We've all (hopefully) done our fair share of housework during our lives. But very few of us have had our very lives depend on it...
Living in a box
Imagine spending weeks, or even months, working in the cramped conditions of the International Space Station. Surrounded by a thin layer of metal and gadgetry, the outside is a cold, infinite vacuum. Put yourself into that situation and the last thing on your mind would be housework. But cleanliness in space is actually extremely important — and, as you can imagine, not very easy to achieve.
Germs, it turns out, love it in space. They multiply in zero-gravity faster than they do on Earth, and that means that the astronauts on the International Space Station have to keep everything hygienically clean. Especially when you consider that the International Space Station is actually a giant science lab, and wayward bacteria could contaminate important experiments. So the astronauts use a potent liquid detergent called biocide, which they carefully spray as a liquid onto surfaces (they don’t want globules of it flying off around the station) and then wipe off with absorbent cloths. It’s similar to how we do it in our own homes, except the stakes are much, much higher.
Keeping it clean
Personal hygiene is equally important — as you’d expect when you have up to six people living in close quarters for extended lengths of time. Without gravity, showering is obviously a bit tricky. But they’ve figured out a way to do it. To keep things fresh the astronauts take showers in a big plastic cylinder. This keeps the water in one place — floating around the astronauts as they scrub themselves clean. And because a drain would be useless, the astronauts have to vacuum up the water when they’re done — which must really suck.
We think it’s fair to say that none of us here on Earth has to keep clean under that kind of pressure.
Back to earth
While we at Eurest aren’t in space (although we wouldn’t mind a trip, given the opportunity) we do take our cleanliness and safety very seriously. We make sure that every one of our restaurants is clean and safe by putting our staff through a CIEH and City & Guilds accredited, award-winning e-learning programme for Health, Safety and Hygiene. As a result, every single one of our 5,000+ UK sites is fully accredited to ISO 9001 (Quality Management), ISO 14001 (Environmental Management) and OHSAS 18001 (Health and Safety).
That way we know our people could give astronauts a run for their money when it comes to keeping clean.