What Ever Happened to Colored Toilet Paper?

published Mar 24, 2018
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(Image credit: Branded in the ’80s)

If you’re old enough, you might remember a time when toilet paper came in a glorious cornucopia of soft pastel colors, from lavender to pink to beige. But these days, when you walk the toilet paper aisle, everything is the same color: white. So, we need to know: Whatever happened to all the colored toilet paper? In short, some say it’s to do with the dyes, while others think it simply went out of style.

(Image credit: Midcentury Home Style)

When was colored toilet paper popular?

According to Toilet Paper World (yes, that is a real publication, although it hasn’t been updated since 2014), colored toilet paper first appeared in the ’50s. This was the heyday of the colorful bathroom: spaces with toilets, tubs, sinks, tile, and maybe even towels carefully color coordinated. Having only one toilet paper option would’ve been a real travesty because who could bear to bring mismatching TP into such a carefully crafted space?

(Image credit: Retro Planet)

When did colored toilet paper fall from grace?

Sometime around the ’80s, colored toilet paper began to disappear from the shelves. Toilet Paper World quotes someone called the Toilet Paper King on a few potential reasons for its decline. (The Toilet Paper King, apparently, is Kenn Fischburg, president of Toilet Paper World. It is unclear where the authority for this toilet paper monarchy derives from or whether the title is self-assigned.)

Apparently, doctors began warning people that the dyes in colored toilet paper could be harmful to their skin. And there were environmental concerns about the dyes, too.

These two things might’ve been a blow to those brightly colored rolls, but I think the real reason for the demise of colored toilet paper was a change in bathroom design. You do occasionally see a colorful space, but if you look at modern bathrooms, they are, for the most part, all white. And the matchy-matchy aesthetic that predominated in the ’60s and ’70s isn’t nearly so popular now.

Scott still made colored toilet paper as recently as 2004, but today all their offerings come in a single color: white. (Interestingly enough, pink toilet paper is still a very big thing in France.)

(Image credit: Renova)

The pastel toilet paper of the ’60s and ’70s may be lost to time, but if you really long to wipe your bottom with something colorful, Renova offers a line of colored toilet paper, in rather startlingingly bright hues (and also in brown and black). It’s not cheap, though: a six-pack of the blue will set you back $16.20. IKEA also has some colored toilet paper options.

While reading reviews for Renova’s pink toilet paper (yes, I read toilet paper reviews, I’m a weirdo), I noticed a charming comment. Someone calling themselves BKB left a five-star review and said:

The color matches perfectly with my 1960 bathroom, will repurchase.

For some reason, knowing that somewhere out there one person is still carefully matching the shade of their toilet paper to their bathroom warmed my heart. Carry on, BKB. Never settle for less than the perfect match.