News & Insights

Things don’t stand still for long at 14forty, and there’s always a lot going on. Here’s the latest FM news and insights.


news 16.03.16

In space no-one can hear you clean

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. 

Germ heaven
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 14forty aren’t in space, we do take our cleaning seriously. As well as offering high-quality cleaning as part of our facilities management service, we also maintain the best possible standards in Health, Safety and Hygiene. As such, every one of our HSE management systems is built to ISO 9001 quality, ISO 14001 environmental and OHSAS 18001 safety management standards.

Our standards are so high, in fact, that we think we could give the astronauts a run for their money.

Back to news