Here on earth, simple activities such as brushing our teeth, and washing our hair, are second nature. We do them without even thinking, they can take us a couple of minutes and we are done. They may be easy for us, but have you ever wondered how Astronauts do these simple day to day tasks? Well here is your answer. With difficulty! Gravity is something we truly take for granted, and without it? Well, it makes life a whole lot harder.
Brushing Your Teeth
Brushing your teeth is a simple task that we do every morning and night, but in space it is something completely different. While the toothbrushes may look the same, brushing your teeth is a lot harder without a sink to spit in, and the chance of your toothpaste floating away from you. Every astronaut sprinkles one drop of water on their toothbrush and then proceeds to brush their teeth with their mouth closed. That’s right, no looking in the mirror to get the right angle, you have to keep your lips firmly shut around the toothbrush, and pray that none of it escapes. What do you do when you’re finished you ask? Well, without a sink, you have to go against every toothpaste tube’s advice and swallow it all. Minty fresh, even thousands of miles above us.
Clipping your toenails and fingernails is something that nobody wants to watch unless you are getting a manicure, however in space, it can become a much bigger problem. The air in spaceships is circulated to allow everyone aboard to breathe, which means anything that drops into the zero gravity air, then proceeds to float around until it is hoovered up. That’s right, toenails, once clipped in space then float around your friends. Floating nail shrapnel can then be breathed in, or can get into your eyes which is not only a disgusting thought, but very dangerous. So when an astronaut wants to clip away, he has to climb into a vent that sucks the air out of the ship, to cut his nails without the risk of hurting his friends.
Shaving is annoying enough to do on a regular occurrence with gravity, however in space it is a risky move. Just like clipping your nails, hair that is removed from the body will then circulate around the ships, not only damaging equipment, but finding it’s way into lungs of the other passengers. To prevent this, razors have been invented that suck up the hair as it cuts. Although it looks like a hoover attached to the razor, it prevents any damage, and allows the hair to be taken away safely. Not just that, but if you cut yourself whilst shaving, the cut will refuse to heal for weeks, due to the lack of healing in space.
When you wash your hair in space, it is very similar to the products used in hospitals. A leave-in shampoo is used that does not require water, which by the way, will stick to humans instead of dropping off like on earth. The water that is used to clean your hair, or face, will then be condensed, and reused as drinking water for on the ship! That sounds delicious.
Although everything seems like it is very complicated, the processes of cleaning in space have come a long way since its first voyage. It may seem exciting, however, we are more than happy to stay where the gravity is. Not only is it a lot easier, but you don’t need to risk choking on somebody’s toenail either.