Tide develops 1st detergent for astronauts in space, NASA

Tide is making one giant leap for space — developing a laundry detergent solution for NASA astronauts onboard the International Space Station.

Under a Space Act Agreement between NASA and Tide’s parent company Proctor & Gamble, the space agency will test and study Tide cleaning solutions in space.

According to a press release published Tuesday, astronauts on the ISS currently wear clothing several times before replacing it with a new set, and clothing is delivered to the station through resupply shipment opportunities. 

In fact, without a laundry solution, 160 pounds of clothing per crew member per year are launched to ISS, according to the company.

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"This partnership was created to rethink cleaning solutions – forcing us to rethink innovations for resource-constrained and challenging environments like the ISS, deep space and even the future of our home planet," said Aga Orlik, Senior Vice President, P&G North America Fabric Care. "We are eager to apply our learnings from our partnerships with NASA and the ISS National Lab to Tide on Earth, developing a low-resource-use laundry solution for everyday use while meeting consumer demand for more sustainable products."

This development of off-Earth laundering is expected to come with challenges including safety, the limited amount of water available per wash load and the requirement that the wash water is purified back to drinking-quality water. 

"To combat these challenges, Tide has developed a fully degradable detergent, specifically designed for use in space to solve malodor, cleanliness and stain removal problems for washable items used during deep space missions, while being suitable for use in a close-loop water system," the company wrote.

In addition to testing onboard ISS, NASA and Tide researchers may study how a combined washing and drying unit utilizing the special-formulated detergent could potentially be integrated into planetary habitats that may be used for the Artemis Moon and Mars missions under low-gravity surface conditions.

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"The collaboration with NASA and the ISS National Lab are particularly exciting because it allows us to push the bounds of resource efficiency to its absolute limit, uncovering learnings with practical applications for both the future of laundry in space and here on Earth," Orlik continued.

This news comes after Tide announced in March a series of goals to decrease its carbon footprint across its full value chain. Commitments included goals to find resource efficiencies in energy, water and waste across the laundry lifecycle to reduce the environmental impact of a load of laundry.

"The study could have potential on-planet implications like innovative solutions for resource and environmental challenges on Earth. Aligning with Tide’s decade-long sustainability commitment, Ambition 2030, Tide will strive to bring off-planet learnings back to everyday consumer products," Tide wrote.