How Do Astronauts Keep Their Living Quarters Clean?


Quick Answer

According to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, astronauts on the International Space Station use vacuum cleaners, antibacterial wipes and liquid detergent to keep their living quarters clean. Because crumbs and other debris can cause major problems in zero gravity, astronauts build time into their schedules to keep the space station as tidy as possible.

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Full Answer

The lack of gravity on the space station actually aids in the cleaning process. Instead of collecting on surfaces, dust and debris tend to float toward the nearest air intake vent. Filters on these vents keep the particles in place, and astronauts regularly change them as part of the cleaning process. In addition, small items like screws or nuts are carried along by the air currents as well, making these filters a catch-all spot for small items on the ISS.

Another important part of keeping things tidy is organization. Astronauts keep their gear organized and stowed when not in use, preventing clutter and misplaced items. Velcro strips allow them to park items on almost any surface in the ISS, and storage cabinets can exist behind panels in the floors, ceilings and walls.

When astronauts need to dispose of trash, they simply stow it in the automated supply ships that regularly visit the ISS, allowing their refuse to burn up upon re-entry with the rest of the vehicle.

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