Toilet paper

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The toilet paper , even toilet paper , toilet paper is an imaginary single-use tissue paper to clean the excretory after defecation or after urination . When using a bidet or shower toilet, toilet paper can be used for drying. Toilet paper breaks down in the sewer system . In some countries it is not customary to wash the paper down.

Recycled toilet paper
Toilet paper and toilet paper holder
Toilet paper with money print
Crepe secondary raw material toilet paper

to form

The toilet paper, which is mostly wound on cardboard tubes (called "toilet roll", "toilet paper roll" or "toilet paper roll") can consist of up to five layers of paper. It is usually 10 cm wide. To make it easier to tear off the required amount of paper, perforations on small rolls are common. Toilet paper that is colored or printed with images or text is often used as a joke or promotional item (see illustration). There is moist paper as well as antibacterial or perfumed paper. Wet wipes can be problematic in sanitation because this paper does not dissolve quickly enough; there are also health concerns. The companies have therefore developed a temporary wet tensile strength for ordinary toilet paper using cationic , water-soluble polymers in order to bring the interests of toilet users and sewage treatment plants into harmony.


Wood for pulp production is mainly obtained from pine , spruce , birch and, to a lesser extent, from eucalyptus trees. Since lignin and other plant substances cannot be completely removed by the cooking process in cellulose production, the pulp remains dark in color. For hygiene products, the cellulose fibers are processed further and the remaining lignin residues are removed in a bleaching process, similar to the process for paper . This has the advantage that the cellulose not only becomes discolored, but also becomes more absorbent and softer, because lignin is water-repellent.

Global pulp production from 1990 to 2005 after bleaching method: chlorine (green, below), E lementar- C hlor- F rei (blue, center), with chlorine dioxide or chlorite and T otal- C hlor- F rei (gray, top) with ozone or bleached hydrogen peroxide .

The elemental chlorine , which was previously used for bleaching, formed chlorinated waste products that had a negative impact on people and the environment. Particularly problematic among these waste materials are the highly toxic dioxins . Instead, chlorine dioxide , hydrogen peroxide or ozone serve as oxidizing agents . Depending on the oxidizing agent, a distinction is made between ECF-bleached (elemental-chlorine-free), e.g. B. bleaching with hypochlorite or chlorine dioxide, in which chlorine-containing substances are still responsible for the bleaching effect, and TCF-bleached (total chlorine-free) pulp, e.g. B. with oxygen , hydrogen peroxide or ozone.

By applying the cellulose pulp to a honeycomb-like screen structure, the fibers are brought into a certain arrangement and thus receive a three-dimensional profile. Tissue is processed in two or more layers. With toilet paper, the surface is embossed and printed. In the case of multilayer toilet paper, the embossing achieves the adhesion of the individual layers to one another as well as the strength of the sheet, an effect that can be increased by gluing them together. A combination of soft cellulose fibers with particularly thick and safe layers of dense fiber composite characterizes multi-layer papers. The softness that is often desired is achieved by structuring the surface.

Due to the increased environmental awareness of consumers as well as manufacturers, attention is increasingly being paid to economical water consumption and environmentally friendly methods of waste water disposal in pulp and tissue production . The wood residues and lye excess produced during production are used to cover the energy demand. There are also variants that are partially or completely made from waste paper . According to figures published in 2016, the share of recycled toilet paper sold in Germany is only 24 percent, which is due to private consumers, while it is an estimated 80 percent for large companies and municipalities. In the case of hygiene paper, the proportion of recycled paper in retail fell from 72 percent in 2001 to 51 percent in 2012.

The manufacture of hygiene paper is extremely capital-intensive and subject to general price pressure in retail. Due to the relatively low value of the goods and the freight costs, delivery routes of over 500 kilometers are not profitable according to a 2014 report by the FAZ . It is a fast moving consumer good for which consumers usually show little interest.


Archaeological finds in the world's oldest salt mine, the Salzberg near Hallstatt , suggest that butterbur leaves were also used as toilet paper in the Bronze Age . The popular name Arschwurzen for this plant still exists in Bavaria .

Before using toilet paper, rags (textiles) or sponges were used, sometimes even live poultry, but mostly no aids. In many cultures, especially Asia, the left hand was reserved for body cleaning, the right hand for handshakes and eating, which resulted in a social disadvantage for one-handed people ( punitive amputation ).

The first mention of toilet paper is for 6th century China . The scholar Yan Zhitui (531–591) wrote in 589: “I would never dare to use paper with quotes or comments from the Five Classics or names of sages on it for the toilet.” In 851 a traveler wrote: “ They (the Chinese) are not very careful with cleanliness, and they don't wash themselves with water when they have done their business, just wipe themselves with paper. ”For the early 14th century, records for the room are found in the Today's Zhejiang Province has an annual output of 10 million packs of 1,000 to 10,000 sheets of toilet paper. The Nanjing Imperial Court used approximately 720,000 sheets of 2 by 3 feet in 1393. Emperor Hongwu and his family used 15,000 sheets of a particularly soft and scented type of toilet paper that year.

In Europe, from the Middle Ages , there is evidence of the use of old rags, scraps of fabric, balls of wool or even moss, leaves, hay and straw, and from the 16th century also of waste and inferior paper. Excavations of medieval latrines, for example from the Hanseatic city of Tartu ( Estonia ), where more than 3,200 textile residues from several households used as toilet paper were evaluated, qualitative differences in the textiles used as toilet paper were observed analogous to the social status of the associated household. The majority of textile scraps from wealthy households consisted of fine, soft woolen fabrics torn into strips from heavily worn everyday clothing, to which occasionally silk applications were still attached. In contrast, the textile leftovers from socially disadvantaged households consisted of rather coarse, simple fabrics, which corresponds directly to the everyday clothing worn by the residents. Silk was extremely expensive at that time and only made up 0.6% of the textile remains found in Tartu, but it ended up being reused in latrines. In 1669, Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen described in his Continuatio des Abentheuerlichen Simplicissimi how a hemp seed is successively turned into clothes, diapers, writing paper and wrapping paper, until the curve finally ends at the toilet.

The use of paper increased with the spread of newspapers and the advent of industrial paper making. With the spread of the water closet in England in the second half of the 19th century, special paper was required that would not clog the sewer pipes.

Joseph Gayetty produced the first modern, commercially available paper in a factory specifically for toilet paper in 1857 in the USA. It consisted of individual leaves in a box and was impregnated with aloes extracts.

The perforated toilet paper on rolls as we know it dates back to the late 19th century. In 1879, the trade paper Papier-Zeitung mentioned in a report on perforated roll paper for packaging purposes that such closet paper was also often offered.

Closet paper production by Eisenwerke Gaggenau in 1891

In 1888, Eisenwerke Gaggenau's diverse range of products included perforated toilet paper as well as suitable holders (“Closetclipse for roll paper”). In 1891 the company was able to produce 2,000 rolls of perforated closet paper a day in its paper perforating facility , which in its own opinion was the only such facility in Europe outside of Great Britain at the time.

In 1928 Hans Klenk founded the Hakle toilet paper factory in Ludwigsburg . At that time, a roll consisted of 1,000 sheets of rough crepe paper . In 1958, the softer tissue paper, which is more comfortable on the skin, spread in western Germany - coming from America. Hakle introduced the two-ply (1972) and the three-ply (1984) as well as the moist (1977) toilet paper in Germany. In the GDR , crepe paper remained the only type available. Every now and then there were supply bottlenecks, which were "the subject of neverending stories" and the subject of reporting in the West German press. Across generations, GDR citizens characterized the available toilet paper - which was also the subject of the political joke - in retrospect as "hard", "rough" and "much too thin". After visits to the West, the softer paper there was one of those little conveniences that were "sorely missed" for many.

In 1973 the "toilet paper panic" occurred in Japan during the oil crisis . The rumor of an expected shortage of toilet paper due to a restriction on oil imports led to hamster purchases . This led to a shortage, which in turn seemed to confirm the rumors. In December of the same year, there were also hamster purchases in the USA because of a satirical broadcast on television.

In Europe, in times of shortage (the 1920s after the First World War , the last years of the Second World War and the first post-war years), newspapers were also cut into small sheets of paper, punched in a corner and hung on a nail with string or skewered on a hook. This practice still exists in poor areas of South America, for example. As an alternative, there were wooden boxes open at the top, which were attached to the wall and filled with the appropriately cut newspaper. In the 2010s, the scarcity of toilet paper in Venezuela in the wake of the local supply crisis for consumer goods (see Protests in Venezuela 2014–2017 ) was discussed worldwide and attributed to the prevailing shortage economy .

In 2005, Die Zeit reported that in the western Chinese city of Shanghai 140,000 tons of toilet paper were used annually, while in the rest of China it was largely uncommon. In the event that the trend towards the use of toilet paper should spread to the rest of China with a population of billions, Chinese materials researchers have looked at substitute raw materials such as straw and sugar cane.

Due to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic , there were hamster purchases worldwide , which led to a shortage of toilet paper in supermarkets in particular. Some supermarkets then limited the sale of toilet paper to individuals. This phenomenon has been discussed several times in the classic media and in net culture and processed humorously. The Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) reported an increase in demand for toilet paper of + 211% for the period between March 16 and 22, 2020, more than three times as much as in the previous six months in Germany. To protect against hamster purchases, retailers occasionally have a regulation that the price per pack increases when buying several packs of toilet paper.

Distribution in Germany

In Germany, according to an estimate from 2017, 2.5 billion rolls of toilet paper are used in a year, while a report from 2016 named almost three billion rolls, which corresponds to 18 kg per German citizen per year. Within a decade the demand for toilet paper increased from 1 to 1.5 million tons in Germany. In Germany there are over 80 varieties (as of 2005).

Everyday culture

There are cultural differences across Europe in the selection of toilet paper. Die Zeit reported in 2005 that for a long time German consumers were mainly interested in as many locations as possible; In the meantime, companies and their research departments are focusing less on their number than on the properties of tear resistance and softness, but the latter is not yet enough for German consumers. According to the CEO of the manufacturer Wepa , Martin Krengel, less emphasis is placed on multi-ply, soft paper in southern Europe; colored paper is popular in Italy. According to a 2012 study, three percent of the German consumers surveyed want “additional entertainment value”.


The use of toilet paper was examined in a representative survey in Germany in 2012. According to this, 66.8 percent of Germans fold the paper before use, while 7.4 percent each crumple it and wrap it around the hand and 4.7 percent piece it into individual sheets of paper, the latter being more common among older people (9 percent). 7.7 percent decide spontaneously, 4.8 percent are indifferent, and twice as many women as men. Hand wrapping is above average among women with a share of 10 percent, especially among younger people, while more men than women fold and crumple. According to Wepa CEO Martin Krengel, it can be generalized that there is a tendency to fold in Germany and crumple in southern Europe. In 2005, Procter & Gamble's market research even stated that 90 percent of Germans would fold and that the tear resistance of the paper was important to them. On the other hand, a third of the British and a large proportion of the French would crumple, as would almost all residents of the United States - which is why paper - unsuitable for the German market - has hardly any structure in the USA. A survey of 1200 people conducted in the USA in the early 1990s found that an average of 90 single sheets are used per day, which equates to 75 toilet rolls per person per year.

Some clean their buttocks while sitting, others get up to do it.

Role orientation

End of paper before the roll
End of paper behind the roll

There are two ways to hang toilet paper in the usual holders with a horizontal axis parallel to the wall: The end of the paper can either be in front of or behind the roll. The question of the “correct” orientation is a topic that is discussed in the media again and again , especially in the United States .


  • Industrieverband Körperpflege- und Waschmittel eV (Ed.): Hygiene products - indispensable in daily life. Frankfurt 2001.
  • Shōwashi zenkiroku. Chronicle 1926-1989 . Mainichi Shimbunsha, Tokyo 1989, p. 937 (on the "toilet paper panic").

Web links

Commons : Toilet Paper  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Toilet paper  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g h Schramm: Innovation from the role. In: The time . December 15, 2005.
  2. Christoph Drösser : Toilet paper: right? In: The time . 15th June 2017.
  3. ^ Lars Renberg, Nils G. Johansson, Blom Christian: Destruction of PCDD and PCDF in bleached pulp by chlorine dioxide treatment . In: Chemosphere . tape 30 , no. 9 May 1995, pp. 1805-1811 , doi : 10.1016 / 0045-6535 (95) 00068-J .
  4. a b Birgit Bonk, Birgit Brückner: Toilet paper: Does the environment bypass our bottom? ( Memento from September 11, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) In: WDR .de , September 28, 2016.
  5. a b c Helmut Bünder: The Germans fold, Southern Europeans crumple. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . December 15, 2014 (PDF, ).
  6. Michael Saren: Marketing from a consumer perspective . Translated from the English by Brigitte Hilgner. MI, Landsberg am Lech 2007, p. 207 ( ).
  7., Terra-X, broadcast on September 7, 2008: The Hallstatt deposit - the world's oldest salt mine contains spectacular finds. ( Memento from December 3, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
  8. ^ Daniel Furrer: Water throne and thunder beam. A small cultural history of the quiet place. ISBN 3-89678-248-7 .
  9. ^ Joseph Needham , Tsien Tsuen-Hsuin: Science and Civilization in China . Volume V: Chemistry and Chemical Technology , Part 1: Paper and Printing . Caves Books, Taipei 1986, pp. 123 (English text: "Paper on which there are quotations or commentaries from Five Classics or the names of sages, I dare not use for toilet purposes.").
  10. ^ Joseph Needham , Tsien Tsuen-Hsuin: Science and Civilization in China . Volume V: Chemistry and Chemical Technology , Part 1: Paper and Printing . Caves Books, Taipei 1986, pp. 123 (English text: "They (the Chinese) are not careful about cleanliness, and they do not wash themselves with water when they have done their necessities; but they only wipe themselves with paper.").
  11. a b c Sabine Schachtner: Toilet paper. On the history of wiping culture . In: Hans-Werner Ingensiep, Walter Popp (Hrsg.): Hygiene und Kultur (= Sabine Dittrich, Hans-Werner Ingensiep [Hrsg.]: Interdisciplinary IOS series of publications . Volume II ). Oldib, Essen 2012, ISBN 978-3-939556-34-3 , p. 209–216 ( [PDF; 3.1 MB ; accessed on October 31, 2019]).
  12. Riina Rammo: Tekstiilileiud Tartu keskaegsetest jäätmekastidest: tehnoloogia, kaubandus ja tarbimine / Textile finds from medieval cesspits in Tartu: technology, trade and consumption (=  Dissertationes Archaeologiae Universitatis Tartuensis . No. 4 ). University of Tartu, Tartu 2015, ISBN 978-9949-32-999-1 (Lithuanian, dissertation).
  13. ^ Riina Rammo: Silk as a luxury in late medieval and early modern Tartu (Estonia) . In: Estonian Journal of Archeology . No. 20 , 2016, p. 165–183 , doi : 10.3176 / arch.2016.2.04 (English).
  14. Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen : Continuatio des Abentheuerlichen Simplicissimi . 11, 12 ( ).
  15. ^ Theodor Bergmann : Eisenwerke Gaggenau AG 1891, ISBN 978-3-9812109-5-8 (reprinted in Badner Buch Verlag, Rastatt 2009).
  16. Michael Wessel: Gag-precise comfort for the Closet . In: Badisches Tagblatt , Der Murgtäler . August 25, 2015 ( online ).
  17. ^ Hakle history ( Memento from February 23, 2004 in the Internet Archive ).
  18. ^ Siegfried Grundmann: The GDR everyday life in 1987. In: Heiner Timmermann (Ed.): The GDR. Analyzes of an abandoned state. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2001, pp. 131–155, here p. 146 ( ).
    Planned coverage of needs and standard of living. In: GDR. Myth and Reality. Konrad Adenauer Foundation ;
    Christoph Lorke: Poverty in divided Germany. The perception of social peripheral locations in the Federal Republic and the GDR. Campus, Frankfurt, New York 2015, p. 358 ( ).
    For a practical episode, see, for example, Stefan Wolle : Living with the Stasi. In: Hans-Jürgen Wagener , Helga Schultz (ed.): The GDR in retrospect. Politics, economy, society, culture. Ch. Links, Berlin 2007, pp. 79–91, here p. 84. ( ).
  19. a b Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk : The 101 most important questions - GDR (= Beck'sche series. 7020). Beck, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-406-59232-4 . Chapter 55 with the question: "Why did the West visitor bring his toilet paper?"
  20. ^ Rainer Gries: Goods and products as generation markers. In: Annegret Schüle , Thomas Ahbe, Rainer Gries (eds.): The GDR from a generational perspective. An inventory. Leipziger Universitätsverlag, Leipzig 2006, pp. 271–304, here p. 296 f. ( );
    Gunter Holzweissig: The GDR (= Inner Leadership Series. Issue 4/1979). Federal Ministry of Defense, Bonn 1979, p. 130.
  21. ^ Everhard Holtmann , Anne Köhler: Reunification before the fall of the wall: attitudes of the population of the GDR in the mirror of secret western opinion polls. Campus, Frankfurt, New York 2015, p. 154 f. ( )
  22. When the toilet paper crisis hit the United States
  23. David Böcking: Shortage economy in Venezuela: In the land of scarce toilet paper. In: Spiegel Online , August 4, 2013.
  24. Rolls stacked up to the roof: toilet paper hamster purchases reach a new dimension. March 22, 2020, accessed March 22, 2020 .
  25. Why actually toilet paper? Retrieved March 22, 2020 .
  26. How the internet laughs at the new luxury item. Retrieved March 22, 2020 .
  27. Destatis: Corona crisis: Experimental data show buying behavior in retail. Special evaluation shows rapidly increasing demand for selected products. March 25, 2020, accessed March 25, 2020 .
  28. Denmark: Supermarket prevents hamster purchases with a trick. Retrieved March 22, 2020 .
  29. Steffen Fründt: This thing is supposed to drive the Germans out of toilet paper. In: The world . March 31, 2017.
  30. a b Zewa Soft reveals how the Germans fold - and which type is the Falter, Wickler, Stückler & Co? ( Memento from October 12, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) In: Presseportal , November 16, 2012.
  31. Bathroom tissue survey turns up interesting trivia. In: The Baltimore Sun. June 21, 1993.
  32. Do you stand or sit to wipe your bum? Man asks Twitter and users can't believe there's a CHOICE. In: The Sun. April 26, 2016, accessed July 27, 2019 .
  33. Drew Magary: Sitters Vs. Standers - The Great Wipe Hope. In: Deadspin. December 11, 2009, accessed July 27, 2019 .