A Day in the Life Aboard the International Space Station

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Cartoon of the International Space StationSpeak with astronauts in orbit.
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Morning Routine in Space

Cartoon man wears towel and shower cap as he scrubs his back with a brushCleaning yourself in space can be difficult. Image Credit: Fred Sayers

Astronauts living and working in space have the same hygiene needs as people on Earth. They wash their hair, brush their teeth, shave and go to the bathroom. However, because of the microgravity environment, astronauts take care of themselves in some different ways.

Astronauts wash their hair with a rinseless shampoo that was originally developed for hospital patients who were unable to take a shower.

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Many astronauts have a personal hygiene kit that is attached to the wall. The kit contains the personal hygiene items each astronaut has chosen to take. Personal preferences, such as the brand of toothpaste, are accommodated if possible. Dental hygiene is basically the same as on Earth.

Because of microgravity, the space station toilet is more complex than what people use on Earth. The astronauts have to position themselves on the toilet seat, using leg restraints and thigh-bars. The toilet basically works like a vacuum cleaner with fans that suck air and waste into the commode. Each astronaut has a personal urinal funnel, which has to be attached to the hose's adapter. Fans suck air and urine through the funnel and hose into the wastewater tank.

Additional Resources

Image of water dropletSwapping Sweat for Water
NASA tests a life support system that could provide drinking water to people living on the moon or Mars.

An astronaut on the ISS with a plastic bag in his handDoing Laundry in Space →
Expedition Six Commander Ken Bowersox demonstrates how he cleans his dirty clothes inside the International Space Station.

View of surface tension demonstration using water that is being held in place by a metal loopThe Clean Water Diaries
A test volunteer learns about Space Living 101.

Astronaut brushes teeth while in spaceLiving in Space
What is it like to live in space?

Page Last Updated: October 16th, 2014
Page Editor: Sandra May