back to article NASA wants space washing machine for ISS, Mars bases

NASA have moved at last to tackle the problem of dirty astronauts by commissioning a microwave with air-jets to clean underwear in space. There are no washing machines on the International Space Station so grime-encrusted nauts will wear underwear for 3-4 days and other items of clothing for months, before disposing of the …


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  1. It wasnt me

    As usual

    Nasa are late to the party.

    I already microwave my pants.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I thought you were going to say that you already grow plants in your knickers.

      Carry on then...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Easy fix?

    Fly naked?

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      @Easy fix

      Too costly. This idea has already been patented by RyanAir

    2. proto-robbie

      You'd think with all that training

      that astronauts could "go commando".

    3. Fatman

      RE: Easy fix?

      That would be great if I was the only male amongst the crew.

      OH, those `heavenly sights`!

    4. annodomini2

      Then sell the rights to say Playboy?

  3. Thomas 18
    Thumb Up

    If it washes, dries and doesn't need extensive plumbing count me in

    I'll buy one, what are we talking here £100 or £200? I'd be willing to go up to £250 if it comes with a tiny model astronaut.

  4. Annihilator

    In my head

    Just imagined a washing line hanging outside the ISS with a man in a spacesuit hanging up his nice clean undies. Made me chortle to myself anyway

    1. Mike Flugennock

      Clothesline outside? One problem...

      ...with the clothesline outside, perhaps strung up on the truss: the sunward-facing side of your laundry would be perfectly nice and dry, while the side facing into shadow would be frozen solid.

      1. Chemist

        "with the clothesline outside"

        Just use a rotary drier.

        ( When it's not being used it could make the craft look more like a 'real' spaceship which everyone knows bristles with that kind of antenna)

  5. sandman


    For some reason I now can't get the song "The Intergalactic Laxative" out of my head.

  6. Tim #3

    Presumably the ISS will need a permanent female presence to operate this too.

    1. Armando 123

      I don't know what world you live in, but here in Middle America, the lads do their own cooking and cleaning and laundry. If you don't, you'll never attract a woman, because they eat out, hire maids, and take clothes to the cleaners. (No wonder single men are more likely to afford a house downpayment sooner.)

      True story: a while back, the elder lad came home from school and told my wife that he needed to bring in baked goods to school the next day. (He wasn't slacking to let us know, the unfireable teacher did that.) She nodded towards me and said "Ask your step-father." So the lad and I made them. When he complained, I told him "The way to a woman's heart is through your wallet. We're not wealthy, so your best shot at a girlfriend is food."

      Two years on, he's in junior high and boy, does he remember that lesson now.

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        I'm afraid you need to get your sarcasm detector looked at mate ;)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    other use

    Nasa, ships and mobile homes!

    Price it cheap enough, and the snail shell shod masses will be buying them for their mobile houses on wheels, so they don't have to slum it in the communal laundry area of the campsite du jour...

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Caravan washine machines

      There are already a few out there.

      Some resemble a bucket!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Tim #3

    Only if they need them ironing afterwards :-D

  9. Stevie


    Kryten and astrophysics show us the path to clean underwear:

    Thirty minutes dangled outside in the harsh, radioactive environment of space to kill biologicals followed by a good thumping with the smeg-hammer.

    Total cost, about 15 dollars for the hammer.

    Stupid NASA "scientists".

  10. Richard 31
    Paris Hilton

    Dry cleaning?

    I am wondering a dry cleaning mechanism might work.

    Dry cleaning machines are a closed cycle, and never run hotter than 30c anyway. All the solvent is recovered. Could use the vacuum of space for the evaporation phase.

  11. Craig Vaughton
    Thumb Up

    3-4 Days?

    Smeg, Kryten knows if you turn pants inside out and they'll last at least 2 months.

  12. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    So they'll get their undies washed in recycled pee? lovely :(

    Just use scotsmen, I'll bet a kilt doesn't need washing as often, and the underwear problem just won't exist.

    1. Armando 123

      "So they'll get their undies washed in recycled pee? lovely"

      Sounds like the laundry service I used once in Alabama ...

  13. wheel

    Also used on ships?

    Is there a shortage of water on ships? If so, might I suggest that the crew aren't looking hard enough?

    1. Sean Baggaley 1

      Sea water? Really?

      You might want to look up the meaning of "corrosion".

    2. John G Imrie

      Water water every ware ...

      but not a drop to drink.

      I suggest you try wearing salt encrusted under ware for a week or two.

  14. Penguin herder
    Thumb Up

    Vacuum to the rescue?

    Those of you suggesting that they just "hang them outside" might really be on to something. The vacuum should desiccate and disperse quite a bit of undesirable material. A little pre-treatment with some type of catalytic agent might do the rest; that would need to squeezed/spun out of the clothes before "airing the dirty laundry," and would ideally be reusable.

    Down-to-earth dry cleaning is interesting, but I suspect would not get off the ground due to the risk of the chemicals' leaking into the confined crew compartment.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "nauts will wear underwear for 3-4 days"

    You say that like it was unusual.

    They have a similar problem on submarines. They just stuff the lot into a tube and fire it out when it gets too unbearable and they are heading home.

    But, seriously -- jcloth style paper kecks -- then out the airlock. Solved.

    1. Steven Roper

      NOT solved

      It might be you on a Virgin Galactic flight in 5 years time when your lovely view of Earth from LEO is rudely interrupted by a pair of shit-stained jcloth style paper kecks smashing through your window and then your skull at 20,000 km/h. It's exactly that kind of "out the airlock" mentality that's starting to make orbiting this planet an exercise in rocket dodgems...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        True, it adds to the orbital detritus

        But you are just as likely to be hit (if you are going to be hit) by a lump of naturally occurring primordial iron.

        Virgin Galactic won't be happening in five years time. In five years time no one will be prepared to take the insurance risk of the whole venture. You'd better believe that.

  16. All names Taken

    Just get used to the crustiness - don't dehydrate tho otherwise a raspy annulled anus might result?

    ps: it is the spellchecker

  17. Herby

    On three to four days...

    My brother in law says:

    Inside, outside, frontside, backside. Sounds about right.

  18. Black Betty

    Hand operated tumble washer.

    Any decent camping supplier can provide.

    Same principle:- a screw top bucket left to roll about in the boot of the car also works marvelously.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bonus for poo incinerator output as washing machine input

    Poo incinerator output goal is CO2 + water. Below is an excerpt from Wikipedia on the uses of Carbon Dioxide...

    "Liquid carbon dioxide is a good solvent for many lipophilic organic compounds and is used to remove caffeine from coffee. Carbon dioxide has attracted attention in the pharmaceutical and other chemical processing industries as a less toxic alternative to more traditional solvents such as organochlorides. It is used by some dry cleaners for this reason. (See green chemistry.)"

  20. Keep Refrigerated

    Not toxic, just highly unstable...

    Presumably the most cost effective method would be some kind of groinal attachment for dealing with the curry stains.

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