Written records of soap date back thousands of years to Sumeria, where plant extracts, vegetable oils, and alkaline salts were used to clean.
Ancient Romans discovered animal fats worked even better for washing.
Although soap’s popularity waned in the plague ridden medieval years, when bathing was considered unhealthy, it didn’t die, and secret recipes continued to be passed down through soap maker’s guilds.
Up until the early 1800s, most households made their own soap; only a small fraction of people bought it.
In 1806, William Colgate opened a soap manufacturing business and added perfume to his soap.
It was a huge success.
From there, other manufacturers got in on it, and the competitive bar soap industry began.
In the 1970s, a whole new revolution with “deodorant” soaps revived soap manufacturers’ rivalry for consumer dollars.