I've occasionally heard casual remarks about getting uniforms cleaned, but how do they clean uniforms? How about blankets and sheets, towels, casual/formal wear, and any other articles that are bound to get dirty at some point? I don't ever remember seeing crew members carrying around baskets of dirty clothing. Do officer quarters have some kind of washing machine?

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    No, Ensign Gomez just smears it around. Commented May 21 at 17:59
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    I read somewhere, likely in David Gerrold's Making of book, that (in tacit canon) uniforms were destroyed and reconstituted, rather than washed. Commented May 21 at 22:57
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    @AntonSherwood But I inherited this shirt from Grandad Theseus. If I destroy and reconstitute it, is it still my grandfather's shirt?
    – Ray
    Commented May 22 at 13:29
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    It's probably in the same room as the toilets you never see. We've occasionally seen bathrooms in crew quarters, but as far as I can recall, never the actual toilet. Commented May 23 at 14:38

2 Answers 2


The Enterprise D (and presumably other Federation starships as well) have garment reprocessors. This is mentioned somewhat offhandedly in TNG:Cost Of Living, when Worf complains to Troi that his son Alexander sometimes fails to deposit his laundry into this appliance.

WORF: My instructions were clear.

ALEXANDER: They were not!

WORF: Before he was allowed to play, he was to place his soiled clothing in the garment reprocessor.

ALEXANDER: I was not!

TROI: I sense a touch of hostility here, gentlemen.

(Quoted from 1.)

It's not made clear how the reprocessor works in detail (e. g., whether it actually cleans the garments, or whether it is just some kind of specialized replicator which breaks down the garments into their molecules and remakes them).

It's also not made clear whether it's just used for civilian clothing or also uniforms. We can assume the uniforms were made of special fabric to meet military specifications, and thus might need special care. On the other hand, the designers would probably not preclude use in a standard garment reprocessor without a compelling reason.

I wonder what happens if you put a starfleet uniform in a garment reprocessor and forget to remove the combadge.

Addendum: per @Valorum's comment (thanks, I didn't remember that one), there is an even earlier reference to a laundry cleaning appliance in TNG:In Theory, the cleaning processor:

KEIKO: Every night, Miles leaves his socks on the floor. When we got married, I made the mistake of picking them up a few times. Then I realised, if I kept it up I'd be doing it the rest of my life. So I stopped, figuring he'd get the point and do it himself. One night goes by, two, a week, ten days. By now there's a pile of socks half a metre high.

O'BRIEN: Come on, it wasn't half a metre.

KEIKO: After two weeks I couldn't stand it any more. I bundled them up and put them in the cleaning processor. And I'm still doing it.

O'BRIEN: And a very good job she does of it, too.

(Quoted from 2.)

Now, is a garment reprocessor the same as a cleaning processor? I'd think so, for why would you have two different types of appliances for the same kind of job?

Or maybe the garment reprocessor is a launderette kind of thing (like you have one stack of these per deck, in a room doubling as crew gossip hub), while the cleaning processor is a smaller appliance right in the quarters of couples (an arrangement designed not only by Starfleet engineers but counselors as well, based on a century of experience)? But that's just pure speculation on my part.


By the time of TNG, replicators are able to make clothing (first mentioned in TNG episode "The Survivors" according to Memory Alpha); I don't know if it's explicitly stated but I assume this includes uniforms. Why wash dirty uniforms or repair damaged ones when you can just have the replicator recycle them and create a new set?

In the Okuda's Star Trek Encyclopedia, a list of the facilities on various decks of the TOS era Constitution class shows a ship's laundry on Deck 8, so in that time frame, before replicator technology was as developed, they still had to do it the old fashioned way.

A possible argument against replicator made uniforms: The first episode of Voyager has this bit of dialogue between Neelix and Tuvok:

"Do these, uh, replicators make clothing as well?"
"Will it make me a uniform like yours?"
"No. It most certainly will not."

It's not clear to me if this means it won't make a uniform for Neelix specifically (since he's not a member of Star Fleet) or in general.

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    "why not... just have the replicator recycle them and create a new set" Because the replicators use energy and, while the warp drive provides loads of it, it's not unlimited (as noted in Voyager). Not saying you're wrong, but this could use some supporting info. It is IMHO, a very reasonable assumption, but it is just an assumption...
    – FreeMan
    Commented May 21 at 18:26
  • @FreeMan replicators are also capable of breaking down matter and reusing the raw materials. Not just raw energy.
    – Shawn
    Commented May 21 at 18:36
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    @FreeMan We know that the replicators de-replicate dirty dishes. It would seem the mass of 3 sets of dishes a day plus a few mugs of tea exceeds that of a set of clothing.
    – user71659
    Commented May 22 at 4:48
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    I interpreted Tuvok's response as meaning that it's programmed not to make Starfleet uniforms for non-SF people, not that it's physically incapable.
    – Barmar
    Commented May 22 at 14:42
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    I took Tuvok's response to be that Neelix was this close to puncturing his Vulcan cool and that was the best logical, yet backhanded way, of saying "there's no way someone like you will ever be wearing a uniform like this. Commented May 22 at 21:00

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