There are some concerns about Lunar dust attaching to the space suits during the Apollo missions. So Suitports are being developed. On Earth, cars get pretty dirty too, but a car wash solves that. Would a similar washing method be feasible in vacuum or in thin Martian atmosphere, using some mixture of cleaning fluids or gasses? Or if I may add, cleaning by rubbing some powder or fluff nap to it?

At least this dirty boy (Cernan?) cleaned the flag on his shoulder before this photo opportunity after having played in the big sand box

  • $\begingroup$ My answer to the question, Martian dust getting into habitats, states research into using electron beams to remove lunar dust from suits has been successful, with 75-80 of dust being removed this way. The research suggests electron beams & brush could be used. $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    Aug 1, 2021 at 5:59

2 Answers 2


You could, though gaseous nitrogen and a pressure hose are usually used for such purging of contaminants. Such purging systems were also installed on Discovery and Atlantis Space Shuttle Orbiters for the purpose of purging payloads.

Problem with water is that it's heavier for the task, it tends to freeze in and around the nozzle without constant source of heat and then block it, and, as a liquid, it also doesn't have the best cleaning properties due to its relatively low viscosity yet high surface tension, so it tends to clump and miss spots, so to say. It also gets things wet which can then freeze, or freezes in hard to reach places, expands as it does that and can cause damage due to it.

See Why was the Hubble Space Telescope purged with nitrogen gas? for description why nitrogen is a better for purging, and since you mention Apollo, also check How was dust-mitigation addressed during the Apollo program?

  • $\begingroup$ Would such a nitrogen purging work on adhesive dust? Would it work against poisonous hypergolic fuels on a suit? There's some movie scene where that is impossible and the astronaut cannot enter the airlock, because the contamination would kill her anyway if she inhales it. (Maybe titled Sunshine, or Cargo?) Suitport seems to be a good idea. But even they might need some washing off every Saturnday or Moon morning or whatever. $\endgroup$
    – LocalFluff
    Jul 24, 2015 at 11:19
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    $\begingroup$ It would work better than water, you definitely don't want water anywhere near hypergolic fuels (even water can burn with e.g. some strong oxidizers like fluorine, or otherwise reacts explosively in contact with some monopropellants). And for abrasive dust, it would be better to use as it expands better and wouldn't cause damage similar to sandblasting on surfaces, if less uniformly expanding jet of water was used instead. Also see the update, I added a few things to my answer. $\endgroup$
    – TildalWave
    Jul 24, 2015 at 11:22
  • $\begingroup$ You seem to have even this random subject covered. I'm impressed. (Returning to my desk to try figuring out something which is as equally relevant as unanswered). $\endgroup$
    – LocalFluff
    Jul 24, 2015 at 11:26

You do not have to use water you can A alcohol or antifreeze base solution to spray off moon Dust so it would not freeze This would have to be done in a small room not much bigger than Porta John this may have to be left on moon to you later time moon as far as the shield getting Scratched up moon dust you would have to have a multi layers shield even if nothing but something a little thicker than cling wrap

  • $\begingroup$ this is a separate question. Please do not post questions in answers or comments and use the site as intended. $\endgroup$
    – lijat
    Aug 5, 2018 at 5:23
  • $\begingroup$ @BurlCabe this doesn't directly answer the question as asked. When you get a little more reputation (points) you'll be able to add comments. Until then use answer posts only to directly answer the question, and question posts to ask new questions. Welcome to Stack Exchange! Consider taking a moment to visit the help center and to take the tour. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Aug 5, 2018 at 6:03
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    $\begingroup$ The problems of using water in a vacuum will not be solved by adding alcohol or anti freeze. Water will evaporate very fast, with or without anti freeze. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Aug 5, 2018 at 10:33

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