world even thinks of doing stuff like that? πŸ˜‚ I’m glad it made you smile! πŸ™‚

      1. christinafayerepurposed says:

        Folks who have so much money they can’t think of anything else to spend it on πŸ€£πŸ˜‚

  20. Hahaha! Humor and practicality, too. I always love how useful your posts are, Michelle. Sometimes I sit and wonder about how things were invented, so this was actually very interesting. We are lucky to have enough for our needs right now and praying for and extending a hand to our neighbors. <3 <3 <3

    1. Thank you so much! I’m glad your needs have been met and you’re able to help others in need. That’s wonderful! You’re truly blessed! πŸ™‚

  21. Teresa says:

    Great post!!
    Very enjoyable and funny to read .. Interesting too, I never knew about the toilet roll history!!
    Hope we don’t resort to pine ones lol!!
    I wonder who on earth purchases the gold toilet roll ? I’d like to spend the night in that household lol!!!

    1. Thank you! Me, too! And right after we had to cut down our pine tree, too. πŸ˜‚ I would love to meet the person that buys that toilet paper. And hopefully make my way into their will! πŸ˜€

  22. I don’t know if I can wait until 25,020…but it seems I may have to.

    1. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ That’s a long time to wait for toilet paper!

  23. Thanks for a much needed smile.

  24. This is hysterical, I had NO IDEA there were recipes for making your own toilet paper! I sincerely hope it doesn’t come to that with this shortage. You made me laugh out loud when you mentioned diarrhea πŸ˜„. True – it’s not a symptom so why are people hoarding it?? I heard a joke it’s because every time a person hears someone else cough, they poop themselves! Oh my gosh, I sooo wish I had a bidet right now!!

    1. Right? I don’t want to have to make my own because it’s just too much work. 🀣 That joke is too funny!!! And probably true. A bidet is sounding really good during this tp crisis. πŸ˜€

      1. I went to the grocery store today and got 5 rolls of toilet paper! I feel like I won the lottery!! πŸ˜‰πŸ˜„

        1. Awesome!!! My cousin found 2 packs he had stocked up in his garage. Unfortunately, his garage had flooded and the toilet paper was molded. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

          1. Yikes, not good! I think you just have to hit the store at the right moment and that’s so difficult to calculate.

  25. In this situation very helpful info… Thanks Camilla

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you found it helpful! 😊

  26. That was an amusing and lighthearted history and craft lesson for the day in light of what is going on right now. The bidet is sounding more and more viable every day that goes by.

    1. Thank you! I thought it would be fun to lighten things up. 😊

  27. I loved this, Michelle! Just delightful and fun, which we need right now! And you’ve outdone yourself in the do-it-yourself department. πŸ™‚ Let’s all remember that this will all come out well in the end. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Have a great weekend!

    1. Thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I thought we could all us a little break. 😊 Have a wonderful weekend!

      1. You too, Michelle. Blessings!

  28. Great post.

    1. Thank you so much!! πŸ€—

      1. My pleasure.❀️

  29. I never knew there was so much to tell about TP! Very informative and enjoyable reading!

    1. Thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed it. 😊

  30. Great post. My son reminded me when there was no longer toilet paper in the stores due to people hoarding them, β€œ dad, there’s water & soap, then take a shower!” Be safe & take care

    1. Haha! Your son is smart! It makes sense to me! πŸ˜€

  31. Very fun πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you so much!

  32. Hahah this is brilliant! I really don’t know why people have been stockpiling loo roll. I wondered whether there’s a way of freezing and boiling it that makes it edible. Boggles the mind.

    I never knew how toilet paper first started so that’s really interesting! How very humble of Mr Gayetty, imprinting his own name on each sheet. These days he’d be sued for making such a ridiculous claim about it preventing haemorrhoids πŸ˜‚ Is that a real thing with the Sears catalogue having a hole in the corner and people using that as loo roll?!

    My mind has been blown by the fun facts. Really brilliant post, it’s definitely lightened the mood!
    Caz xx

    1. I really hope people are not out there eating toilet paper. Ugh! Yes, the hole in the Sears catalog is a real thing! Can you believe that!? haha!
      Thank you so much for reading!! I hope you’re doing well! πŸ™‚

    1. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

  33. That is a really clever tp recipe and I really loved your vintage Charmin photo. So cute!

    1. Thank you!! I love vintage ads. πŸ™‚

  34. I hope I don’t have to go to DIY toilet paper. Still can’t find it in the stores. I have hope that toilet paper will find its way into the stores again.

    1. I hope so, too. My mom found 2 rolls and my dad was lucky enough to find some more. This is crazy!

  35. Awesome, Michelle.

    1. Thank you!!

  36. This was so interesting! I never thought about the history of toilet paper! Thankfully I stocked up at Costco a few weeks before the craziness started so I’ve got enough for now. Good to know you can make your own too!

    1. Thank you! I’m glad yous stocked up so you didn’t have to worry about all the crazy mess. Thank you for reading!

  37. When I see a TV commercial for toilet paper, I will probably be laughing. I’m old enough to remember Johnny Carson’s monologue starting a hoarding stampede. More people believed Carson than Nixon.

    1. I saw a toilet paper commercial just the other day and I was wondering why they’re tempting us! haha! I guess a tv host was more trustworthy than a president. Sounds like not much has changed.

  38. Love this. Fun and interesting πŸ˜ƒ

    1. Thank you so much!!

  39. Wow. A whole lot to learn from this. It was very informative. The museum too. Wow. I never knew.
    The gold tissue got me. Like who would get that. πŸ™ˆ
    Thanks for sharing ma’am. πŸ€—

    1. I was wondering who buys gold toilet paper, too! haha!! Thank you!! πŸ™‚

  40. Thank you for sharing all the good information.

    1. You’re welcome! Thank you for reading!

  41. This is such an interesting post, thanks for taking the time to share this!

    1. Thank you!! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  42. Michelle, This was quite informative. You rolled out the paper.🧻 Thanks for sharing.

    1. Haha!! Thank you!! πŸ˜€

      1. You are welcome Michelle!! πŸ˜†

  43. This was so interesting and hilarious to read! I didn’t know anything about the origins of toilet paper before, so I have learned something new, haha! Also I had to laugh at the typo in your tweet (50 poounds 🀣) Luckily I have plenty of toilet paper at the moment but if I run out I will know to refer back to this post!

    1. Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I thought it would be fun to lighten up things a little. I hope you don’t have to make your own toilet paper! πŸ˜€

  44. What a dun and interesting read, well researched. Now people reading this should not worry aout the toilet paper crisis as there are so many alternatives. πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you! I was hoping to share something fun to lighten the situation a little. Hopefully toilet paper will start making its way back to the shelves soon. Thanks for reading! πŸ™‚

      1. Just noticed, I meant fun not dun…. oh these typos… πŸ™‚

        1. πŸ˜€

  45. Love the TP facts and substitution ideas Michelle! I’ve learnt a few things about TP today that I never knew before πŸ™‚ This is really a great post because who blogs about TP right? I love how you pick your topics for this blog! It must have taken you some time to research all this though…I get you…it’s time spent taking your mind off the rest πŸ™‚ Keep the blogging work going!

    1. Thank you! I was hoping to share something fun to lighten the mood a little. I think the gold toilet paper roll was probably the craziest thing I’ve seen. Who buys gold toilet paper? haha!

      1. Yep, agree with you on gold TP! Well, glad you achieved what you set off to do (lighten the mood) πŸ™‚ It definitely worked with me. Also pleased to hear you’re doing better now with regards to anxiety πŸ™‚ Well, have a nice week end and I’ll see you around on WordPress!

  46. Thanks for the great tips. I’d love if you’d guest blog post for my site. if you’re so inclined, here’s a link to general guidelines: https://wp.me/p6OZAy-1eQ

    1. Thank you so much! I’ll have to see what I can come up with. πŸ˜€

  47. What a fabulous and fun post! Exactly what is needed at the moment! Oh and I use Charmin but never realised it was so old! I love the idea of someone using a pinecone πŸ˜‚ thanks for this informative post, I will certainly be more appreciative of it going forward and if the worst happens at least I can make my own or use alternative. πŸ˜€

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it! I thought it would be fun to break up all the craziness for a little bit. πŸ˜€ I hope it doesn’t come to us having to make our own, but if we do now we know how! haha!

      1. It certainly made me smile! On a positive note I was in a shop today and there was loads of Toilet roll! I was surprised. But will certainly be keeping the recipe in my back pocket! Cos you never know! πŸ˜‰

        1. That is surprising! I still can’t find any here. If they don’t restock soon I may be making DIY toilet paper videos. πŸ˜€

          1. Well that’s a fab idea!! You should do do that anyway!! That would be fun x

  48. Still don’t understand the craze to buy toilet paper with the onset of the virus..πŸ€”My colleague said he would go one better … He would buy toilet plungers and brushes. πŸ™„πŸ˜

    1. Haha! I don’t understand the toilet paper craze, either. We still can’t find any! I hope you’re doing well! Thank you so much for commenting!

  49. Though I’m thankful for t,p., I must admit there are some photos of politicians in the newspaper that I’d enjoy using. πŸ™‚

    1. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ I agree! That would definitely be some great toilet paper!

  50. This is interesting! Thank goodness for toilet paper!

    1. Thank you! Yes, I agree! πŸ˜€

  51. Ahh this is interesting info! ….and $1500 for a roll of toilet paper…that would quickly β€œwipe” my pocket book out!!!πŸ˜…

    1. Haha!! I honestly have no idea who would pay that much for toilet paper! πŸ˜€

      1. Ya no doubt!!

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