The best way to care for and clean your hydration pack

On a day-to-day basis, staying well-watered feels like a Herculean task. (Name one person who gets their eight glasses a day without fail.)

Add in an arduous hike or bike ride and a moldy hydration bladder that makes your water taste like the inside of a sock and you’ve whipped up a foolproof recipe for dehydration.

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The only way to prevent funky tastes and smells in your hydration bladder is to clean it regularly. If only we all were so diligent.

What you should be doing

hydration pack
You’re probably going to be pretty thirsty right about now. Photo: Ales Krivec/Unsplash
After every hike or ride, empty your hydration bladder completely and gently wash it out with soap and water. Dry as much of the bladder as you can, then hang it up and squeeze the mouthpiece to drain the rest of the water out.

After the bladder is completely dry, stick it in the freezer to prevent mold from growing.

What you’re probably doing

Throwing your water pack in the garage with the rest of your gear and hitting the shower, then going out to dinner. And then you totally forget about the bladder until the next trip.

We’ve all been there.

How to fix it

hydration bladder
Keeping your hydration bladder clean isn’t as hard as it seems. Photo: Johnie Gall
CamelBak and a few other companies sell cleaning kits for around $20, which include brushes and cleaning solutions. It’s a worthwhile investment, but you can also make your own solution by combining 2 tablespoons of baking soda or a dash of bleach with water.

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Swish it around the bladder and use a sponge or soft brush to scrub the corners and soft folds of the pouch. Let the solution run through the tube by squeezing the mouthpiece.

Next, wash out the bladder with hot water and mild dish soap; make sure you get all of the solution out. Let the bladder air dry until all the water is gone, then stick it in the freezer. Remind yourself not to let it happen again.

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