When was soap invented?

What did people in ancient Greece ,Roman Empire or even medieval Europe use for personal hygiene ,did they have soap in those times?
I understand that aristocracy and rich elite had saunas, baths and fancy perfumes etc.,but how about peasants and poor masses.
PS.I just can’t imagine living without soap.

Containers of what is believed to be soap have been found as far back as 2800 B.C.

The elite Romans often used oils in place of soap. They were rubbed into the skin, and a special tool was used to scrape it off, removing dirt and dead skin cells.

The poor could often make their own soap, assuming they had the facilities and materials. (A city dweller had less opprotunity to make soap, and probably had to buy it if he could afford it.)

Soapmaking was an established craft in Europe by the seventh century, making soaps in various qualities. Vegetable and animal oils were used with ashes of plants, along with fragrance.

Thanks LISSA . :slight_smile:

Nothing to add about the soap, but the peasants and poor folk likely spent some time in the nearest body of water…

Rome, at least, had public baths of various grades, many cheap enough for ordinary people to afford. (This site says there were as many as 900 of them.) I suppose a town anywhere in the Empire would have proportionate numbers. As Lissa says, they rubbed on olive oil (quite cheap at the time) and scraped off dirt with a tool called a strigil.

It is possible to accidentally make a sort of soap - if you are trying to clean greasy cooking pots in plain water, it is almost imppossible, but (I discovered this while camping in the ‘wilderness’ one time) if you add some riverbank soil to the pan, it sort of absorbs the fat, as well as being slightly abrasive and helps to scour away the food residues.

That, on its own, isn’t soap but someone who had stumbled across this method might instead dump some ashes from the cooking fire in the dirty pot - even if only to carry them off for disposal - a combination of animal fat and bonfire ashes makes a very crude sort of soap.