Hygiene is generally a high-tech thing on the International Space Station. Instead of showers, astronauts aboard the ISS take improvised sponge baths in specialized portals, washing their hair with rinseless shampoo. Bathroom needs are, similarly, highly specialized — involving a combination of funnels, Velcro, and vacuums.
And one of the very big challenges of astronauts in terms of hygiene is brushing their teeth as we all know that all things might float. So how does astronaut brush their teeth on space?
Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield himself, explains how astronauts maintains oral hygiene aboard the International Space Station. The very big question is where are they going to spit afterwards and how will they will clean the tooth brush?
According to the Canadian Space Agency, astronauts use the same toothpaste as on Earth and can even select their preferred brand. And that’s because the toothbrushing challenge isn’t so much about the tools as the conditions: Space-based brushers have to keep their Crest or Colgate or what have you on their brushes, and in their mouths, in an environment where neither water nor gravity is particularly plentiful.
More so, NASA says that many astronauts, keep their personal hygiene kits — toothbrushes and toothpaste stored inside it — anchored to a wall in their particular vehicle. And the toothpaste itself might be stored in a specialized tube, one with its top attached, thus mitigating the need to keep tiny little toothpaste caps from floating away during the toothbrushing process.
That’s pretty much the only thing that keeps space-based brushing simple, though. When you’re battling gravity, even the most basic task can be intricate. As Mr. Hadfield explains the whole brushing procedure:
1. Start by filling a drink bag with water and bring it with you to the hygiene area. Tuck it behind a rubber bungee. Remove your hygiene kit from behind its bungee and unzip it. Find your toothbrush inside of your hygiene kit, safely tucked away inside of a fabric pouch with a Velcro top. But first, take out your toothpaste tube, and stick it to the wall, using the Velcro dot on it. Secure your hygiene kit behind a rubber bungee, after partially zipping it up, so that things don’t accidentally float out.
2. Still have your toothbrush between a couple of your fingers? Hopefully yes. Remove your drink bag, and with one thumb, flip open the straw clamp (which keeps liquid from seeping out of the bag), and gently squeeze out a bead of water onto your toothbrush, watch it get sucked into the bristles. Hold the straw of the drink bag in your teeth, and with one hand, fix the straw clamp in place, and replace the bag behind the bungee.
3. Almost all of the rest is fairly straightforward. Flip open the cap of the toothpaste tube, squeeze some out on your toothbrush, go to work on your teeth.
Ok, you’re done. Now what? Where are you going to spit? There’s no sink. So — into a tissue? Then you’ve got a wet tissue, and what are you going to do with that?? So, he swallowed it. Filled his mouth with water and swallowed again. Drew some water onto the toothbrush and sucked the water out. Dried the toothbrush onto a towel and replaced it, and the toothpaste, into the kit.
As an after thought, despite all the extra steps involved, you’re still, brushing your teeth in space. Better watch the videos below for better understanding and funnier view.