La casa del jabonero es toda un resbaladero
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"La casa del jabonero es toda un resbaladero" (The house of the soap-maker is a slippery place)

It is not a well-known saying, but it has its charms. Someone who reads it for the first time might think that it is similar to “en casa del herrero, curchillo de palo” (roughly equivalent to “the shoemaker’s children always go barefoot”); but actually it means something quite different: If we are in a position or situation in which something bad can happen, the worst thing will inevitably occur. It reminds us of Murphy’s Law, which states that “if something can go wrong, it will go wrong”.

But why use the figure of a soap-maker? We do not know for sure: maybe because the house of a soap-maker, due to the owner’s profession, has  slippery floors; or it might be because of the Spanish expression “dar un jabón” (to give soap) which means “reprender o castigar” (to scold or punish), which means getting into trouble, which is the meaning of the saying.

Finally, and entering into the territory of folklore and legend, we should mention the myth that soap-makers used to use the fat of poor people to make their best products. This is to say, if you already had problems being poor, venturing into the home of a soap-maker could be fatal. But as we said, this is only a myth.

It’s interesting to investigate the theories surrounding an expression, isn’t it?

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