Dirty Underwear in Space? Free Fire Zone

There’s no creationism news today — which is very good news! — so to keep you entertained we’ll give you some news that is certain to ruin your childhood dreams of being an astronaut. We found it at PhysOrg and it’s titled: Dirty laundry in space? NASA, Tide tackle cleaning challenge. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

How do astronauts do laundry in space? They don’t. [Huh?] They wear their underwear, gym clothes and everything else until they can’t take the filth and stink anymore, then junk them.

Disgusting, huh? Then they say:

NASA wants to change that — if not at the International Space Station, then the moon and Mars — and stop throwing away tons of dirty clothes every year, stuffing them in the trash to burn up in the atmosphere aboard discarded cargo ships. So it’s teamed up with Procter & Gamble Co. to figure out how best to clean astronauts’ clothes in space so they can be reused for months or even years, just like on Earth.

Your Curmudgeon absolutely approves of that project. The PhysOrg article then tells us:

The Cincinnati company announced Tuesday that it will send a pair of Tide detergent and stain removal experiments to the space station later this year and next, all part of the galactic battle against soiled and sweaty clothes.

A worthy project indeed! PhysOrg continues:

It’s no small problem, especially as the U.S. and other countries look to establish bases on the moon and Mars. … When you figure an astronaut needs 150 pounds (68 kilograms) of clothes in space per year, that quickly adds up, especially on a three-year Mars mission, said Mark Sivik, a chemist specializing in fabric and home care technology for P&G.

Let’s read on:

There’s also the health — and ick — factors. [Hee hee!] Space station astronauts exercise two hours every day to counter the muscle- and bone-withering effects of weightlessness, quickly leaving their workout clothes sweaty, smelly and stiff. Their T-shirts, shorts and socks end up so foul that they run through a pair every week, according to Leland Melvin, a former NASA astronaut and NFL player.

Skipping several paragraphs, we gratefully arrive at the end:

One of the many design challenges: The laundry water would need to be reclaimed for drinking and cooking, just like urine and sweat are currently recycled aboard the space station. [Aaaargh!!] “The best solutions come from the most diverse teams,” Melvin said, “and how more diverse can you be than Tide and NASA?”

Now that you’re in the mood, we’re declaring another Intellectual Free Fire Zone. Please use the comments for the discussion of pretty much anything — science, politics, economics, whatever — as long as it’s tasteful and interesting. Banter, babble, bicker, bluster, blubber, blather, blab, blurt, burble, boast — say what you will. But avoid flame-wars and beware of the profanity filters.

We now throw open the comments to you, dear reader. Have at it!

Copyright © 2021. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

6 responses to “Dirty Underwear in Space? Free Fire Zone

  1. Gail Cooper

    Only you could wright a blog about this! Perhaps when the problem is solved you could try it out on your own unwashed underwear! Oh Yuck!


  2. Is clothing actually necessary on board the International Space Station?

    NASA should only recruit dedicated nudists as astronauts. Problem solved!

  3. How is this handled in a submarine?
    It is surprising that only now is any thought being given to it, after all of these years.

  4. In a submarine you have plenty of water available.

  5. Since Our Curmudgeon seems obsessed with the subject:

    “So there are 100 Earth-like planets for every grain of sand in the world. Think about that next time you’re on the beach.” *


    *Alternatively, you could think about the bleak post-apocalyptic dystopia depicted in Nevil Shute’s On the Beach