Keeping Space Clothing Clean In Space

Wearing clothes to work or school and then throwing our clothes into the laundry is routine on Earth.  For most of us, changing clothes and washing clothes goes without notice.  In space, however, astronauts deal with different restrictions and regulations regarding their space clothing.

Astronauts do not get to wash their clothing every day.  To the contrary astronauts do not wash clothing in space at all.  In fact, once an astronaut wears his or her clothing as many times as possible, which is dictated by NASA usually, the clothing is bundled up and undocks from the space station.  The clothing burns in space when the friction in the air causes it to set on fire.

Astronauts get a certain number of shirts, pants, socks and shoes to wear aboard a space station.  They do not change clothes every day.  They can change clothes for exercising but they do not wash their clothes.  Often, astronauts will wear the same shirt and pants for up to ten days.

Although astronauts are able to bathe every day, if they choose to bathe after exercising, for example, then they may have to return to wearing the same pants and shirt they wore earlier in the day or the previous day.  Astronauts do not wash their clothing aboard the space station due to limited resources.  However, they do not leave the space station every day so their space cadet clothing does not become dirty like our clothing does on Earth.  For us earthlings, we wear our clothing everywhere all day, in our cars, to work and school, on the street, in rain, cold, and on public transportation, all of which can make our clothing very dirty.  Fortunately, astronauts are able to stay aboard the space station many days so their clothing does not become as dirty as quickly as ours does.

While it may seem strange to those of us who do not travel in space, astronauts become accustomed to the idea of not washing their clothes; they have to.  After all, that is a small price to pay for having the opportunity to travel into space!  Astronauts make many sacrifices to travel into space.  In fact, they pick out their clothing well in advance of the launch and are given a certain amount of shirts, pants, and even shoes!  Now, they are also given shoes specifically for exercising because many space stations have a treadmill.