There was a time when toilet paper was nothing but a simple cleaning product that was used to clean different areas of the body. It was also considered to be one of the most hygienic methods to keep oneself germ-free and clean.
However, nowadays, that piece of paper has turned into a gigantic, booming industry with a plethora of toilet paper factories and industrial units. This boom has created massive waves in the entire toilet industry and the manufacturers of toilet paper in today’s time have given us a variety of types of this basic household item that differ in terms of their texture, color, production process, style, size, durability, cost, and feel.
Standard or typical toilet paper is generally supplied as a long strip of pierced paper. This paper is then rolled around a paperboard in order to make it easy for people to store the tissue roll in a tissue dispenser.
Table of Contents
The Fascinating Evolution of Toilet Paper
You’ll be surprised to know that the first-ever documented use of toilet paper goes back to early medieval China, sometime during the 6th century AD. This is particularly interesting because paper had already been introduced in China in the 2nd century AD; however, back then, it was only used as padding and as a wrapping material.
Soon enough, though, people from those times started wiping themselves with paper, which is exactly what led to the manufacturing of toilet paper rolls for that very purpose. Ten million packages of about 1000 to 10,000 toilet paper sheets began to be produced on an annual basis, specifically in what is now known as the Zhejiang province.
Interestingly, at the same when millions of tissue papers were being produced and used as a cleaning product in China, wealthy people in other cities and countries were using wool, hemp, and lace for cleaning. On the other hand, the less fortunate and less wealthy people resorted to the use of various other cleaning materials such as leaves, grass, wood shavings, plant husks, rags, and fruit skins, to name a few.
Fast forward to the 18th century, and there was quite a rise in publishing during that time that resulted in the use of cheap editions of books along with newspapers for cleaning and hygiene purposes.
The Rise of Toilet Paper as a Commodity
The United States was the first to witness and experience the trend of using toiler paper as a commodity. One of the first few inventors of the modern and commercially available toilet paper rolls in the U.S. was a man named Joseph Gayetty. He was the first person to introduce the toilet paper in 1857 that continued to be available until the 1920s. It was a medicated type of toilet tissue paper, and it was initially sold in the form of flat sheets that were contained together in a package.
Fascinatingly, his toilet paper was sold with the tagline: “The greatest necessity of the age! Gayetty’s medicated paper for the water-closet!”
Soon enough, there were also moist toilet papers that were introduced, and they were called ‘wet wipes.’ They first emerged in the United Kingdom during the 1990s and were introduced by a man named Andrex. These moist papers were considered to be far better than the dry toilet paper in terms of usage and effectiveness.
How to Buy the Best Toilet Paper
Ever since the inception of the basic toilet paper in China, different forms and varieties have been created since then. While differences between them can be subtle, there are certain attributes and qualities that are associated with them, which is what makes each of them special in their own way.
When it comes to buying the right kind of toilet paper for daily use, many people prefer choosing texture over strength, while others may prioritize the way that the toilet paper is made.
Here is a clear guide that will help you choose and buy the best toilet paper for regular use. It includes some key features that you should consider when buying toilet paper.
This is mainly described as the puncture resistance of the toilet paper. You can easily tell if the paper is hard by touching it. While there are many different types of toilet paper, not all of them have the same strength levels.
You must have often noticed that some toilet paper rolls contain numerous separate layers of paper. These layers are called plies, and their amount differs in different varieties of toilet paper. For instance, there are toilet papers with only a single layer, and there are also those that contain up to 6 layers of paper! The plies also determine the thickness and strength of the toilet paper.
A majority of the toilet paper that was manufactured initially contained chlorine, which primarily served the purpose of bleaching the paper. However, soon enough, chlorine-free toilet paper also started being produced because chlorine has many environmental concerns associated with it. It can severely pollute water and air. So, when buying toilet paper, you must ensure that it is absolutely chlorine-free. Another reason why you don’t want chlorine in your toilet paper is that chlorine can possibly cause allergic reactions on sensitive skin.
There are some types of toilet paper that feel incredibly soft to the touch and can be described as super silky. But there are also other types of toilet paper that are really rough on the skin. Interestingly, there are people who prefer the latter type of toilet paper. While it all depends on personal preferences, you can check the toilet paper you buy for softness by either touching it or rubbing it against your skin.
Many toilet paper companies are trying to be ‘green’ by producing the kind of toilet paper that is most environmentally friendly. The prime example of this is recycled toilet paper. This type is made with the help of recycled products, which means that it causes the least amount of environmental damage.
Different Types of Toilet Paper
What was initially produced as a simple, single-layered toilet paper now comes in many interesting varieties. Take a look at some of the most common and popular types of toilet paper that are found in most households today.
1-Ply Toilet Paper
‘Ply’ refers to layers or the thickness of a folded material. 1-Ply toilet paper is one that consists of only a single layer of paper. Initially, all toilet papers were only 1-ply, and it was many years later that different varieties of toilet paper were introduced with a greater number of layers.
Many people believe that 1-ply toilet paper is less durable because it contains a single layer of paper. However, considering the recent innovation and advancements in technology, even toilet paper with one layer can be thicker, stronger, and more durable than 2-ply or 3-ply toilet tissue rolls, for instance.
One of the biggest advantages of 1-ply toilet papers is they are quite effective. They cost fairly lesser than other types of toilet paper such as 2-ply or 3-ply. This makes single-ply toilet paper less expensive to use on a daily basis, which is why you are likely to find them in most households.
Another incredible advantage of this type of toilet paper is that it is a really good choice for septic systems because they break down way quicker than 2-ply and 3-ply types of toilet papers. This significantly reduces the chances that your toilet will get clogged, given that you use them in moderation, of course.
2-Ply Toilet Paper
As the name evidently suggests, 2-ply toilet paper is the one that contains two layers or a double layer of paper. These were initially considered to be thicker and more durable than one-ply toilet papers. However, that is no longer the case because there are already varieties of one-ply papers that are actually stronger than 2-ply.
2-ply toilet paper was introduced sometime during the 1950s when a toilet paper manufacturer came up with an efficient method. This method involved attaching one-ply paper together in a rolled form, which created a thicker, 2-ply type of toilet paper.
From a comfort standpoint, 2-ply toilet paper is definitely softer and highly absorbent, considering its thickness levels. However, it is a tad expensive because of the increased number of layers in it, since more layers of paper simply translate to more cost. Also, when using 2-ply toilet paper on a daily basis, there is a greater risk of clogging in septic units, especially if you do have a septic system or if you live in an older home.
This is one reason why most people prefer using 1-ply toilet paper in no flush or low water flow circumstances. It also works best for homes where the plumbing is old and a bit more sensitive to clogs.
3-Ply Toilet Paper
This type of toilet paper comes with three layers of paper, making it incredibly thicker and more absorbent than 2-ply toilet papers. With three layers of paper, it can hold and absorb a great amount of water, and it is also extremely soft; much softer, in fact, when compared to other types of toilet paper. This type of toilet paper is super strong and even more durable than the others.
However, there are some inevitable disadvantages that are often associated with the use of 3-ply toilet paper. Firstly, it costs way more than 1-ply or 2-ply and considering the fact that toilet paper is used regularly, it might create a dent in your pocket at the end of each month. Secondly, it runs a greater risk of clogging your toilet, which makes it less efficient even while being stronger and thicker. This also makes it less environmentally friendly and less “green,” as most homeowners put it.
Bamboo Toilet Paper
If you are looking for a more eco-friendly and a ‘greener’ type of toilet paper, bamboo toilet paper is what you need to get. Recently, a majority of homeowners have been trying to reduce their use of conventional tissue paper as a way of making their contribution to saving the environment. Most of them have shifted to toilet paper that is made from bamboo, as the name clearly implies.
Bamboo toilet papers are a part of a tree-free campaign are actually made from a combination of bamboo and sugarcane. The main reason for using bamboo is that it is not a type of tree, but is technically grass that takes that has a rapid growth and can be harvested within a span of three months after being trimmed. Interestingly bamboo pulp also has the ability to hold up to three times the amount of water in relation to its weight, which makes it incredibly absorbent.
Unlike other standard types of toilet paper, this bamboo-based paper is super silky and soft, mainly because it is not bleached. Although it has been found to be slightly rougher to the touch than the regular tissue roll, it is what makes it super tough and durable.
However, the only major downside to bamboo toilet paper is that it is pricier than other basic types of toilet papers, which is mainly why many people are hesitant to use them.
Luxury Toilet Paper
True to its name, luxury toilet paper is actually a whole lever higher than the average toilet paper that most people use. What mainly sets it apart from the rest is that it comes in different fancy variations, such as lotioned, perfumed, quilted and scented. It has gained significant popularity in the United States where the sales of this toilet paper have reached billions of dollars. As a result of this, it also managed to outpace the sales of almost all other types of toilet paper.
Luxury toilet paper can range from 2-ply to 4-ply, making it one of the thickest and strongest types of toilet paper. It is amazingly soft and silky to the touch, which is also one reason why this toilet paper has become such a favorite among most Americans.
This toilet paper is also often referred to as ‘premium extra soft toilet paper,’ primarily because of how its multiple layers are so incredibly soft and supple. Although this toilet paper has been touted as ‘septic-safe’ and ‘sewer-safe,’ it still raises many question marks as a majority of people believe that it can certainly clog pipes and sewers because of its generous four layers.
Luxury toilet paper also justifies its name with the help of the heavy price tag that comes with it. It is definitely way more expensive than most other types of toilet paper, which is another key disadvantage. While most brands offer excellent packaging of their luxury toilet papers, that has failed to justify its high price in the eyes of many people.
Brown Toilet Paper
This is a new type of toilet paper which is also referred to as ‘unbleached toilet paper.’ It is considered to be the most environmentally friendly type of toilet paper since a very little amount of bleach is used during its manufacturing process.
Interestingly, the color of most varieties of brown toilet paper is actually brown, which is primarily because of the low amount of bleach used to make the paper. The fact that this toilet paper is almost unbleached makes it super earth-friendly.
One of the most popular brands of brown toilet paper is a company called ‘Cascades’ that makes bathroom tissues under the name “Moka.” This toilet paper uses a very little amount of bleach, has a lower carbon footprint when compared to the regular types of toilet paper and is also made from a hundred percent recycled paper.
The whole concept behind brown toilet paper is to be greener, look after the environment, and care for the planet. However, there is one slight disadvantage of using this toilet paper. The downside is that brown toilet paper is a tad rough as compared to standard tissue paper rolls. To overcome that, a number of brands and companies are working on striking the right ratio and balance when it comes to manufacturing brown toilet paper.
The company “Cascades” devised a method to curtail the roughness of this form of toilet paper. The method involves mixing two types of recycled pulp, i.e., virgin pulp and recycled cardboard pulp. The short strands of the virgin pulp combined with the longer strands of cardboard fiber are believed to make the toilet paper softer.
Recycled Toilet Paper
There is no denying the fact the use of recycled products helps preserve energy, saves trees, and also protects the natural habitat. The same is the case with using recycled toilet paper. It not only saves trees but is an amazing way to lower the massive environmental damage caused by the production and use of standard toilet paper rolls.
The fluffy, luxe and soft white toilet paper that most of us normally use on a daily basis is almost equal to flushing away 27,000 trees each and every day. It also uses non-recycled fibers from a variety of different types of trees, such as the eucalyptus tree.
Recycled toilet paper, on the other hand, consumes 50 percent less water and 64 percent less energy. It also produces 64 percent less air pollution as compared to the standard, non-recycled toilet papers. Another great feature of this type of toilet paper is that it is processed-chlorine-free (PCF). This suggests that they don’t use any chlorine during the manufacturing process to bleach the paper. The toilet paper is actually bleached with the help of other bleaching agents that don’t contain chlorine, such as hydrogen peroxide.
However, recycled toilet paper has been said to be a little sandy in terms of texture. It is not as soft or silky to the touch as those toilet papers that are made from virgin pulp. It is also quite thin, given the fewer layers, but it does the job well and has generated satisfactory reviews from a majority of people.
Colored Toilet Paper
During a period that is often referred to as ‘a more colorful era,’ there was a time when colored toilet paper was quite a big thing. As the name suggests, these toilet papers were actually colored, and if you are old enough, you probably remember yourself always reaching for the pastel-colored tissue roll from the tissue racks in the supermarket.
Colored toilet papers emerged during the 1950s, which is also described as the ‘heyday of color coordination.’ During that time, the idea of a color-neutral bathroom came off as quite ordinary and boring to most women, who then resorted to matching the color of their toilet paper with the interior of their bathroom. The toilet paper aisles used to be filled with a splendid cornucopia of soft-colored toilet paper rolls, ranging from beige to pink to lavender.
However, after creating massive buzz and hype for so many years, there was a sudden steep decline in the popularity of colored toilet papers. They disappeared as quickly as they had appeared. The primary reason behind this decline was that fact that they were quite harmful to the skin. Colored toilet papers obviously contained pastel dyes, which can be very risky when they come into contact with human skin. The color dyes were greatly associated with serious medical and environmental concerns, which is why their production and usage eventually dwindled sometime around 2004.
Another factor that contributed to their discontinuation was that they were quite costly to produce because of the color dyes that were used in their manufacturing. The high price was obviously transferred to the consumers through high selling prices, and soon enough, people deemed the colored toilet papers to be very expensive.
Interestingly, though, colored toiled papers have actually made a comeback, and apparently, there is one company called Renovo that still produces these toilet papers. Their black colored toilet paper is particularly liked by a celebrity named Kris Jenner. As a way to justify the concerns and risks associated with colored toilet papers, the company has assured people that all their products are dermatologically and gynecologically tested.
It is quite fascinating indeed that something as basic and simple as toilet paper could have such a deep history. This goes to show that toilet paper is one of the most important household items out there, and you must choose the kind of toilet paper that best fits your needs.