(Bloomberg) -- Tide, the detergent used by millions across the U.S., wants to make lunar laundromats a thing.
Parent company Procter & Gamble Co. is working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on a formula that can withstand conditions off-planet so astronauts can do laundry while on missions. The first shipment made its way to the International Space Station on a SpaceX rocket on Dec. 21, and its performance is undergoing tests.
Astronauts wear clothes several times, replacing them with new apparel delivered on resupply missions. But spacecraft have limited cargo capacity, and replenishment dispatches aren’t possible on longer trips to far-flung locales such as the moon or one day, Mars. That makes laundry one of many questions for scientists to answer as demand for space travel heats up.
“There’s no effective laundry solution that exists in space,” said Marc Pritchard, P&G’s chief brand officer, at the CES trade show on Wednesday.
Mundane on Earth, washing clothes faces several hurdles in space. One is that each load relies on a small amount of water, which then needs to be purified back into something astronauts can drink. P&G developed a fully degradable Tide detergent that aims to meet this challenge, and the company hopes the experience will inform the development of more sustainable cleaning products back home.
“This innovation will not only advance cleaning solutions in space but for resource-constrained environments, like water-scarce areas on Earth,” Pritchard said.
For smaller stains that befall astronauts, P&G is also testing Tide To Go Pens and Tide To Go Wipes in a micro-gravity environment.
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