How is Toilet Paper Made: A Step by Step guide to the manufacturing process

Every ear, Americans use nearly 1000 rolls of toilet paper. It is useful for personal hygiene, removing spills & makeup & wiping off things during bathroom chores. A roll usually lasts 5 days until it needs a replacement. That means, huge volumes of toilet paper need to be manufactured & delivered to consumers on a regular basis. How is this toilet paper made though? Let’s find out.

Modern toilet paper is a recent invention & it has grown in use due to its multi-purpose nature. After all, its Roman & medieval predecessors were neither sanitary nor functionally efficient. Then in 1880, the British Perforated Paper Company invented an iteration of coarse paper & sold it in boxes. Exactly a decade later, the Scott Toilet Paper Company of the USA, created the modern Toilet Paper roll.


Today, toilet paper has become less coarse, diversified across 1 ply & 2 ply varieties, & also got features like fragrance, embossing & easy tear-away. It is now made with modern practices on the same materials. There is also toilet paper for specific applications such as septic tanks that need toilet paper that disintegrated faster. There are also different quality levels. Cheaper toilet paper might not dissolve as fast in water, leading to clogs over time.

Toilet paper is made in big factories that can produce a ton of rolls in a short period of time. The rolls can be made out of wood and recycled paper.

What is Toilet Paper Made of:

In simple words, Toilet paper is created from bleached & homogenized Kraft pulps i.e. a super-fine liquid version of the paper mache that is used in crafts. It is then stretched, dried & scraped off cylinders in the form of crepes. These long crepes then get rolled & packed for distribution.

Then again, manufacturing toilet rolls is not all that simple. Based on the material, there are two types of rolls. The first is the traditional virgin roll. It is manufactured from wood chips & it derives its name from being a direct product of the forest. The second is the roll that’s made from recyclable papers. This kind helps reduce deforestation & save the environment.

The Actual manufacturing Process: what is toilet paper made of?

Here you can understand the steps that lead to the final paper roll in two different ways. It is generally made with machines but can be done by hand:

Let’s examine the toilet manufacturing process in more detail. It is made in big factories to reduce the production costs.

Is toilet paper made out of Wood and trees?

Yes, wood is used to make toilet paper.

The facility gets timber into its yard. This includes hardwood trees like Oak, Maple, or Gum. Additionally, softwood trees like Douglas firs or Southern Pines are also chopped down.

Next, they remove the bark of these trees without wasting any wood. The wooden logs are further cut into a standardized size of 1 inch by a quarter-inch of wooden chips. These small chips make it easier to convert into a uniform pulp.

Typically, wooden chips are divided into batches of 50 tons. The blend is 70% hardwood & 30% softwood. Then each batch is cooked with 1000 gallons of chemicals until they become a slurry. This slurry is then sent to a 60-foot digester that further cooks it under high pressures. These processes evaporate all the moisture from the wood chips, reducing the net weight to 25 tons. It now contains 15 tons of usable cellulose fiber, some lignin or binding agent, & minor amounts of other substances.

Photo by Brian Wangenheim on Unsplash

The pulp is cleaned in a washer & separated from the lignin & cooking chemicals. Both are bleached separately. At this stage, a lot of chlorine-based bleaches are used, especially chlorine dioxide. These bleaches are very harmful to the environment. Nonetheless, the bleached pulp is diluted with 99.5 units of water for every half a unit of pulp. This mixture is sprayed on 18 feet-wide meshes to produce a matted fiber where excess water simply drains off. Typically, this process results in 6500 feet of fiber every minute.

The fiber is then hot pressed & dried with a Yankee dryer. Now its moisture is reduced to 5% & it gains absorbent properties. In the final stages, it can be rolled into single layer 1 ply tissues or double-layer 2 ply tissues. The paper is placed into converting machines that automatically unwind the fiber, stretch n slit, & roll it up around cardboard tubings. Each roll is then packaged & made ready for distribution.

As you can see, producing toilet paper involves several steps. Factories check the quality of the paper during every step of the production process to make sure that everything is up to their standards.

If there are toilet rolls that are not strong enough, they won’t be sold.

Is toilet paper made out of recycled paper?

Yes, some factories use recycled paper to replace some of the wood chips. This is often indicated on the packaging of these toilet paper rolls.

Here, wooden chips get replaced by waste paper. First, paper is aggregated from dry waste collectors & recyclers. Then, all non-paper elements are removed from the stock. For example, if the paper is sourced from used stationery, then staples & pins are removed from the stock.

All the paper is added into a huge vat with water & detergents. This turns the stock into pulp. Thereafter, the pulp is rinsed repeatedly through various screens until inks, coatings & other unnecessary chemicals get removed.

Once the slurry is clean, it is oxidized with peroxide. This helps whiten the pulp without the use of harmful bleaches. Then it goes through the same production steps as virgin toilet paper i.e. dilution, spraying & rolling.

This type of toilet paper isn’t as white as virgin toilet paper, but it gets the job done.

Common By-Products of toilet paper:

In the case of virgin paper, huge quantities of wood bark & black liquor get produced. Both these byproducts get reused as fuel for the manufacturing plant. Wood-based manufacturing also produces tall oil, an ingredient in many household products.

In both wood & recycled paper processes, nearly 95% of chemicals are recovered from the process & reused in subsequent batches. Either way, consumers are making a slow transition from virgin paper to recycled paper & the manufacturers are also seeing merit in the reduced production costs of toilet paper. Some people are even opting for a bidet. This is a water spray that cleans your body. Given that the water can be heated, this can be more comfortable to use than toilet paper.


Modern toilet paper will not witness a huge upgrade for a long time. It has more or less, achieved a quality of convenience for the consumers. Most consumers do not find much difference between virgin & recycled paper, except for the aesthetics. Some consumers did feel that recycled paper needed more quantities for the same result.

Nonetheless, the innovation in this industry focuses on production. It is about manufacturing more volumes with a lesser impact on the environment. It is safe to say that technological integration in recent years, shall be at the manufacturing end i.e. the use of eco-friendly materials & chemicals.

We have to keep in mind that not every region uses toilet paper. In Japan, for example, they use bidets instead of toilet paper.

There are different qualities of toilet paper. Some dissolve much faster than others. If the toilet paper doesn’t dissolve fast enough, it can create clogs in the toilet. This is why wet wipes and paper towels shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet.

While it is possible to make toilet paper at home, most people just buy it in the store. Toilet paper is mass-produced in big factories. They use wood and recycled paper to make this paper.

More recently, people have started to use wet wipes. These can’t be flushed though so you have to be careful when you use these. Plumbers recommend that you stick to toilet paper as this doesn’t clog up your toilet.