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The History Of Adult Disposable Underwear

The fascinating evolution of adult disposable diapers. From the AOL Partner Studio
Portsmouth, St John, Dominica, Caribbean
Richard Cummins via Getty Images
Portsmouth, St John, Dominica, Caribbean

To say that adult disposable underwear has come a long way is an understatement. They were once bulky and uncomfortable pieces of clothing that needed to be washed by hand. Now they’re disposable undergarments that you can barely feel. In partnership with Depend®, we show you the evolution of adult disposable underwear.

Ancient Times

In this era, people were resourceful, using natural materials such as leaf wraps or animal skins to control leaks. This included the use of “swaddling bands," pieces of fabric wrapped crosswise around the body and tightly around each limb.


Underwear for leaks in this era were rudimentary in nature: a simple rectangle of linen folded and fixed in place using safety pins.


The first disposable undergarment was fashioned using tissue paper inside a pair of rubber pants. Everything before this point was cloth.


Space travel helped to speed along the evolution of the garment. In the early days, male astronauts were saddled with an ill-fitting collection pouch and condom shaped sheath while their female counterparts wore “disposable absorption containment trunks” held together with a zipper.



The Depend line of products were established in the 1980s, in response to the growing issue of adult incontinence.


The big technological advancement was the liquid absorbing chemical known as sodium polychromate. It enabled the development of a special adult disposable underwear that could be worn by astronauts for an extended period of time.


Products for bladder leakage have truly entered the 21st century. Disposable undergarments like the Depend line of incontinence briefs look a lot like regular underwear and are available in different styles and colours for both men and women.

For decades, Depend® has empowered its customers to live an uninhibited life. Claim your life back with Depend and don’t let bladder leakage get in the way.

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