What did people do without it in the first place?
While we’re definitely not suggesting that you resort to these options, here are some personal hygiene items that our ancestors used before commercially produced toilet paper hit the markets in 1857.
Shared sponges on sticks
Privacy and proper sanitation were scarce luxuries in the ancient Romans’ public restrooms. Their outdoor communal restrooms, called “latrines,” had no dividing walls, and people’s cleaning methods would certainly not hold up to sanitation standards today. Each individual would use the same communal cleansing sponge that was attached to the end of a long stick, also called a tersorium. To clean the sponge after use, it would sit in a container filled with saltwater or vinegar. In addition to being exposed to an unsettling amount of bacteria on that communal sponge, the Romans had to worry about spontaneous hydrogen sulphide and methane flames exploding from beneath them while using the toilet.
Personal-hygiene sticks and extra-large scented paper
The Silk Road, a network of ancient travel and trade, had many of its own latrines scattered throughout Ancient Asia. In fact, archaeologists discovered “personal hygiene sticks” in one that was located on the outskirts of the Tamrin Basin, believed to date back to the Han Dynasty around 2,000 years ago. The sticks were crafted out of bamboo, with one end of it wrapped in fabric for wiping. Things eventually evolved, though. The first documented use of toilet paper was in 6th century China. In 1391, a Chinese emperor ordered the production of two-by-three-foot scented sheets of paper that he and his family used in the restroom.