Astronauts don’t have the luxury of tossing clothes in the hamper after a single use — without laundry equipment, they’re often left wearing items multiple times. Tide thinks it can come to the rescue, though. The Procter & Gamble brand has teamed with NASA to develop the first laundry detergent meant for space. The fully degradable detergent should take care of stains and odors while working properly in a closed-loop water system like the one you’d find aboard the International Space Station.
It won’t take long before you see a rea world (or rather, real off-world) trial run. NASA will test Tide’s detergent aboard the ISS in 2022. “Mission PGTide,” as it’s called, will gauge ingredient stability in space as well as the effectiveness of the stain removal ingredients using Tide’s pens and wipes.
Other studies will explore the possibility of a washer-dryer combo that could be use for long-term Moon and Mars missions.
The advantages for space are fairly self-evident. Those lunar and martian explorers won’t have any choice but to clean their clothes — this detergent could make that possible without subtracting from their precious water supply. It could also save weight and space aboard both the ISS and cargo capsules, as NASA wouldn’t need to send so many clothes into orbit.
This could also be helpful for laundry back on Earth, for that matter. A fully degradable detergent would be more environmentally friendly, reducing waste and conserving water. Don’t be surprised if you eventually buy detergent that’s kind to the planet precisely because it’s designed to be used off-planet.
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