Soap on a rope: The old-fashioned gift that made a real splash in the 1970s

Vintage soap on a rope at Click Americana

Note: This article may feature affiliate links, and purchases made may earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. Find out more here.

Facebook
Pinterest
Twitter
Email
LinkedIn
Pocket
Reddit

Let’s consider for a moment the soap on a rope phenomenon — a peculiar fusion of the useful and the whimsical that once occupied a prominent place in bathrooms everywhere.

We traced the concept back to at least 1937 — the frugal-minded Great Depression era — when Popular Science magazine suggested that bar soaps be hung on homemade cords to keep them from dissolving away in wash water.

After that, this unassuming yet quirky invention began to be manufactured on a large scale, serving as a practical response to a universally recognized annoyance: the slippery getaway soap bar. Early brands included Roycemore, Shulton and Spruce-Up.

Popular Science - November 1937: Soap on a cord idea
Popular Science – November 1937: Soap on a cord idea

Up until the late 1960s, the English Leather Company still called their product “Shower soap on cord” — nowhere near as catchy as the rhyming name that was later used — and suggested that the loop of string could be used to hang the bar from the faucet or even around the neck.

Taking the stage as a genuine superstar in the 70s, soap on a rope made its way into gift shops, established a place in the hearts of many, and even became a favored novelty Father’s Day gift. The humble bar of soap, suspended from a sturdy rope, offered a unique and humorous alternative to the traditional tie or aftershave.

By the 1960s and 1970s, Avon was leading the soap-on-a-rope market, with more than a dozen different soap shapes, colors and aromas available — many of which you can see below.

Yet, like many seemingly practical inventions, soap on a rope came with its own quirks. The soap — even while attached to the rope — could still make a daring break for freedom, or simply leave a lonely piece of string dangling from the shower handle, and a soap-less individual pondering the fickleness of bathroom accessories.

English Leather men’s toiletries, including shower soap on cord (1967)

English Leather shower soap on cord (1967)


1960s Avon’s Island Lime aftershave lotion & green soap-on-a-rope

1960s Island Lime aftershave lotion and green soap on a rope from Avon


Avon Blue Blazer fragrance blue shower soap on a rope (1967)

Avon Blue Blazer fragrance blue shower soap on a rope (1967)


Forest green Royal Regiment fragrance gift soap from Max Factor (1967)

Forest green Royal Regiment fragrance gift soap on a rope from Max Factor (1967)

ALSO SEE: What were the best colognes for men in the 60s & 70s? Here’s a look!


Vintage Avon Spicy scented soap for men (1960s)

Vintage Avon Spicy scented soap on a rope for men (1960s)


Retro 1970 Excalibur fragrance spray talc and soap on a rope from Avon

Retro 1970 Excalibur fragrance spray talc and soap on a rope from Avon


1970s Oland and Excalibur fragrance and soap for men

1970s Oland and Excalibur fragrance and soap on a rope for men


Kanon men’s grooming kit (1972)

Kanon men's grooming kit including soap on a rope (1972)


Avon Sure Winner fragrance grooming goodies for guys (1972)

This creamy beige-colored novelty shower soap on a blue rope was shaped like a tire

Avon Sure Winner fragrance grooming goodies for guys (1972)


Retro 70s Tai Winds shower soap bar (1972)

Retro 70s Tai Winds shower soap bar (1972)


Old Avon Shampoo-shower soap for men (1972)

Old Avon Shampoo-shower soap for men (1972)


Vintage Avon Blend 7 aftershave and soap-on-a-rope (1973)

Vintage Avon Blend 7 aftershave and soap-on-a-rope (1973)

DON’T MISS: Smooth, slick & sexy: The best vintage men’s hair products from the 60s, 70s & 80s


Deep Woods log-shaped shower soap from Avon (1973)

Deep Woods log-shaped shower soap - Avon soap-on-a-rope (1973)


First down football-shaped soap-on-a-rope (1973)

First down football-shaped soap-on-a-rope (1973)


Old Avon Wild Country and Avon for Men shower soaps (1973)

Old Avon Wild Country and Avon for Men shower soaps (1973)


Vintage 70s football helmet soap-on-a-rope (1973)

Vintage 70s football helmet soap-on-a-rope (1973)


Vintage 70s shower soap on a rope varieties (1974)

ALSO SEE: Remember these old soap brands?

Vintage 70s shower soap on a rope varieties (1974)


Vintage 70s blue Wilbur the Whale soap-on-a-rope for kids (1974)

Vintage 70s blue Wilbur the Whale soap-on-a-rope for kids (1974)


Jovan Musk Oil For Men – including soap on a rope: the No-Holds Bar (1975)

Jovan Musk Oil For Men - including soap on a rope - the No-Holds Bar (1975)


Musk by English Leather – men’s grooming products (1978)

Musk by English Leather - men's grooming products (1978)

 


English Leather grooming products for men – soap on a rope (1979)

English Leather grooming products for men - soap on a rope (1979)

English Leather Fragrance Soap On A Rope for Men
$14.99 ($2.50 / Ounce)
Shop now
02/18/2024 11:05 pm GMT

Avon Wild Country grooming products for men (1982)

Avon Wild Country grooming products for men with white soap on a rope (1982)


Cute vintage yellow telephone-shape soap on a rope for kids (1982)

Cute vintage yellow telephone-shape soap on a rope for kids (1982)


Musk for Men grooming products from Avon (1983)

Musk for Men grooming products from Avon (1983)


Vintage 80s men’s Suede fragrance grooming products from Avon (1983)

Vintage 80s men's Suede fragrance grooming products from Avon (1983)


Clint and Trazarra by Avon gift sets for men with soap and cologne (1983)

Clint and Trazarra by Avon gift sets for men with soap and cologne (1983)


Vintage 80s Weekend men’s soap and talc (1984)

Vintage 80s Weekend men's soap and talc (1984)

ALSO SEE: Vintage gift sets for men: After-shave, cologne & other grooming gifts for him

PS: If you liked this article, please share it! You can also get our free newsletter, follow us on Facebook & Pinterest. Thanks for visiting and for supporting a small business! 🤩 

Facebook
Pinterest
Twitter
LinkedIn
Reddit
Email

You might also like...

The fun never ends:

Comments on this story

One Response

  1. In the 70s and 80s, soap-on-a-rope was a go-to gift for men everywhere (I wonder if there were brands for women?). They were ideal for kids to give as gifts, since they were inexpensive and guaranteed to be used (everyone needs soap, after all). Worst-case scenario, they were easy to re-gift. As a concept, soap-on-a-rope made a lot of sense; the rope kept you from dropping the soap in the shower, and when you were done, you could hang it on the faucet or shower nozzle to drip dry, without creating a gooey puddle. I myself received more than a few English Leather and Old Spice soaps-on-a-rope over the years. I think the only reason they fell out of fashion was the popularity of liquid body washes.

Leave a comment here!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.