How to Clean a Hydration Bladder

how to clean hydration bladder

After an exhausting ride bike, we are more likely to leave the hydration bladder under the pile of clothes or some other place and forget about it. Only most dedicated bike riders will rinse, scrub and air-dry it every time they come back from another adventure. But, putting the bladder aside without cleaning it, can lead to some growing bacteria.

Let’s face it:

Cleaning your hydration bladder is the last thing on your mind when you come back home after a bike trip. You want to take a shower, get something to eat and probably can’t wait to lay in your bed. But, if you don’t clean your Camelbak properly you can expect chunks and some other things like mold, funky flavors, and mildew.

The chances are bigger for this to happen if you have added other drinks to it.

But, it doesn’t have to be like that:

It is crucial to learn how to clean a hydration bladder so you can use it for your next trip. There are a few things you can do to prevent some bacteria forming in your reservoir. Clean it and dry after every use is the best way to take care of your bladder.

1. Clean the Reservoir

Your hydration bladder deserves a proper care. Make sure there is no unidentifiable funk, mildew or mold growing inside. You can remove it with the wadded-up paper towels or a water-bottle brush.

The next thing you need to do is prepare a home brew for cleaning and maintain your bladder. Put one tablespoon of bleach into a reservoir and fill it with water (half of it). Close the cap properly.

Shake the water around for a while and let it rest for about 30 minutes. Or you can use this solution – mix one teaspoon of baking soda and one teaspoon of bleach into the half-gallon of water. Fill the reservoir and let it stay overnight.

In the morning, rinse it well with the clean water. Some people also use the denture cleaner as an alternative, but according to FDA, there is a chance of an allergic reaction. (source)

2. Clean the Bite Valve

After you have done cleaning the reservoir, the next step is to wash bite valve. Do this by holding the camelbak above it. Squeeze the valve and fill a half of cup with the bleach solution into a small container and set it aside.

The rest of the water from the reservoir leave it to sit in the tube for about an hour and then drain into the sink. Rinse the bleach out of the tank by filling it with hot water several times and pouring it through the tube.

Use a dry and clean towel to push it into the reservoir and hand-dry it. If you need an extra scrubbing, try to use a brush. Or, if you can put your arm in it, then wrap a towel around the brush, and clean the bladder with it.

3. Reassemble It

Removing the tube from the reservoir can be hard. Try to submerge the connection in hot water for about five to ten minutes to heat up the plastic. This way it will be easier to remove it since the connection will loosen up from the heat.

hydration bladder tube

4. Clean the Tube

Use a paracord to clean the tube if it gets filthy. Tie the knots at the ends of it and push it through the pipe to clean it out. If needed repeat this action several times.

Or, try using another solution to clean the tube. Buy some pipe cleaners and a 3/16-inch wooden dowel that is longer than the drink tube. Take the pipe cleaner and fold it in half.

Insert it into the drink tube and use the dowel to push the cleaner all the way through it. This way you will clean the pipe better than just wash it, especially if there is some mold caught on. If the cleaner is dirty, repeat this action several times, to make sure it is pure.

You can also soak the pipe cleaners into the bleach solution that you left aside in the small container, and clean the tube. Of course, don’t forget to clean the bite valves with it. To prevent mold from growing inside of your camelback, after you finish using it, roll it up and store it in your freezer to keep it from getting a funky taste.

5. Storage It Properly

Don’t store it in a freezer too often; it can damage the hydration bladder tube and O-rings. But, there is one thing you can try. Use a vinyl-covered metal hanger and bend it, so the wings are parallel to one another.

Hang the bladder on the wings that will hold the sides apart so that it can dry evenly and adequately. It is important to dry everything, so there is no moisture left. Don’t use the plastic hanger because it sometimes leaves slight chlorine taste.

Next time you want to use it, try to fix funky taste with the water and two tablespoons of baking soda and let it soak for about half an hour. Or use something else, like lemon and hot water, and leave it for about 15 minutes or less.

Try to find your way of drying and storage the hydration bladder. The most important thing is that your method doesn’t shorten the life of plastic or make it taste strange.


Leaving your hydration bladder sitting for days or week, after a bike trip, you can expect to grow bacteria inside of it. Especially if you put some protein infusions, carb brews electrolyte or some other drink besides water. If you don’t clean it properly and regularly, it will surely grow some mildew or mold.

And for the next trip, you will taste some unidentifiable funky taste. To prevent this from happening, follow this easy guide, clean your bladder properly and enjoy on your next bike or hiking trip!

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