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Toilet paper

Toilet paper is a tissue paper product designed for the cleansing of the anus after defecation or the genitals after urination.

Toilet paper has a different composition than facial tissue. Toilet paper is designed to break apart when wet so as to not clog drain pipes. Toilet paper is designed to decompose in septic tanks whereas most septic tank manufacturers advise against flushing facial tissues into the septic tank.

Toilet paper was first produced in China in the 14th century.

The first factory made paper marketed exclusively for toilet use was produced Joseph Cayetty in the United States in 1857.

Before this invention, wealthy people used wool or hemp for their ablutions, while less wealthy people used various materials such as grass, stone, sand, moss, water, maize husks, or seashellss, depending upon the country and weather conditions or social customs. In Ancient Rome, a sponge was commonly used. In some parts of the world, the use of newspaper, or telephone directory pages were common. In monarchial Russia, some subordinates even stamped the toilet paper with imperial arms for the use of the Tsar.

The advantages of toilet paper are that it is easy and intuitive to use, fairly absorbent, and can be conveniently made available near toilets, because of its compact size. Toilet paper was not available on a roll until 1879. Toilet paper is available as several types of paper, varying for colors, decorations and consistency, to appeal to individual preference. Toilet paper is typically made from recycled paper, to reduce the depletion of forests.

The use of water to clean oneself is common in southern India, where people use their left hand to clean themselves, and their right hand for eating. In parts of Africa, the converse is true, and a right-handed handshake could be considered rude.

In Europe, toilet sanitation has been supplemented by the invention of the bidet, which uses a stream of water to cleanse the genitals and anus.

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