BUNZL Cleaning & Hygiene Supplies Blog

INFOGRAPHIC: Roll Through The History Of Toilet Tissue

As one of life’s essentials it’s difficult to imagine life without toilet tissue, but step back in time as little as 100 years and it’s a very different story.

Toilet tissue offers a fascinating past, where everything from stones, to pieces of clay and even corncobs were used as primitive solutions to toilet tissue before it became commonplace in the modern world.


We were so wiped out by the history of toilet tissue that we’ve put together a visual timeline of its evolution to where it is today. Please take a look, download or share our infographic below, and let’s ‘roll through’ the history of toilet tissue together.

Roll Through the History of Toilet Tissue


The Ancient Greeks and Romans

Since the dawn of time we have been looking for post bathroom solutions, and the ancient Greeks and Romans were no different. It has been discovered that the ancient Greeks used clay and stone, and the Romans took it to a more advanced level equipping their public toilets with a sponge on a stick, resting in a bucket of brine. If you were well off and had more money at your disposable you could use wool.

Innovation Powered By The Chinese Emperors

It was in 1391 during the Song Dynasty that a Chinese emperor first introduced the concept of toilet tissue. During this time the Chinese emperor commissioned large 2-foot-by-3-foot paper sheets to be made for his ‘toilet time’. Despite this forward thinking, toilet tissue wouldn’t become commonplace for many hundreds of years to come. Even when the first flushing toilet was invented by Sir John Harrington, godson to Queen Elizabeth I in 1596, toilet tissue was still not readily available.

Modern Day Toilet Tissue Starts To Evolve

It was in the late 1800s that toilet tissue started to evolve into the product we all know and love today. In 1857 Joseph Gayetty introduced the first packaged toilet tissue in America named “Therapeutic Paper” that claimed to have medicinal properties to help with conditions such as haemorrhoids. In 1880, toilet paper reached Great Britain when the British Perforated Paper Company started production. The Scott brothers popularised the concept of toilet paper on a roll in 1890. However, at this point in time, it is an uphill battle to get the public to buy the product, as they are embarrassed by their bodily functions.

American Convinces The World To Wipe

In 1928 the Hoberg Paper Company introduced a brand called Charmin, which was cleverly marketed with a feminine logo. This move helped shift attitudes towards purchasing toilet tissue, and sales rocketed. Four years later, Charmin introduced its 4-roll package which made toilet tissue a convenient purchase for shoppers. Despite this, it wasn’t until 1935 that the first ‘splinter-free’ toilet paper was advertised by Northern Tissue. We can only imagine how painful toilet tissue usage may have been before this!

Comfort continued to be a demand by customers, and in 1942 2-ply toilet paper was introduced by St. Andrews Paper Mill in England. Before this toilet tissue was one-ply and not very soft. For the house proud, Northern introduced coloured toilet tissue for the first time in 1954.

Marketers Fuel The Demand For Luxury Toilet Tissue

Now that more luxurious toilet tissue options were available on the market, it was important to make consumers aware of it. In 1955 Scott advertised toilet tissue on TV for the first time, showing that attitudes towards the product had really changed from the late 1800s. In 1972, the first UK screening of the Andrex® puppy commercial was broadcasted. Originally the puppy was meant to be played by a little girl, but it was thought to promote wastefulness. The puppy was introduced and the rest is history!

Toilet Tissue in The 21st Century

Today we would be lost without toilet tissue, but we haven’t stopped injecting creativity and innovation into the product. 2005 saw the first hugely popular Annual Toilet Paper Wedding Dress Contest taking place by Cheap-Chic-Weddings.com, where contestants are asked to make a wedding dress from nothing but toilet paper, glue and a needle and thread. The competition is now in its 12th year!

2016 has been an interesting year for developments in the world of toilet tissue. Tork introduced the Aqua Tube, the first toilet roll with a flushable core. You can find out more about the product in our blog post, “Flushing Away Forests: How to Reduce Toilet Tissue Wastage.” 2016 also saw a UK supermarket sell ‘mulled wine’ scented toilet tissue for the festive season, to offer ‘extra indulgence everyday’.

We hope you enjoyed finding out about the history of toilet tissue and have been educated about a staple purchase in all of our lives. |f you found it interesting, please feel free to share our infographic and Tweet us @BunzlCleaning.

If you need to stock up on toilet tissue or toilet roll, our extensive range includes everything from conventional toilet rolls to full toilet tissue dispensing solutions. Our quantities are suitable for everything from a small office, right up to large bulk packs appropriate for those looking for wholesale solutions.