I'm not a teacher ***
I guess you can say it does have something to do with washing and cleaning. Take a look here:
Soap opera - wiki - etymology
I've been away for a while, but now I get back with a simple (or silly) question: Why are "soap operas" called "Soap operas"? Has it anything to do with TV programmes for housewifes who wash and clean, etc???!!
Thanks for answering
Of course they are commonly referred to now as "soaps" or "soapies".
Thanks a lot nyota. I've looked up on the site you suggested and I am now totally satisfied with the explanation!