Space Flight

How do astronauts bathe in space?
Answered by Science Channel
  • Science Channel

    Science Channel

  1. The lack of gravity that astronauts experience in space makes everything more difficult, from eating and sleeping to working. Of course, bathing is no exception, and since astronauts live and work in tight spaces, and microgravity causes them to sweat more than usual in space, it doesn't take much for a ship to take on an odor that the astronauts would rather avoid [source: ESA]. Unfortunately, bathing while in space is not quite the luxury it is here on Earth.

    When it comes to bathing, astronauts have two choices: a shower or a sponge bath. A sponge bath is a simple two-step process, using one wet, soapy washcloth to clean and then a second wet washcloth to rinse off. While this doesn't sound like the best option, it's usually preferable to using the shower facilities simply because it's easier. On a spacecraft, a shower is a plastic cylinder, measuring about three feet (one meter) around, which is encased in another cylinder that runs from the floor to the ceiling so water doesn't escape and float around the cabin. Astronauts use a nozzle to spray on water and wash, and then use a vacuum hose to suck up all the water from their bodies and from within the shower cylinder [source: Pandian].

    To keep their hair clean, astronauts may use a special rinseless shampoo, which is also used in hospitals for patients who can't shower [source: NASA]. Of course, astronauts keep up with other personal hygiene while onboard, as well, from shaving to brushing their teeth. Each astronaut has a personal hygiene kit containing everything he or she will need while in space.

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