Celestial detergent and lunar washing machine: how astronauts will wash clothes in space

A U.S. company will begin an experiment to test products useful for doing laundry in space.

Have you ever wondered how astronauts do with dirty clothes when they are in space? Life on a space mission has always been of great interest, both because of the small space available and the absence of gravity. The daily life aboard a space station intrigues and excites the users of the network. Every year, astronauts are forced to throw away tons of clothes, which are then thrown into the garbage and burned in the atmosphere.

The Space Detergent Experiment

A U.S. company, Tide, has expressed interest in intervening to resolve the issue. A method for "doing laundry" in space is being considered. In collaboration with NASA, with which it has established a Space Act Agreement, the Cincinnati-based company will send a range of detergents and stain-removal products to the space station by the end of this year or early next year. The cleaning products created will be fully degradable. It is a combined wash and dry unit, which with minimal amounts of water and detergent, should be able to work on the moon or even Mars.

Products tested by astronauts

The experiment will start aboard the space station and crew members will conduct it. The company's products will be tested for stability of cleaning ingredients under microgravity conditions and exposure to radiation levels experienced in space. The first products to be tested will be Tide To Go Wipes and Tide To Go Pens, specifically designed to address odor, cleanliness and stain removal issues for washable items used during space missions.

The long-term plans

Astronauts on the space station are forced to train for two hours a day to counteract the effects of muscle and bone wasting caused by weightlessness. So they need large amounts of change during long space missions. Without a way to do laundry, the amount of clothes to carry is about 70kg. By solving this problem, the number of astronauts involved in missions could be increased. To further optimize the procedures, it is thought in the long term to be able to make the water of the laundry recoverable for drinking and cooking.

Domenico Elia Defrancesco