Best Ways to Clean a Hydration Pack Bladder
You’ve just returned from a weekend cycling trip. You’re tired, hungry, and can’t decide what to do first: unpack, shower, or drink. Cleaning a dirty hydration pack is probably the last thing on your mind, so you give it up for a while. But if you allow it to sit for some days, strange new life forms will begin to create habitats within your neglected pack.
You can take certain measures to prevent the formation of a mold terrarium in your Camelbak. When it comes to a Camelbak Reservoir, there is only one necessary piece of advice: the best way to take care of your reservoir is to clean and dry it after each use, especially if you fill the reservoir with something other than water.
In other words, it deserves preventive care. It’s easy to recommend, but it’s not that easy to follow after a long day of riding. Thankfully, Camelbak recognizes that reservoir maintenance is sometimes left on the back burner – we don’t all religiously wash our outdoor equipment, let alone our water bottles and hydration packs. Here are the firm’s official tips on how to clean a hydration pack bladder:
- Use lukewarm water and 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda or bleach. Mix the solution in your reservoir and carefully hold it above your head while squeezing the bite valve, letting the treated water flow to the head of the tube. Alternatively, you can use CamelBak cleaning tabs for the same effect.
- Let the reservoir and cleaning solution settle and mix for about 30 minutes.
- Wash the reservoir with lukewarm soapy water and neutral soap. Be sure to rinse the bleach or cleaning solution thoroughly before reuse. Here, you can also use CamelBak brushes to scrub the tube and reservoir. Brushes are a great way to ensure you clean all areas of the reservoir.
- Once the reservoir is clean, let dry until there is no moisture left inside. Moisture is the primary contributor to mold growth.
How to Get Mold Out of a Camelbak Reservoir
Some additional tips for caring for and cleaning your Camelbak reservoir in the worst-case scenarios:
- Immerse the reservoir in hot water overnight after a thorough cleaning.
- If the valve remains very dirty and you want to dry it, you can carefully leave a toothpick partway inside while it dries to increase the airflow – always ensure you do not lose the toothpick inside.
- You can also remove the individual parts of the bladder and put them in the dishwasher unless directed otherwise by product warnings.
- It is notoriously difficult to wash out the taste of tequila or whiskey; therefore, if you decide to drink alcohol from a hydration pack, buy a separate bladder exclusively for this purpose.
An essential tip is to make a habit of cleaning your hydration pack after each trip. If left too long, and visible mold develops permanently, then you might have to count your losses and buy a new hydration bladder.
The above steps will help keep your reservoirs safe for continued use. Occasionally, your reservoir may appear stained after cleaning, but provided you followed these steps carefully; it would still be safe.
Care and Maintenance of a Camelbak Hydration Reservoir
Taking care of the pack portion of the hydration pack is a matter of taste. Some of us quickly clean up dirt or mud stains. Others proudly bear these marks as evidence of well-used packs. Regardless, you always want to ensure that your bladder reservoir can supply clean water every time.
Never use the bladder for a drink besides water. It is extremely difficult to rinse sports drinks and juices from these sealed containers properly, and any residual sugar will stimulate bacterial growth. If you need to use a sports drink in your hydrating backpack, consider buying a second one just for this purpose and pay close attention to cleanliness.
The most important step to keep the reservoir clean is to allow the inside of the bladder to dry completely after each use. Some reservoir manufacturers sell drying racks configured for their products, such as the CamelBak Crux reservoir.
When it comes to completely cleaning the reservoir, here are some final tips. The first thing to remember is not to overdo it. Strong chlorine solutions will leave a residual taste (not to mention a possible health hazard!), and boiling water can damage the bladder. Whichever approach is used, ensure you keep it clean and develop a habit of maintenance and care.