Astronaut Sam explains ISS hygiene

May 11, 2015 • 1:30 pm

Here are two videos from our Official Website Astronaut™, Samantha Cristoforetti, explaining how inhabitants of the International Space Station keep themselves clean and do their business (I love the “#1/#2” distinction)! I didn’t realize that urine was recycled into potable water, but it makes sense.

I’ve just learned that Astro Sam is coming back to Earth this week, which is horrible, as I, at least, will miss her exploits, humor and informative videos. And I guess you get only one stint on the ISS. Do we need to appoint another Official Website Astronaut™?

Her first video explains washing up:

The second is about elimination:

h/t: Brian, Jon

21 thoughts on “Astronaut Sam explains ISS hygiene

  1. Oh, she’s coming home soon… yes, I will certainly miss all of the hard work she does to virtually bring the space station to us! I’ve been following her on Flickr for a while where she’s posted many photographs of her training and then from the ISS. She’s a prolific astronaut photographer!

  2. > And I guess you get only one stint on the shuttle.

    I’m thinking you meant “on the ISS”, but even that’s not true. Multiple people have done multiple tours.

    1. Yeah, that surprised me, and I don’t see any TP either.

      If they do have it, I wonder if it’s under, over, or other??

  3. Fascinating, I was hoping she was going to cover how they wash their hair, and sure enough she did (near the end of video 1)!

    1. This isn’t the first time we have been treated to a hair washing demonstration: Expedition 36 Flight Engineer Karen Nyberg shows how you wash and rinse your hair in space

      BTW, I nominate Dr. Nyberg to the Official Website Astronaut™ Hall of Fame.

  4. This was fascinating. It makes one realize that every little thing in 0 gravity is a bit more complicated.

    As for the toilet paper question, if you go to the 10 sec. mark of the video you can see that toilet paper is a feature of the system which was designed by the ‘Portable Outhouse Team’. The ‘over’ vs ‘under’ orientation of the toilet paper seems deliberately ambiguous, though, and so it must be Top Secret.

    1. I figured the orientation must be Top Secret. Maybe they alternate weekly to keep the astronauts from bickering…

  5. For a somewhat different water-related experience, also involving an Italian astronaut, see

    Whether it’s planning for emergencies or planning for dealing with the minutiae of day to day life on the ISS, the whole thing is an extraordinary testament to the skill, courage, rigour and ingenuity of the engineers involved whether on the station itself or back here on the ground.

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