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S.O.S Celebrates 100 Year Anniversary

Did you know that 2017 marks the 100-year anniversary of the invention of S.O.S Soap Pads? 100 years! When S.O.S Soap Pads were introduced, electricity and indoor plumbing were still considered luxuries, the Eiffel Tower was the tallest structure in the world, and women didn’t yet have the right to vote.

100 years
If you’ve looked around our website, you’ll know that S.O.S Soap Pads were invented by a cooking utensil salesman named Irwin Cox. He wanted something to make his products memorable, so he designed soap filled scrubbers in his basement, dipping balls of steel wool into soap and letting them air dry. He gave a couple away with every sale, so customers could keep their new pots and pans clean and polished. It wasn’t long before his homemade soap pads became more popular than the cooking utensils he was selling! Cox’s wife called the pads S.O.S – which stood for “Save Our Saucepans” – and the rest is history!

Fast forward 100 years and S.O.S Soap Pads are a trusted scrubbing powerhouse for millions of people worldwide, ‘saving’ everything from pots and pans to shower walls, stovetops to patio furniture, golf clubs to plastic shoes… and everything in between. (check out the uses and tips page of this website if you want to see just a few of the ways S.O.S Soap pads and other S.O.S products can be used around the house, garage, workshop, and patio!)

As we celebrate a century of quick and easy cleaning, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at what life was like 100 years ago:


    • Woodrow Wilson was President, Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford ruled the cinema and Pablo Picasso was in his prime.
    • Electricity and indoor plumbing were still considered luxuries
    • Women didn’t have the right to vote (The 19th amendment wasn’t ratified until 1920)
    • The United States entered World War I and Uncle Sam’s iconic “I Want You” poster was released
    • The Eiffel Tower was the tallest structure in the world, standing at 324 meters tall  (For comparison, the tallest structure in the world today is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, standing at over 828 meters tall)
    • There were about 5 million cars in the U.S. (Today there are more than 260 million registered vehicles)
    • The median household income averaged around $700 per year (If you were a man that is. If you were a woman, cut that number in half)
    • A house in American cost roughly $4,000 according to Census records. And homeowners insurance didn’t yet exist, so home ownership was risky. (Not to mention, the walls of your home probably had lead paint on them and your insulation was likely asbestos)
    • A gallon of gas was around $0.15 per gallon
    • A postage stamp cost $0.02
    • A loaf of bread was around $0.09, a dozen eggs were about $0.34 and a quart of milk averaged around $0.10


    • A trusted method for cleaning pots and pans was to scrub them with squares of cheese cloth or old flour bags
    • Modern indoor plumbing wasn’t commonplace for everyone, so many people kept themselves clean using ‘washstands.’ These were typically cabinets or two-tiered tables with a wash bowl on the top and water pitcher on the bottom. Washstands had to be cleaned often with Borax, ammonia or yellow soap, especially if the household used a commode washstand (with a chamber pot in the bottom)
    • Doing the laundry required a washboard, a wash boiler & stirring stick, a wringer and a clothesline. A wash boiler was a metal tub and the stirring stick was used to literally stir the clothing as it was boiled
    • Floors were washed on hands and knees with a wet cloth and mild soap, then wiped dry
    • Carpets, rugs, cushions, and bedding were hung over a clothesline or railing and dust, dirt and any bugs were beaten out of them using a tool called a carpet beater
    • Electric vacuum cleaners and washing machines were commercially available, but they were too expensive for most middle-class families.  And many homes didn’t have the electricity needed to run them anyway!


Lucky for us, both housework and the world have come a long way since 1917. But 100 years later, S.O.S Soap Pads remain a proven cleaning solution for people worldwide. We’re so proud to be celebrating a century of clean and are very grateful to the millions of people who rely on us daily to make their toughest cleaning jobs easier.  We’re so honored to be America’s #1 selling Soap Pad* and we’re already looking forward to the next 100 years.  Happy Scrubbing!

For cleaning tips, tricks and hints don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, too!

*Based on IRI sales data

Sources: (Bureau of Transportation Statistics), U.S. Census,,,, Things girls like to do (1917), Gilman, Elizabeth Hale, via,,

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