In space, there is no gravity and limited water. That rules out conventional sinks, showers and washing machines. And of course, nothing goes to waste, including the astronauts’ pee (urine?), which is recycled back into water.
As they say on the ISS, “Today’s coffee is tomorrow’s coffee.” … Yum.
Oxygen on the station is also limited, so astronauts basically breathe in the same roomful of air between resupply runs. Consider that they work out two to three hours per day without quality showers and all live together in a cramped module sealed off from the vacuum of space, and the ISS begins to look less like a marvelous space station and more like a sweaty, celestial locker room full of jocks who haven’t changed out of their uniforms in a week..
Though astronauts can’t have that nice long, hot shower, they can, and do, wash themselves with a wet towel and waterless shampoo. Clothing is a different story. With little room for luggage and no way to wash them, astronauts wear the same clothes for several days at a time before replacing them.
Turns out, Tide is on the case. This year, it is partnering with NASA to develop a “fully degradable detergent, specifically designed for use in space to solve malodor, cleanliness and stain removal problems for washable items used during deep space missions, while being suitable for use in a closed-loop water system.”
My only question is: where are the stains coming from? Let’s just hope it has nothing to do with the toilets. When one malfunctioned on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule last November, the astronauts had to wear diapers the whole way home. Apparently, this problem goes back to the beginning, when NASA gave Alan Shepard, the first American to reach space, permission to wet his spacesuit.
But I digress. Alongside an all-in-one washer and dryer unit, “Tide’s stain removal ingredients will be tested onboard the ISS through experiments with Tide To Go Wipes and Tide To Go Pens”.
Now, we can take Tide to go on Earth and in space.