Why Perfume is Called ‘Toilet Water’

  • By: Ash Iris
  • Time to read: 4 min.

Why perfume is called toilet water may have been a thought that grazed your mind wondering about department stores or maybe even while you were sitting on the Toilet. 

You may think in disgust that, just maybe, Toilette was possibly made with toilet water way back when or perhaps a weird translation issue, but why would it even translate as “toilet water,” of all things? 

Like a genie, we’ve answered all your question’s down below. 

The French word Toilette was originally in reference to readying one’s-self for the day ahead. ‘Toilet Water’ comes from Eau de Toilette’s use of concentrated waters like Lavender, Rose, or Lilac.

A Chloé perfume with “eau de toilette” written on the box.

Why is it called Toilet Water?

Eau de Toilette was initially created to mask natural odor as bathing wasn’t regularly practiced during the time of its invention in the 1500s. Used as a skin fresher catered to women, the aromatic water was used to “wash” themselves. 

Jumping to the sixteenth Century, a Toile, referring to “a small piece of cloth,” was initially used as a wrapper and later a cloth over the shoulder when dressing the hair or shaving. In the 19th Century, the word Toilette came to denote a dressing room, while in the Western Hemisphere, such as the United States, Toilette signified a lavatory. 

Because of language evolution and literal rather than contextual French to English translation, the name stuck as Eau de Toilette or, in other words, Toilet Water. 

La Toilette is a woman beautifying herself in attire and makeup for an outing. The term primarily refers to her outfit in addition to the fragrance used. 

Eau De Toilette is grooming water or beauty water. 

Faire Sa Toilette is “to wash” in literal translation or in the context of perfume, a dedicated water type to make yourself be or smell fresh, clean, and pretty. 

Toilette was once used to describe one’s garments, aroma included. Over time, the term has been twisted in reference to only one’s fragrance, dress unincluded. The word is now old fashioned, no longer used in conversation unless directly speaking on the topic of fragrance. 

What is Eau de Toilette?

Its lower oil concentration has coined Toilette as an “aromatic water.” 

Traditionally, Eau de Toilette had significant components of lavender water, lilac water, violet water, and geranium water. 

Now, this perfume type has an alcohol base of 10 to 15 percent with a high dilution of essential oils compared to its counterparts, Eau de Parfum and Extrait de Parfum, and small amounts of water. 

Early History

Eau de Toilette was created as the predecessor of eau de cologne during fourteenth century Hungary. Its formation came from an unknown Hungarian man to be gifted to the Queen Elisabeth of Hungary. The contents of the Water included rosemary, specifically added to allow for absorption through the skin. Named Eau de la Reine de Hongarie translates to Water for the Queen of Hungary; scientists are still determining if it was truly explicitly created for the Queen of Hungary. Nonetheless, it is the earliest known reference to Eau de Toilette. 

During Louis XIV’s reign in France from 1638 – 1715, he used a concoction of aromas dubbed Aqua Angeli or Heavenly Water. Its composition included aloes-wood, nutmeg, storax, cloves, and benzoin, boiled in rosewater that would simmer for over 24hrs before jasmine and orange blossom water, along with a few grains of musk, were added to the mix. 

King Louis XIV would have all his garments rinsed in the aromatic brew, earning him the distinction of honor as, ‘The Sweetest-Smelling King of All.’ 

Is Eau de Toilette Right For You?

Choosing your next new fragrance purchase can be overwhelming. Especially if you’re considering the price point, longevity, body chemistry, and the thought of “will I actually wear this?”

Eau de Toilette is lighter in fragrance, and that lightness translates to its wear time. Toilette only lasts 4-6 hours upon application, even with heavy spritzing. That may be ideal for some, especially those more sensitive to heavier perfume smells or looking for something slightly cheaper than the full-priced Eau de Perfume. 

As described above, oil concentration is more diluted than Eau de Parfum, sitting at a 10 to 20% concentration, while Eau de Toilette tops off at 8 – 10%. 

The most important factor when purchasing a Toilette is who you’re buying from. Quality especially counts in regards to Toilettes. The scent will be more aromatic, and its longevity will last longer than most cheap twenty-dollar Toilettes. 

Final Word 

Verdict; no one in history was ever spraying glorified “toilet water” on themselves as fragrance. 

That’s a bit of a relief!