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Chris Hadfield Brushes his Teeth in Space

Chris Hadfield Brushes his Teeth in Space


Tekni (ph) from Beeton, Ontario asks: Is it challenging to brush your teeth in space without getting toothpaste up your nose from weightlessness? Well, let’s talk about how to brush your teeth in space. Standard toothbrush, nothing magical there. But we’ve got a few different things. We don’t have running water. You can’t have a tap, you can’t have a sink because water would flow everywhere. And so what do you do to wet your toothbrush, and where do you spit afterwards? Those are the big questions. So first, we just fill up a water bag with water. And this is where we’re going to put on our toothpaste. So let me get a ball of water here. There’s a nice ball of water floating in the ends. Shut off the straw – very carefully. OK, and get my toothbrush wet. Toothbrushes soak up water nicely. So now I have a nice, wet toothbrush. Good. So I’m partway there. Got my toothbrush wet, now I just need to put some toothpaste on it and get cleaning my teeth. So I’m going to suck the water off it, because where else would it go? Nice, wet toothbrush. Grab some toothpaste. We just use standard toothpaste in space. Squeeze a little on, not too much because you’re going to have to clean it up later. OK, so there’s my toothpaste on my toothbrush. It’s wet, it’s ready to go, it’s loaded. Brush my teeth, just like normal. Get ’em all, especially the ones in the back. You should brush your teeth for about as long as you can sing Happy Birthday. That should be long enough. OK, so now what am I going to do? I’ve got a mouth full of toothpaste stuff, I’ve got a dirty toothbrush. So what I do is I just swallow the toothpaste. It’s edible, won’t kill you. And what else am I going to do – put it in a rag and have a dirty rag? Doesn’t make any sense. So in space, you just swallow your toothpaste. It leaves my toothbrush just a little bit dirty, so I need to find where my water went and rinse it out. Fortunately, things are weightless, so things don’t go too far. So here’s my water again, so now I’ll get a little water in my mouth, rinse out my toothbrush. So I have a relatively clean, slightly damp toothbrush to put back in my toothbrush case. The toothpaste is hung back on the wall. We communally share one toothpaste tube, just like living in a dormitory. And I still have good water to drink.
And it doesn’t go up your nose. There’s nothing to push it up your nose. It just floats. So it works fine. That’s how you brush your teeth in space.


Reader Comments

  1. They probally have flouride free toothpaste so the staff wont get ill and possibly die.. Its just a thought i had. 🙂

  2. Well, 6 months straight of swallowing it, not to mention his other space trips, and he's still going strong.

  3. Those are heavy metals only. The human body has issues breaking down heavy metals like iron, lead, mercury, and arsenic so it builds up over time. Minute amounts of flourine are readily processed and will cause no lasting damage. I challenge anyone who has a fear of fluoride in toothpaste to link a news article that states conclusively that a toothpaste overdose caused illness or death. I've tried and couldn't find one. It'd be an interesting read if someone else can.

  4. You are correlating two things together with little evidence to prove it. It's like the pirates/global warming correlation. And this is aside that flourine does not affect the heart. It affects bone density, kidneys, IQ, and your thyroid. But again it takes a ridiculous amount to do so. And you have to ingest that amount everyday for a long time. It doesn't build up like heavy metals do.

  5. I don't know what kind of toothpaste he used, but I know toothpaste that is made for children is allowed to be swallowed 'cause kids don't know any better lol

  6. a couple of weeks ago I landed at Houston and to my pleasant surprise colonel Hadfield got off the same plane! As a Canadian we all pretty much know who he is and he was as gracious and friendly as you could hope for. After taking a quick photo with him I let him get back to his busy schedule. very cool guy!

  7. nasa's toothpaste is probably edible, as hadfield explained

    and if you're talking about fluoride, yah you shouldn't ingest that stuff and it shouldn't be in drinking water

  8. i'd rather much not use tooth paste/ waste water and just brush dry! that's really all you need in this situation…

  9. Well, that and the fact that literally everything he said about the fluorine in toothpaste is complete bosh.

  10. I love these videos! thanks for posting! this might sound like a stupid question, but Is Chris in the ISS right now? I'll wave to him next time I look up ;D

  11. …So he has to swallow the toothpaste in space, huh? No other option?

    Maybe I can convince my girlfriend to go to space with me.

  12. it isn't totally poisonous because you're still putting it in your mouth and if it was, you'd be dead since there are remnants in your mouth afterwards. I think it means to call poison control if you just downed an entire tube

  13. Toothpaste is completely harmless in small amounts. What people are saying is just don't eat the whole tube. It's not a minty-gooey snack.

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