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NASA and Tide to Wash Clothes in Space

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Maybe now we can get those cosmic ray stains out.

When you’re living in a space station, you have to be much more aware of how you utilize your resources. The amount of water that’s usually consumed when running a washing machine here on Earth, for example, would be an unthinkable waste up on the International Space Station. This is why the astronauts living aboard the ISS don’t do laundry; they just wear their clothes until they become obviously dirty and dispose of them. It’s kind of wasteful, not to mention kind of gross if you’re wearing the same pair of undies for days on end. This is why Procter & Gamble, parent company of laundry detergent brand Tide, is looking to do some laundry in space.

“Tide has signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA to help in the development of laundry detergent solutions and technology development in space,” P&G said in a statement on Tuesday. “Under the agreement, NASA may test and study Tide cleaning solutions in space.”

P&G has commissioned multiple experiments with Tide’s various chemical-based cleaners aboard the ISS. These experiments will test the viability of the cleaning solutions while taking important factors like the lack of surplus water and the safety of the ingredients in an enclosed space. Additionally, P&G is drawing up plans for a special space washer/dryer designed to be used in similar closed systems, though this device would be intended for use on a moon colony.

“Tide has developed 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 close-loop water system,” said P&G.

If these experiments yield fruit, not only can astronauts be spared from the unhygienic horror of underwear reversal, it could also prove beneficial for countries lacking in water infrastructure down here on Earth.