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  • A Goose's Neck on Random Gross Things People From History Actually Wiped With Before Toilet Paper

    (#2) A Goose's Neck

    Gargantua and Pantagruel is a satirical novel by a 16th-century French monk in which one of the characters speculates on the best way to wipe oneself after he deems paper inefficient and not wholly cleansing. After running through some options, his conclusion is that "the neck of a goose, that is well downed, if you hold her head betwixt your legs" is the perfect way to clean one's certain orifices. As one analysis surmised, "Some have seen the whole discussion as emblematic of the 'new era' of the Renaissance, when old certainties were washed away and the purpose of everything had to be rediscovered afresh.

  • Their Fingers on Random Gross Things People From History Actually Wiped With Before Toilet Paper

    (#7) Their Fingers

    In many countries—such as parts of Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East—it's disrespectful to offer your left hand in a handshake. People used to (and still do) wipe with their left hand. Calm down - it's not actually as gross as it sounds. In fact, it's probably more hygienic than toilet paper. The left hand is used to guide water (from a tap, jug, or bidet) over the behind. The hand is then washed (thoroughly) afterward.

  • An Old Rope Dangling In Seawater on Random Gross Things People From History Actually Wiped With Before Toilet Paper

    (#6) An Old Rope Dangling In Seawater

    You would think that, on a 17th-century sailor's diet of salted meat and sauerkraut, bowel movements would be few and far between. But in the event of a movement, sailors would dangle an old rope off the side of a ship and haul it up when they needed to wipe. 

  • Hemp And A Knight To Wipe For You on Random Gross Things People From History Actually Wiped With Before Toilet Paper

    (#5) Hemp And A Knight To Wipe For You

    In 15th and 16th century France, wiping using hemp (as well as lace and wool) was a luxury available to a small wealthy minority. 

    Of course, French kings did not dare wipe themselves, but instead employed Chevalier Porte-Coton, or “Knights of the Toilet Roll,” to wipe for them. Many kings, such as Louis XIV, even held court while using the commode. 

  • A Communal Sponge On A Stick on Random Gross Things People From History Actually Wiped With Before Toilet Paper

    (#1) A Communal Sponge On A Stick

    Ancient Romans were terrified of the demons and devils lurking in their sewer systems, but what they should have been scared of were the bacteria and diseases they passed around by wiping with a communal sponge attached to a stick.

    That's right: after Junius was done doing his business, he would wipe with an old sponge, dip it in salt water, and then pass that sponge to Cassius sitting nearby. Keep in mind that some public bathrooms had as many as 80 toilets (or rather, holes) all facing inwards. So that's 80 buttholes, one sponge. 

  • Dirt on Random Gross Things People From History Actually Wiped With Before Toilet Paper

    (#9) Dirt

    People from all over the globe have wiped with dirt and the elements surrounding it (grass, leaves, etc). it was particularly common in 18th century France. If you've ever been stuck in the woods for an extended period of time, you may have been here, too

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