Astronauts and cosmonauts on the ISS vacuum the station every week, making sure not to miss any spot.

When was this practice put in place?
What other cleaning practices when used before that?

The Salyut 6 space station apparently had a lot of mold, to the point that it was a deciding factor in its retirement, and the Mir space station reeked of mould, mites and degenerated into a disgusting orbital stinkbomb.

Is the vacuuming done on the ISS sufficient to avoid this and could it have been avoided had it been used on those stations?


For the US space program, it started in Skylab.

Vacuuming of the Orbital Workshop mixing chamber screen, the waste management compartment screen, and other environmental control system screens was performed on an as-needed basis, usually about every other day. Screens with large mesh did not require vacuuming since most of the debris passed through them. The fine mesh screens however, collected a great deal of debris such as lint, food particles, hair,and paint chips.The debris was easily removed with the vacuum cleaner.

Skylab Mission Report, Second Visit, Chapter 10.2.7 "Housekeeping"

You can see the vacuum cleaner in use to collect hair during a haircut here.

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From Wikipedia but by NASA

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the answer! My question was also about Salyut, mir and potential mold so I'll wait for at least another answer before accepting one. $\endgroup$ Jun 18 '20 at 20:31
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Speedphoenix that's a good idea. Maybe one of the Russian members will weigh in, I hope so anyway. $\endgroup$ Jun 18 '20 at 20:36

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