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  #1  
Old 06-05-2003, 09:43 AM
Francis E Dec, Esq Francis E Dec, Esq is offline
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What did people wipe/wash with before toilet paper.

This interesting article about toilets in the Middle Ages reminds us again that the Middle Ages, while no picnic, were not as bad as the popular view believes.

It has me wondering again what people used in the days before mass produced toilet paper. Sure, there is the proverbial corn cob. And I'm sure that rural people had a variety of materials available. But I'm curious about the average town folk. What did they use?

I've also seen people preferring washing with water in various underdeveloped countries. Was this ever prevalent in America? ( I hope so. TMI: I'm disgusted by my dry-wipe-only culture. That's just not good enough, people. If you see someone in a public men's room getting a wet paper towel before heading to the stall, that might be me.)
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  #2  
Old 06-05-2003, 09:47 AM
UrbanChic UrbanChic is offline
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What did people wipe/wash with before toilet paper.

Corncobs and pages from the Sears catalog, it seems.
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  #3  
Old 06-05-2003, 09:56 AM
zev_steinhardt zev_steinhardt is offline
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Among materials that were used in Talmudic times (c. 100-500 CE) were leaves, smooth rocks and smooth pottery shards.

Zev Steinhardt
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Old 06-05-2003, 10:04 AM
Francis E Dec, Esq Francis E Dec, Esq is offline
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I forgot to clarify that I am interested in the period immediately prior to toilet paper, and particularly (but not exclusively) America. I don't know when that was, but say, circa the American Civil War.
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  #5  
Old 06-05-2003, 10:10 AM
Mezantius Mezantius is offline
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The Romans used a communal brush at their public toilets...

http://home.attbi.com/~rthamper/html...sanitation.htm
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  #6  
Old 06-05-2003, 10:10 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is online now
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Re: What did people wipe/wash with before toilet paper.

Quote:
Originally posted by Francis E Dec, Esq
( I hope so. TMI: I'm disgusted by my dry-wipe-only culture. That's just not good enough, people. If you see someone in a public men's room getting a wet paper towel before heading to the stall, that might be me.)
TMI: the wet paper towel thing doesn't work for m... I mean my 'friend', who 'says' he has a hairy arse, 'apparently', the wet paper towel just breaks up and gets entangled. Ahem.
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Old 06-05-2003, 10:13 AM
Colibri Colibri is online now
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The esteemed French author Rabelais offers a wide variety of options, in his classic Gargantua and Panatgruel (1532-1562):

Quote:
I have, answered Gargantua, by a long and curious experience, found out a means to wipe my bum, the most lordly, the most excellent, and the most convenient that ever was seen. What is that? said Grangousier, how is it? I will tell you by-and-by, said Gargantua. Once I did wipe me with a gentle-woman's velvet mask, and found it to be good; for the softness of the silk was very voluptuous and pleasant to my fundament. Another time with one of their hoods, and in like manner that was comfortable. At another time with a lady's neckerchief, and after that I wiped me with some ear-pieces of hers made of crimson satin, but there was such a number of golden spangles in them (turdy round things, a pox take them) that they fetched away all the skin of my tail with a vengeance. Now I wish St. Antony's fire burn the bum-gut of the goldsmith that made them, and of her that wore them! This hurt I cured by wiping myself with a page's cap, garnished with a feather after the Switzers' fashion.

Afterwards, in dunging behind a bush, I found a March-cat, and with it I wiped my breech, but her claws were so sharp that they scratched and exulcerated all my perinee. Of this I recovered the next morning thereafter, by wiping myself with my mother's gloves, of a most excellent perfume and scent of the Arabian Benin. After that I wiped me with sage, with fennel, with anet, with marjoram, with roses, with gourd-leaves, with beets, with colewort, with leaves of the vine-tree, with mallows, wool-blade, which is a tail-scarlet, with lettuce, and with spinach leaves. . . . Then with mercury, with parsley, with nettles, with comfrey, but that gave me the bloody flux of Lombardy, which I healed by wiping me with my braguette. Then I wiped my tail in the sheets, in the coverlet, in the curtains, with a cushion, with arras hangings, with a green carpet, with a table-cloth, with a napkin, with a handkerchief, with a combing-cloth; in all which I found more pleasure than do the mangy dogs when you rub them. . . . I wiped myself with hay, with straw, with thatch- rushes, with flax, with wool, with paper . . .

I wiped my bum, said Gargantua, with a kerchief, with a pillow, with a pantoufle, with a pouch, with a pannier, but that was a wicked and unpleasant torchecul; then with a hat. Of hats, note that some are shorn, and others shaggy, some velveted, others covered with taffeties, and others with satin. The best of all these is the shaggy hat, for it makes a very neat abstersion of the fecal matter.

Afterwards I wiped my tail with a hen, with a cock, with a pullet, with a calf's skin, with a hare, with a pigeon, with a cormorant, with an attorney's bag, with a montero, with a coif, with a falconer's lure. But, to conclude, I say and maintain, that of all torcheculs, arsewisps, bumfodders, tail-napkins, bunghole cleansers, and wipe-breeches, there is none in the world comparable to the neck of a goose, that is well downed, if you hold her head betwixt your legs. And believe me therein upon mine honour, for you will thereby feel in your nockhole a most wonderful pleasure, both in regard of the softness of the said down and of the temporate heat of the goose, which is easily communicated to the bum-gut and the rest the inwards, in so far as to come even to the regions of the heart and brains. And think not that the felicity of the heroes and demigods in the Elysian fields consisteth either in their asphodel, ambrosia, or nectar, as our old women here used to say; but in this, according to my judgment, that they wipe their tails with the neck of a goose, holding her head betwixt their legs, and such is the opinion of Master John of Scotland, alias Scotus.
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  #8  
Old 06-05-2003, 10:36 AM
chm chm is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Francis E Dec, Esq
I forgot to clarify that I am interested in the period immediately prior to toilet paper, and particularly (but not exclusively) America. I don't know when that was, but say, circa the American Civil War.
According to my grandmother, in her family newsprint was prefered over catalog pages, as it was the softer alternative.

That's in British Columbia in the 20's and early 30's.
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  #9  
Old 06-05-2003, 10:36 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is online now
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[matrix reloaded reference]
SPOILER:
Like wiping your arse with silk
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  #10  
Old 06-05-2003, 10:42 AM
aka_10003 aka_10003 is offline
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" If you see someone in a public men's room getting a wet paper towel before heading to the stall, that might be me.)"

"the wet paper towel just breaks up and gets entangled"

--------------------------------

I am glad to inform you that the Baby Wipes from your local drugstore will work just fine. And they'll leave you baby fresh.
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  #11  
Old 06-05-2003, 11:11 AM
ChunkyLover53 ChunkyLover53 is offline
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According to the PBS series "Frontier House" each family member had a small piece of cloth on a nail in the outhouse. They were responsible for washing then replacing their own cloth after each use.
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  #12  
Old 06-05-2003, 11:16 AM
Shodan Shodan is online now
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In some cultures, they used their left hand, which led to a strict taboo against eating with that hand. It is mentioned in, of all places, From Russia With Love, by Ian Fleming. James Bond is about to grab a piece of stew meat out of a communal pot in a gypsy encampment in Turkey, when Kerim Bey warns him sharply, "With the right hand, James! The left hand is used for only one purpose with these people."

It was some years before I figured out what he meant.

Regards,
Shodan
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  #13  
Old 06-05-2003, 11:30 AM
elmwood elmwood is offline
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Three shells.
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  #14  
Old 06-05-2003, 12:30 PM
bibliophage bibliophage is online now
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Cecil Adams on What did people use before toilet paper was invented?
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  #15  
Old 06-05-2003, 01:17 PM
Uncommon Sense Uncommon Sense is offline
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Re: Re: What did people wipe/wash with before toilet paper.

Quote:
Originally posted by Mangetout
TMI: the wet paper towel thing doesn't work for m... I mean my 'friend', who 'says' he has a hairy arse, 'apparently', the wet paper towel just breaks up and gets entangled. Ahem.
Although located on different continents, we must have the same friend, what a coincidence. As he`s told me the same thing.
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  #16  
Old 06-05-2003, 01:56 PM
Penumbra Penumbra is offline
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When did the practice of butt whiping begin? Surley there was a time in history when people just squatted down, emptied their bowels, and then just got back up and went on with their buisness. Are human beings the only animal to practice the art of butt whiping?
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  #17  
Old 06-05-2003, 02:34 PM
Nate the Great Nate the Great is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Penumbra
Are human beings the only animal to practice the art of butt whiping?
Cats lick their butts. Dogs wipe their asses on the ground. Does that count?
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  #18  
Old 06-05-2003, 03:02 PM
medstar medstar is offline
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aka_10003 says:

Quote:
I am glad to inform you that the Baby Wipes from your local drugstore will work just fine. And they'll leave you baby fresh.
Um . . . please read the directions on the package. If it doesn't specifically allow flushing, you must dispose of the baby wipe in a trash can. Most baby wipes that I've checked on are not flushable. Go to the toilet paper section and look for Cottonelle flushable wipes. HTH
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  #19  
Old 06-05-2003, 03:47 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is online now
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Quote:
Originally posted by aka_10003
I am glad to inform you that the Baby Wipes from your local drugstore will work just fine. And they'll leave you baby fresh. [/B]
This I know.. er.. I mean, thanks, I'll tell my 'friend'
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  #20  
Old 06-05-2003, 07:29 PM
ltfire ltfire is offline
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I'm having a hard time envisioning the use of a corn cob. Shucked first? Kernels removed? Dinner leftover thats put in the belt for later use? Used in and out, or one slide vertically and rotate 1/4 inch? Sheesh!
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  #21  
Old 06-05-2003, 07:33 PM
aka_10003 aka_10003 is offline
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medstar wrote: "
... it doesn't specifically allow flushing"


---------

I have been flushing these wipes for a long enough time to determine that the manufacturers are just playing it safe. But then, that depends on your plumbing and grequency of wipe usage.
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  #22  
Old 06-05-2003, 08:05 PM
Susanann Susanann is offline
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I heard doctor Dean ODay, on his radio program, tell people how unsantitary, unclean, toilet paper really is.

"Washing" was a common method in the old day, if you had access to water.

Anyways, the good doctor then asked the listeners, hypothetically, if they were in a park, and fell down, and their hands landed in a bunch of poop,

Would they prefer?

1. to wipe their hands with toilet paper, and that is it, you can wipe as good as you want, but you can only "wipe" your hands with dry tp.

2. wash their hands with water, soap and water, etc.


Which is the cleanest method for any cleanup?
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  #23  
Old 06-05-2003, 08:19 PM
Susanann Susanann is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Penumbra
When did the practice of butt whiping begin? Surley there was a time in history when people just squatted down, emptied their bowels, and then just got back up and went on with their buisness.

The older people in my family tell me that that is exactly what indian women did as far as peeing goes. A woman would stop, squat, get up, and walk away, leaving a puddle, even in town. Near as I can guess, up until ww1 time period or so. I didnt really have a problem with what the indian women did.

I am not going to say that the indian women were not as cultured or as smart as today's college educated soccer moms who will wait in line at a womans restroom for 35 minutes or more(while watching the men go in and out of the mens restroom every 2 minutes).
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  #24  
Old 06-06-2003, 01:09 AM
LorieSmurf LorieSmurf is offline
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Baby wipes are good, especially if they come in a little packet to carry in your pocket. Or you can take a few and put 'em in a baggy to take to work and such. That Brand of Cottonelle toilet paper also makes wipes that flush. I use the generic "equate" kind that you can flush. I'm having a healthy sex life and i want my parts to be clean and fresh. This stuff will wipe your ass CLEAN. that is all.
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  #25  
Old 06-06-2003, 10:07 AM
handy handy is offline
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The History of Toilet Paper:
http://abcnews.go.com/sections/us/Wo...ffiles156.html

&

http://www.scottbrand.com/history/

" Mussel shells were very popular in coastal regions prior to toilet paper's popularity (approx. 1900). "

"Islamic tradition prescribes that you should wipe with stones or clods of earth, rinse with water, and finally dry with linen cloth. Pious men actually carry clods of earth in their turbans and carry small pitchers of water solely for this purpose. These men traditionally blot the end of their penis with pebbles or clods of earth. "
"In ancient Rome, all public toilets had a sponge attached to the end of a stick which soaked in a bucket of brine (salty water). The rich used wool and rosewater."
http://home.nycap.rr.com/useless/toilet_paper/
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  #26  
Old 06-06-2003, 08:56 PM
raygirvan raygirvan is offline
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Mussel shells

Aha! The three sea shells...
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  #27  
Old 06-06-2003, 09:05 PM
Muffin Muffin is online now
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I know of one outdoor ed instrctor who advocates using the end of a stick.
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  #28  
Old 06-07-2003, 05:01 AM
ravesaint ravesaint is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Susanann
Would they prefer?

1. to wipe their hands with toilet paper, and that is it, you can wipe as good as you want, but you can only "wipe" your hands with dry tp.

2. wash their hands with water, soap and water, etc.


Which is the cleanest method for any cleanup?
I'm sure the soap and water is the better of the two, but it's sorta different, seeing as I don't put my butt into my mouth. No exceptions!

I'm quite content with the current state of affairs.
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  #29  
Old 10-30-2003, 06:53 AM
MmmDonut MmmDonut is offline
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Thank you God for toilet paper.
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  #30  
Old 10-30-2003, 07:40 AM
ChoosyChipsAndCeilingWhacks ChoosyChipsAndCeilingWhacks is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by ltfire
I'm having a hard time envisioning the use of a corn cob. Shucked first? Kernels removed? Dinner leftover thats put in the belt for later use? Used in and out, or one slide vertically and rotate 1/4 inch? Sheesh!
Of course, it wouldn't be a COB if the kernels weren't removed!

My grandfather once presented everyone in the family with an electric corncob. Hilarity ensued. I was ten, I didn't get it.

Now I do and I'm having myself a good laugh.

Ahhh...the pleasure of the delayed reaction. 23 years delayed.

L
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  #31  
Old 10-30-2003, 08:03 AM
alterego alterego is offline
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three seashells.


o.O
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  #32  
Old 10-30-2003, 08:27 AM
toadspittle toadspittle is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by bibliophage
Cecil Adams on What did people use before toilet paper was invented?
You know, this is one of Cecil's more pathetic efforts, and the reason this question keeps getting asked again and again is because no one has answered it with any satisfaction. Cecil only covers about 200 years of history. What did humans do for the other 100,000+ years?
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