Tide is going to space next year — specifically, the International Space Station — under a Space Act Agreement announced today with NASA to help develop laundry detergent solutions.
Star Trek envisioned sonic showers but never showed the laundry room. The fact is, laundry isn’t easy in space. Currently, astronauts on the ISS wear clothes several times to lighten the load on what’s essentially a space valet wash-and-fold resupply service that delivers 160 pounds of laundry annually per person, according to Tide’s manufacturer Procter & Gamble Co.
Limited cargo capacity makes replenishing clothing supply even more challenging for deep-space missions such as the planned Artemis Moon missions or a possible crewed round trip to Mars.
Ingredient safety, compatibility with life-support systems and limited water available per load are key challenges for space laundry, according to P&G. Wash water, for example, has to be purified back to drinking quality. P&G announced that Tide has developed a fully degradable detergent “to solve malodor cleanliness and stain removal” while being suitable for closed-loop water systems.
On a 2022 cargo launch to the space station, Mission PGTide (for P&G Telescience Investigation of Detergent Experiments) will test its laundry formulation under low-gravity and radiation levels experienced in space. Tide To Go Wipes and Tide To Go Pens — two items already sold on Earth — will also be tested for stain removal.
“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 VP-P&G North America Fabric Care, in a statement. “We are eager to apply our learnings from our partnerships with NASA and the ISS National Lab to Tide on Earth” to meet demand for more sustainable products.
The collaboration, Orlik said, “allows us to push the bounds of resource efficiency to its absolute limit.”