Toilet paper is a soft paper product used to maintain personal hygiene after human defecation or urination. It differs in composition somewhat from facial tissue, and is designed to decompose in septic tanks, which some other bathroom and facial tissues do not. Most septic tank manufacturers advise against using paper products that are non-septic tank safe. Different names are used for toilet paper in countries around the world, including "loo roll/paper," "toilet roll," "dunny roll/paper," "bog roll," "bathroom/toilet tissue," "jacks roll" or just "tissue."
Although paper had been known as a wrapping and padding material in China since the 2nd century BC, the first use of toilet paper in human history dates back to the 6th century AD, in early medieval China. In 589 AD the scholar-official Yan Zhitui (531–591) wrote about the use of toilet paper:
During the early 14th century (Yuan Dynasty) it was recorded that in modern-day Zhejiang province alone there was an annual manufacturing of toilet paper amounting in ten million packages of 1,000 to 10,000 sheets of toilet paper each. During the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644 AD), it was recorded in 1393 that 720,000 sheets of toilet paper (two by three feet in size) were produced for the general use of the Imperial court at the capital of Nanjing. From the records of the Imperial Bureau of Supplies (Bao Chao Si) of that same year, it was also recorded that for Emperor Hongwu's imperial family alone, there were 15,000 sheets of special soft-fabric toilet paper made, and each sheet of toilet paper was even perfumed.
Elsewhere, wealthy people used wool, lace or hemp for their ablutions, while less wealthy people used their hand when defecating into rivers, or cleaned themselves with various materials such as rags, wood shavings, leaves, grass, hay, stone, sand, moss, water, snow, maize husks, fruit skins, or seashells, and cob of the corn depending upon the country and weather conditions or social customs. In Ancient Rome, a sponge on a stick was commonly used, and, after usage, placed back in a bucket of saltwater.
The 16th century French satirical writer François Rabelais in his series of novels Gargantua and Pantagruel, discussing the various ways of cleansing oneself at the toilet, wrote that: "He who uses paper on his filthy bum, will always find his ballocks lined with scum", proposing that the soft feathers on the back of a live goose provide an optimum cleansing medium.
The Scott Brothers are often cited as being the first to sell rolled and perforated toilet paper, but unless they were doing so without a patent, the beginning of toilet paper and dispensers familiar in the 21st century is with Seth Wheeler of Albany, NY, who obtained several patents. The first of note is for the idea of perforating commercial papers (25 July 1871, #117355), the application for which includes an illustration of a perforated roll of paper. On 13 February 1883 he was granted patent #272369, which presented a roll of perforated wrapping or toilet paper supported in the center with a tube. Wheeler also had patents for mounted brackets that held the rolls. Under the name Albany Perforated Wrapping Paper Co., the product was manufactured as early as 1886 at their factory just north of downtown Albany.
In many parts of the world, especially where toilet paper or the necessary plumbing for disposal may be unavailable or unaffordable, toilet paper is not used. Cleansing is then performed with other methods or materials, such as water, for example using a bidet, rags, sand, leaves (including seaweed), corn cobs, animal furs, or sticks.
Today in some Muslim countries, toilet paper with added "wet strength" (chemicals to keep it from dissolving in water too quickly) is beginning to be accepted for drying (rather than cleaning, as is common in Western countries).
Toilet paper is available in several types of paper, a variety of colors, decorations, and textures, to appeal to individual preference. Toilet paper is sometimes made from recycled paper; however, large amounts of virgin tree pulp is still used. Environmentally friendly toilet paper may also be unbleached. Toilet paper products vary immensely in the technical factors that distinguish them: sizes, weights, roughness, softness, chemical residues, "finger-breakthrough" resistance, water-absorption, etc. The larger companies have very detailed, scientific market surveys to determine which marketing sectors require/demand which of the many technical qualities. Modern toilet paper may have a light coating of aloe or lotion or wax worked into the paper to reduce roughness. Quality is usually determined by the number of plies (stacked sheets), coarseness, and durability. Low grade institutional toilet paper is typically of the lowest grade of paper, has only one or two plies, is very coarse and sometimes has small amounts of unbleached/unpulped paper embedded in it. Mid-grade two ply is somewhat textured to provide some softness, and is somewhat durable. Premium toilet paper may have lotion and wax, and has two to four plies made of very finely pulped paper.
Two-ply toilet paper is the standard in many countries, although one-ply is often available and marketed as a budget option, it may also be more appropriate for use in toilets on boats and in camper-vans. Toilet paper, especially if it is marketed as "luxury", may be quilted or rippled (embossed), perfumed, colored or patterned, medicated (with anti-bacterial chemicals), treated with aloe, etc. Many novelty designs are also available on toilet paper, from cute cartoon animals to pictures of disfavored political celebrities to pictures of dollar bills. Women who are prone to vaginal Candidiasis yeast infections are advised by some medical experts to use white, unperfumed toilet paper.
Moist toilet paper was first introduced by the Kimberly-Clark in the United Kingdom by Andrex in the 1990s, and in the United States in 2001, two countries in which bidets are rare. It is designed to clean better than dry toilet paper after defecation, and may be useful for women during menstruation.
The manufacture of toilet paper is a large industry. 26 billion rolls of toilet paper, worth about US$2.4 billion, are sold yearly in America alone.
Agency Reviews Patent Application Approval Request for "Combination Waste Receptacle and Toilet Tissue Roll Storage Device"
Apr 04, 2013; By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Politics & Government Week -- A patent application by the inventors DERMO, Mario S....