19 thoughts on “No One Will Do Your Laundry”

  1. Shorts and T-shirts. What more do ya need? The shorts have disposable / washable diaper inserts. OTOH, if the girls are all busty, aluminum foil suits with straight shoulders and green hair of course.

  2. Some of us don’t do laundry down here so it wouldn’t be a big deal. Not just lazy college kids, google natural denim.

    And the first comment nails it (at least from a smell perspective) and freezing is something natural denim people do to their jeans so they don’t have to wash them.

    How clothing will be cleaned and manufactured in space is something to think about.

  3. Idea: Paper clothing, something like hospital scrubs. Soft, natural, recyclable, can be colored, cut or tailored to fit, can be made soft and absorbent (underwear) or tough and impermeable (jumpsuits, etc.). raw material literally grows on trees (bamboo would be ideal), can be used as biomass after disposal.

    Spacesuits, of course, will necessarily be different: something like form-hugging spider silk or similarly tough sheer material to provide positive pressure, with an armored but unpressurized tunic or overall to protect bones and organs from primary cosmic radiation. If a way could be found to make same recyclable, crews could wear their “pressure” suits as duty uniform, as shown here.

  4. I remember reading an article some years ago about research into washing machines for use in microgravity which didn’t have to rotate and used minimal water; possibly for ISS? I guess it didn’t work out.

    1. Why clothes at all? I can understand needing a comfortable barrier between and EVA suit and the skin, but there isn’t much in the way of weather inside a station/ship that we’d need clothing to protect us from. I can understand downstairs undergarments from an air filtration standpoint of course, but other clothing seems excessive (at least functionally) if you already have full control of the environment’s temperature and humidity.

      I’d say the strongest driver for an everyday wear clothing requirement is shame (prudishness).

      1. Because clothes allow ambient temperature to be 20 deg F lower. 65 vice 85 has significant benefits wrt health, mold & bacteria growth, etc.

  5. People have different temperature comfort zones dependent on culture, body mass and activity level. It is much easier and less stressful to add or remove clothing layers rather than fighting over the thermostat. Also when something goes wrong (apollo 13 CM freezing for ex) , the resources to improvise are available.

  6. A washing machine shouldn’t be that difficult if some imagination is used. A small centrifugal module with several small machines on its’ perimeter so that each small machine operates in a gee field during operation. Or a return to the wringer washing machines of yesteryear with some automation built in. Or a semi sealed tunnel with a mesh conveyor carrying the clothes past multiple pressure cleaner type nozzles. Or….

    Throwing clothes away at $20k per delivered kilo seems a bit wasteful even if it is just tees and shorts.

    1. A washing machine that works in zero G shouldn’t be difficult. One that doesn’t vibrate like crazy, ruining the microgravity environment of the station, is harder.

      One idea I’ve heard, not to my knowledge evaluated by NASA, uses supercritical CO2 to dryclean the clothes.

      1. Peterh,

        Probably would make a good project for a prize. The winning machine is then shipped up to the ISS for actual use ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Again this goes to show why NASA is not suited to be the lead agency for space settlement. I doubt they even bothered thinking about laundry on the ISS.

    As for the technology, a small ultrasonic laundry machine like this would work well in space.


    Pinoy students develop ultrasonic washing machine
    Shaira F. Panela, GMA NewsApril 21, 2012 7:18pm

    Once again the “green” research being done by environmentalists is proving far more valuable in advancing the technology for space settlements than anything that space advocates have been doing…

    1. Actaully, NASA did some work back in the 1980s on laundry in space. I remember reading in Aviation Week (around 1983-84 timeframe) about a study that showed they’d need 5 gallons of water a day per astronaut to do laundry. IIRC, they anticipated launching a Shuttle mission every 90 days or so just to carry a load of water to the space station. I knew then that the space station project was doomed. They were applying earthbound thinking to a space problem.

  8. Bamboo: an aggressive, fast-growing plant that can be used as the centerpiece of a closed-loop life support system. It eats CO2 and waste water, emits oxygen and edibles (shoots), and can be easily processed into paper, fabric, and plastics for writing, clothing, tools, etc., all recyclable. You could even use it (as wood and plastic) as material with which to build the ship itself: a lightweight frame of lunar-grown bamboo (tall!) could serve as a framework for an ion-powered bamboo-plastic spacecraft.

  9. B Lewis – I agree with you to some extent about bamboo. Two things; Far Eastern countries often use bamboo scaffolding, and the bit about fabrics certainly holds. I happen to have a bamboo-fibre towel at home, given as a gift from a supplement manufacturer. It really is quite nice and fluffy. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Um, the outside environment is a vaccum. Use that. Stick the clothing outdoors for half an hour, voila, no volatile organics so no stink, no moisture, most bacteria killed. Stick it on the sunny side for near-sterilization, though the fabric would degrade sooner. Wouldn’t take out stains, or that nasty ring-around-the-collar, but clothing would smell fresh and be hygenic.

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