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What did people use before toilet paper was invented? With all the craziness in the world today, toilet paper flying off the grocery store shelves has been on the minds of many.

Who invented toilet paper and what did people use before the invention of toilet paper?

You may be wondering when who invented toilet paper and what did people use before then?

Before the invention of toilet paper, many different materials were used for the same purposes. Materials varied greatly depending upon the country, weather conditions, social customs, and not surprisingly, social status.

Before the advent of what we know as toilet paper or toilet tissue, common people used things such as leaves, grass, ferns, corn cobs, maize, fruit skins, seashells, stone, sand, moss, snow, and of course water.

The simplest way was physical use of one’s hand. Wealthy people usually used wool, lace or hemp.

Before Toilet Paper Was Invented


The Romans were the cleanest of pre-toilet paper cultures. The wealthy used wool and rosewater and others used sponge attached to a wooden stick, soaked in a bucket of saltwater.


The Greeks would use clay to give the old tush a wipe.

Coastal Regions

In various coastal regions throughout the world, mussel shells were used, and sometimes coconut husk where it was available.


Europeans used their hand. Keep in mind though, they also used fountains with the luxury of warm water.

Islamic Cultures

People from Islamic cultures used their left hand with little water. This hasn’t changed a whole lot, they this is still the practice of Islamic cultures today. It’s no wonder that it is offensive to greet someone with your left hand.


The Eskimos would use moss or snow to wipe their tuchus.


Not surprisingly, the Vikings used wool to take care of business.

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The next two you may be particularly interested in, as most of you reading this are from America. 

Native Americans

Native Americans often used twigs, dry grass, small stones, and even oyster or clamshells to clean themselves up after a dookie.

Colonial Americans

The Colonial Americans used shelled ears of corn, the center core part of the ear. (Don’t ask me! I would have guessed they’d use the husk!)


The Mayan people also used corn on the cob to wipe.


Without the use of modern plumbing, the French were by far the fanciest. They invented the first bidet in the late 17th century.


The Chinese invented the first toilet paper as we know it, back in the 14th Century. Before then, they would use random paper products.

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