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Soap Punishment

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Another victim of Soap Poisoning?

Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] Over the years, I got to be quite a connoisseur of soap. My personal preference was for Lux, but I found Palmolive had a nice, piquant after-dinner flavor - heady, but with just a touch of mellow smoothness. [long pause] Lifebuoy, on the other hand...
Ralphie: YECCHH!

A common punishment, mostly for children after they have said a dirty word or been caught telling lies, is to get their mouth washed out with soap. This often indicates a very conservative family, or a child who has been neglected and not taught "proper" language.

Starting to become Values Dissonance to some folks in Real Life due to the fact it can be dangerous (although it used to be Truth in Television), but mostly always Played for Laughs in movies, television, etc.


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  • A Super Bowl commercial showed a montage of kids with a bar of soap in their mouths for no apparent reason. Then we learn that the ad was for a new car with an automatic retracting roof. A kid says "holy sh--!" when he sees it in action, hence the soap in the mouth.

    Comic Books 
  • Issue 22 of Blood Syndicate had an operative of System make this kind of threat towards Masquerade in response to Masquerade cussing at him.
    System Goon: Tsk, tsk. Such a gutter mouth. I'm going to personally make sure you get your mouth washed out with with soap. Lye.
  • Volume three, issue 151 of Green Lantern has Kyle Rayner annoyed that some bank robbers he's confronting are cussing, so he punishes them by washing their mouths out with a construct of a bar of soap.
  • Done in Lucky Luke by Ma Dalton to one of her foul-mouthed (adult) sons, Jack who retaliates by threatening her favourite son Averell to eat one too with an axe. Unfortunately given Averell's eating habits this is not a punishment at all.
  • Nextwave: The Captain relates an incident back when he went by "Captain ☠☠☠☠" and introduced himself to Captain America. He later woke up in a dumpster with a bar of soap in his mouth.
  • In The Smurfs, Papa Smurf has a foul-mouthed Smurf brush his mouth with soap, but the resulting bubbles contain the same Symbol Swearing he was using before.

    Comic Strips 
  • In one Dennis the Menace (US) strip, Dennis comes outside, with bubbles coming out of his mouth, and he tells his friend that he was "right about that word."
  • Aunt Dolly does this to Wal after she hears him swearing at the livestock in an early Footrot Flats strip.
  • Jump Start for 12-16-11. Marcy Cobb tells her husband Joe that she had to wash out their son Joseph's mouth for lying. Joe reminds her that washing out someone's mouth with soap is for cursing, not lying.
  • One Little Lulu comic has Lulu taking Alvin to the bathroom to wash his mouth out for using dirty words. Alvin, however discovers that he likes the taste of soap and walks away eating the rest of the bar, leaving Lulu confused.

    Fan Works 
  • In A Mother's Love Chapter 54, Kushina punishes Tayuya with this at least four times for swearing in front of her and will sometimes threaten to get more soap. In her own backstory, her mother did to her once when she was a child. Borders on Hypocritical Humor when she and other ninjas still swear on occasion.
  • The Heavy finds Sonic forced to pull this punishment on Tails early in their relationship after the cub's foul mouth causes a public incident. He does not like it anymore than Tails does.
  • In No Such Luck, No Such Love, Lori forces Lola to brush her teeth with soap after she yells "Bullshit".
  • Sleepover at Fluttershy's: Applejack subjects Apple Bloom to this when the latter uses one too many curse words. Then Applejack slips up herself, giving Apple Bloom an opportunity for revenge.
  • In the Sherlock Holmes fanfic A Study In Situations, Mrs. Hudson washes out one of the Irregulars' mouths with soap after he says something profane about Holmes' scale of pay. The boy protests by saying that Holmes says the same word.
  • In Uzumaki Naruto: Birth of the New Demon King, the Kyuubi threatens Tayuya with this punishment every time she swears. Unfortunately, since it's Tayuya, she'd had forty-two bars of soap shoved in her mouth that past week.
  • In Everyday Life with Ultimate Girls, Makoto does a variation on this, using sour mouthwash made by Seiko and Ruruka instead of soap on Hiyoko when she goes too far in her pranks, disguising it as fruit juice and using it to "do something about that mouth of hers".
  • Referenced in the blooper reel for Glitter Force: Into the Glitterverse: the bit with Erika and Joker both cursing is called "Erika Needs Soap in the Mouth".
  • Nier: Automata (RE)Birth: After Alex's first word is the name of the android Jackass, his mother A2 decides that to prevent her son from saying more swears, she has Jackass change her name to Jacqueline and, after asking 9S what humans did to punish swearing, punishes Jackass by washing her mouth with soap every time Alex says her old name.
    Jackass/Jacqueline: Why, God?! Why did you let your humans build us with taste receptors?!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A Christmas Story:
    • Happens to Ralphie after he pulls a Precision F-Strike. After sending him to bed, his mother sticks the soap in her own mouth, just to see what it tastes like. It's as disgusting to her as it is to him. It also is mentioned in In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, the book on which the film is loosely based.
    • When Roger Ebert reviewed the movie, he commented and confirmed most of Ralph's soap flavors. He also commented that the "nuclear option" when he was growing up was Lava (a pumice soap, used mostly by mechanics and such), "Lava was for words we didn't know yet."
  • Le pupille: Sister Fioralba, the Stern Nun Mother Superior at a Catholic orphanage, catches the kids singing along with a song on the radio with the lyric "Kiss me, baby, on my little mouth." She washes their tongues with soap.
  • In Victor/Victoria the mobster is thought by his girlfriend to be attracted to a man ("Victor" who is actually a woman playing a man playing a woman). His girlfriend keeps going on about it, and he grabs a bar of soap. We expect rough anal sex as punishment to ensue; the next scene has his furious girlfriend throwing furniture at him- with a mouthful of soap.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit: When the Toon Patrol tries to interrogate Eddie on Roger's whereabouts, the leader Wiseass tells him to "cut the bull-schtick". Eddie responds, "You keep talking like that and I'm gonna have to wash your mouth out," and he shoves the bar in the mouth. The other weasels laugh at him as he coughs up bubbles, and he spits out the bar in one of them.


  • In the picture book The Attic Mice, written by Ethel Pochocki and illustrated by David Catrow, the mother does this to one of the mouse children after he gets too mouthy with her. Afterwards, he runs away and ends up eating a large portion of a bar of raspberry soap, thinking mistakenly that it was a treat. He ends up falling ill and the mother blames herself for it, not realizing what he did.
  • Ascendance of a Bookworm has a spell called waschen that consists of briefly summoning a swirling bubble of water to clean anything contained within it. At some point, one character is about to say something another considers best kept silent, so the latter casts a waschen around the former's head and insists they saw dirt on their mouth.
  • "Body Ritual among the Nacirema" by Horace Miner, an anthropological satire describing Eagleland as if it were an obscure tribe, parodies the trope as "a ritual ablution of the mouth for children which is supposed to improve their moral fibre", consistent with the Nacirema obsession with physical and moral cleanliness.
  • The Catcher in the Rye: Holden Caulfield tries asking Ward Stradlater if Stradlater gave Jane Gallagher the time. That, by the way, is old slang for having sex with someone. Stradlater responds "What a thing to say. Want me to wash your mouth out with soap?"
  • "Charles" by Shirley Jackson: This happens twice at the school the protagonist's son Laurie attends. The first time, Laurie says that fellow student Charles tricked a classmate into swearing in front of the teacher and getting her mouth washed out with soap. Then, Charles says the swear himself several times, getting his mouth washed out each time.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: In "Rodrick Rules", Greg ends up with this as a result of a failed attempt to tell on Rodrick for saying a bad word. Rodrick got off scot-free.
  • Harriet the Spy: Harriet's mother threatens to do this when Harriet keeps using the word "damned."
  • In the Harry Potter series, casting the cleaning spell Scourgify on a human will result in their mouth being washed out with soap. James Potter used it this way on Snape in the "Snape's Worst Memory" flashback from Order of the Phoenix.
  • Labyrinth of Reflections: In the second book, False Mirrors, Chingiz jokingly threatens his teenage apprentice Pat with this for saying that Padla came back home late in the night "drunk as ass", forcing the boy to choose words carefully when telling about the rest of Padla's adventure (which involved smuggling in a prostitute in a sports bag).
  • In The Luck Uglies, a children's fantasy novel by Paul Durham, the main character uses "pigshanks" as a curse word, but it's noted that her mother would wash her mouth out with soap if she ever heard her say it. The book has a glossary in the back of terms used within it. Regarding "pigshanks," it has only this to say: "A bad word. Use it, and your mother is likely to scrub your tongue with soap and a horse brush."
  • In Lucky You by Carl Hiaasen, there's a white supremacist whose nice liberal parents once washed his mouth out for saying the N-word. Now he can be as racist as he pleases, but he can't bring himself to utter the N-word, much to the amusement of the other white supremacists.
  • The autobiography of Aileen Porter, Papa Was A Preacher, tells about how she got her mouth scrubbed out with soap for saying "I'll be John Brown" within her father's hearing.
  • Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: Collateral Damage has FBI director Elias Cummings threaten this sort of punishment to Daniel Winters for throwing four-letter words around.
  • In The Throne of Fire, Carter Kane says that his sister Sadie called Apophis some names that if their grandmother heard them would cause her to wash Sadie's mouth out with soap for a year.
  • Whateley Universe: Mentioned in "The Three Little Witches" after Abra lets out a Precision F-Strike due to suffering a very humiliating failure in a long list of failures:
    “It was a cluster fuck!” Abra snapped as she paced around the floor in Clover’s room.
    “Abra!” Clover gasped, “If Mrs. Nelson heard you, she’d wash your mouth out with soap!”

    Live-Action TV 
  • Cybervillage has a variant (and a subverted one to boot). When Baragozin's deputy tries to beg him to undo the decision to fire him, Baragozin gives him a soap bar. The deputy thinks he must eat the soap as punishment. In reality, the Blank Slate Baragozin was trying to see if it was edible.
  • Used in Dinosaurs when Baby learns rude words from television. When Fran washes his mouth out, every time a bubble from his mouth pops it echoes the word.
  • During an episode of The Hogan Family, one of the boys curses constantly until Valerie does this.
  • In a Jessie Christmas Episode, after Bertram tells Emma he knows where she can put her decorations, Jessie warns him not to make her wash his mouth out with tinsel.
  • In an episode of Knots Landing featuring a scene at a Greasy Spoon, a female child in a booster seat (Judith Barsi) responds to the waitress asking her what she wants for lunch by saying "caca" (shit in Spanish) and her mother picks the child up and carries her towards the exit, ignoring the screaming child and saying "You are getting SOAP for lunch, young lady!".
  • Lois from Malcolm in the Middle goes the extra mile by putting dish soap on a toothbrush and reaming out her sons' mouths with it.
  • My Wife and Kids Junior decides to run the name Chuck through The Name Game algorithm in the presence of his parents. Cut to Junior sitting at the kitchen table with a bar of soap in his mouth.
  • On Resident Alien, the Hugh Mann alien Harry Vanderspeigle regularly swears around Max Hawthorne, who can see through to his alien form, as well as his friend Sahar. In "Welcome Aliens", Sahar threatens Harry with this if he doesn't stop. He tells her that he likes eating soap and swears a whole bunch more, telling her to bring it on.
  • Saturday Night Live: Sean Spicer as played by Melissa McCarthy attacked a reporter with a Super Soaker full of soap water to wash out his "filthy lying mouth".
  • One Sesame Street episode spoofs this in classic Grouch fashion: Oscar's mother washes his mouth out with ice cream as punishment for saying "please."
  • Supernanny: One mother used a squirt bottle of soap to discipline her son for telling his brother to "smell his own buttcrack". Jo Frost (the titular nanny) was horrified, and tried to convince the mother that she was invoking Disproportionate Retribution and poisoning the boy. Sadly, the mother's ego was too over-inflated, and she saw it as a way to command the respect she thinks she deserves, causing Jo and the mother to cuss each other out. And her poor husband sits there suffering. It really has to be seen to be believed.
  • In the United States of Tara, Alice, one of Tara's alters who is a 1950s housewife, invokes this trope after Kate gives her Ethical Slut rant. Alice follows through on the threat, driving Kate to get a job so she can move out (which becomes a major subplot for the next two seasons).
  • Happened several times on You Can't Do That on Television. One sketch had a kid get his mouth washed out with French soap for swearing in French. Another had a kid get his mouth washed out by his smoking parents for saying "Quit." One other sketch, a boy was swearing on purpose so his mother would give him the punishment because he liked the taste of soap.

  • Referenced in the second verse of the Dos Gringos track Jeremiah Weed after the narrator at a tender age told his parents of his life ambition to "fly the fucking F-16".
  • Cry Baby does this to herself in Melanie Martinez's "Soap". She's gotten her heart broken by a man and she washes her mouth with soap whenever she tells him she loves him.
    God I wish I never spoke. Guess I better wash my mouth out with soap.
  • In "The Life & Death Of Mr. Badmouth" from Uh Huh Her, PJ Harvey tells her lover to "rinse his mouth out with soap".

    Pro Wrestling 

    Video Games 
  • Part of Code Talker's backstory in Metal Gear Solid V; at the Indian boarding school he was sent to as a child, this was the punishment for the students speaking their native tongue.
  • The response to the player swearing in The Very Big Cave Adventure:
    You are in the Swear Box.
    It is a bare room with neither windows nor doors.
    In one corner is a washstand and a cake of soap.
    You know what to do.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • In one Bob and George subcomic Jailhouse Blues, Mega Man is fighting the foul-mouthed Yo Mamma Man and recalls how his mother always threatened to do this if he swore. Mega Man uses this as inspiration to use his Hypno Soap weapon to defeat Yo Mamma Man, but not before wondering how he knew that since he never had a mother.
  • In Knights of Buena Vista, Dick gives his Player Character a flaw of thinking his pet can talk. His character thinks his pet said something horrible about a princess, and said he was going to do this to his pet.
  • Played straight when a Bear orders it in City of Dream. Which leads to Talking with Signs.
  • Latchkey Kingdom: A cultist gets grabbed by a Krampus after swearing, and promptly submitted to the soap.
  • Narbonic: Helen's mother punished her daughter for saying the "g-word" (No, she wasn't swearing in Russian or Polish — as a Card-Carrying Villain, Helen Senior finds the word "good" obscene and dirty).
  • Tiffany and Corey: Tiffany does it to Corey in this cartoon, apparently after Corey picks up bad language at a golf course.
  • Forestdale: Adam summers and his father wind up receiving this punishment for their foul language, the former for being caught swearing by his mother while he was watching a baseball game and the latter for not only swearing but accidentally teaching his son the word itself.

    Web Original 
  • Inverted with SCP 1331: a bar of soap which, when it comes into contact with a human's mouth, causes any profanity uttered for a period of time logarithmic to time applied (10 seconds > 1 hour) to be subjected to Sound-Effect Bleep.

    Web Videos 
  • Used in the Smosh episode "If Cartoons Were Real". The South Park parody has Stan's mouth being washed with soap.

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: Cindy washes out her own mouth with soap after Jimmy forces her to give him a compliment.
  • Animaniacs (1993): In "Roll Over, Beethoven", Yakko, Wakko and Dot do this to Beethoven after he describes himself as a 'pianist'.
  • In the Bonkers episode "Imagine That", Bonkers D. Bobcat washes Lucky Piquel's mouth with soap after he reads aloud toon graffiti of a tree, a mailbox, and a book.
  • Pictured above, Goofy's son (no, not that one. The other one.) in the Classic Disney Short Fathers Are People.
  • Another Classic Disney Short The Practical Pig: A lie detector uses this on the Big Bad Wolf.
  • Cow and Chicken:
    • The Halloween Episode "Halloween with Dead Ghost, Coast to Coast" featured the Red Guy (masquerading as a Space Ghost pastiche) trying to use this on Chicken, albeit he initially thought he was supposed to wash Chicken's mouth out with soup until Chicken corrected him.
    • In "Bad Chicken", Chicken's paper clone mouths off the Teacher and the Teacher responds by threatening to wash his beak out with soap.
    • In "Duck, Duck, Chicken", the lawyer trying to prove Chicken is...a chicken when Cow and Chicken's family sue the Red Guy for surgically turning him into a duck shows some slideshows from Chicken's childhood. One of the slides shows Chicken as a baby with a bar of soap in his mouth, the lawyer referring to the picture as "Chicken's first word".
  • Dennis the Menace: Discussed in "The Abominable Snow Menace" when Mr. Wilson hears that Dennis will be accompanying the Wilsons on a ski trip.
    Mrs. Wilson: Isn't it just too lucky for words?
    Mr. Wilson: Well, I can think of a few words.
    Dennis: What are they, Mr. Wilson?
    Mr. Wilson: If I told you, you'd have to have your ears washed out with soap.
  • In the Missing Episode of Dexter's Laboratory, "Rude Removal", Dexter accidentally creates evil versions of himself and Dee Dee who spout swear-filled rants in front of their mom. When the regular versions trap them and feel like all's well, they spot Mom with a large bar of soap waiting to wash their mouths out.
    Dexter: Oh shit.
  • The Dick Tracy Show: Hemlock Homes uses a Lie Detector (episode of the same name) on Stooge Viller and Mumbles. When a total whopper is told, the machine uses a bar of soap and washes out the culprit's mouth with it.
  • Drawn Together has a rather weird example in the episode "Captain Girl". When Toot's horrible parenting skills are causing her Nicaraguan Baby to start acting like a teenage tramp, she (very drunkenly) grounds her, to which the baby responds by flipping her the bird. Toot replies "Watch your mouth you filthy whore! Don't make me wash my mouth with ham!" And then proceeds to do just that: wash her own mouth with a whole leg of ham.
  • Discussed in the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode, "Crime After Crime"; Mr. Herriman makes up new rules so no one will suspect his carrot addiction, one of which involves not standing on rugs. Wilt stands on a rug upon hearing this new rule, and throughout the episode, he tries to decide on how to punish himself. At one point, he suggests washing his mouth out with soap, but decides against it because if he did that, he'd be touching the soap (as Herriman had earlier punished some other imaginary friends for touching toys).
  • King of the Hill: In "That's What She Said", Hank washes out the foul mouth of a new employee with soap. It should be noted that he's still making filthy jokes right up until Hank starts scrubbin'. To be fair though, he absolutely deserved it. He spent the whole episode harassing the employees by telling dirty jokes and grabbing their bottoms to the point where they were too afraid to stand up. Even Strickland admits he didn't find his ways to be funny.
  • Magilla Gorilla was occasionally a victim of this punishment for "lying". (Cassandra Truths, actually).
  • Elmyra does this to Brain every time she thinks he is swearing (when he is actually just indulging in Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness) in Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain.
  • In Pepper Ann episode "The Way They Were", 5-year-old Pepper Ann has a bar of soap stuffed into her mouth for saying "jerk", and is to stay in the bathroom to reflect on her own actions while her mom is still pregnant with her second child, who turns out to be Margaret Rose, or "Moose".
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998) episode "Curses" had the Mayor of Townsville summon Ms. Bellum to do this to the girls when they said the swear word they learned from Professor Utonium in front of him. In addition, the girls later use this punishment on the giant potty-mouthed monster after learning that it is unacceptable for children to swear. But Buttercup still uses the word at the end, so when the girls do their normal poses during So Once Again, the Day Is Saved, she's the only one not posing, instead looking grumpy and having her mouth washed with soap.
  • In The Ren & Stimpy Show episode "I Was a Teenage Stimpy", Ren shoves the whole bar in Stimpy's mouth when he mouths off at him.
  • Rugrats (1991): In "Word of the Day", when Angelica uses a swear word, her mother asked Didi if she should use this as a solution. She then asked her if she should use toothpaste as a substitute if soap was too toxic.
  • The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries episode "Moscow Side Story" had Tweety inform Sylvester that Granny would wash his mouth out with soap after hearing the cat say "bolshoi".
  • Teen Titans (2003): Mother Mae-Eye does to Starfire after Starfire breaks her conditioning and attempts to tell the other Titans what Mother is really doing in "Mother Mae-Eye".
  • In an episode of Tom and Jerry, Jerry does this to Tom after he lies about being sick to his owner (when in reality he just didn't want to go outside on a rainy day). Not that anyone can blame Tom, mind you. The owner had also threatened Tom with that punishment.
  • The Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa episode "Another Fine Mesa" had Lilli Bovine mention that she'd like to wash out Sheriff Terrorbull's mouth with soap.
  • In Disney's The Wuzzles, Crock threatens to do this to Flizard in the first episode "Bulls of a Feather" after Flizard talks about getting work.

    Real Life 
  • The Other Wiki has an article about the topic. The practice has been around since at least the 1800s and a number of actual cases are noted in the article, with a note that it may not be advisable, due to potential health consequences.
    • It was a common punishment (along with beatings) for Native Americans speaking their indigenous languages in many a colonialist Boarding School of Horrors. Apparently, in the colonizers' Insane Troll Logic minds, Native American languages must have consisted of nothing but swear words.
  • Roald Dahl recorded witnessing an instance of this at his boarding school in his autobiographical book Boy. However, the punishment wasn't for swearing, but for snoring. The nurse got fed up with a snoring kid, and started piling soap shavings in his open mouth, until he awoke in a panic choking on the soap bubbles. Yeah, Roald Dahl did not have a pleasant school experience.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Wash Your Mouth Out With Soap


Stimpy Gets the Soap

Puberty's really done a number on this eediot.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / SoapPunishment

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