How to Clean a Camelbak - 3 Quick & Easy Methods!

How to Clean a Camelbak - 3 Quick & Easy Methods! |  Cleaning your Camelbak (or cleaning any hydration bladder) is really very simple. In this quick tutorial I’m going to show you 3 super simple methods for keeping your hydration pack clean and mold free! | shedreamsofalpine.com

If you’ve ever wondered how to clean a Camelbak (or maybe it’s never even crossed your mind), I’m happy to report to you that its SUPER EASY (just like washing your down jacket) and doesn’t require a lot of fancy stuff to get it clean!

There are many different ways you can choose to clean your hydration bladder, but I like to stick with what's simple. So in todays “gear spring cleaning” post I’m going to show you 3 quick and easy methods for cleaning your Camelbak.

But the best news?…. you really don’t have to do it very often at all!

Which definitely appeals to my post backpacking trip lazy mood. I’m notoriously bad at unpacking my backpack until maybe 2-3 days after I’ve returned, so thank goodness hydration bladders don’t need to be constantly cleaned.

Simplistically, there are 3 basic steps to every cleaning method:

  1. Mix your Hot Water and Cleaning Substance of Choice into your Camelbak.

  2. Rinse Your Camelbak

  3. Air Dry

You could get fancy and get brushes and special cleaning solutions for this, but honestly, you don’t need to. I personally don’t.

Get in the habit of cleaning your camelbak after 2-3 months of use.

This is the second post of a series of gear “spring-cleaning” blog posts I have lined up for you for the next couple of weeks, so if you’ve been neglecting your gear and not cleaning it, nows the time to do a bit of freshening up before the summer backpacking and climbing season begins.


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How to Clean a Camelbak

I’ve got this post broken down for you in two ways: A quick video showing you my favorite approach to cleaning Camelbak bladders, and then extra explanation below for 3 quick and easy hydration pack cleaning methods for reference (plus some common Q&A around cleaning hydration bladders).

Video Tutorial- How to Clean Camelbak Bladder

Now in the steps below I’m going to walk you through how to clean a water bladder with 3 quick and easy methods (including the one I showed you in my video).

But first! Let’s talk preventative care!

Care & Storing

Ok, so the best way to keep your Camelbak clean and free of gunk and mold is just to always take good care of drying it out after a trip.

When you get done using it for the weekend, bring it home, drain it of water, and give the inside a good wipe down. Then prop the inside open (like I show in the video above) and let your Camelbak airdry. Be sure to also drain the water from the Camelbak tube as well and let that also airdry.

When you do this after trips, you shouldn’t need to do too much extra cleaning most of the time. I really only “wash” mine every 3-6 months, especially if I have been using it fairly frequently.

Many people also suggest that after you are done drying it, to fold it up and store your Camelbak in the fridge. I don’t personally do this, but it makes total sense as to why that would be another great way to help prevent mold from growing inside your Camelbak.

Keeping your water bladder clean & drying it properly after trips is the best way to keep your Camelbak clean and mold free!

How to clean a camelbak with vinegar

The tutorial below corresponds with my video on cleaning a Camelbak above.

SUPPLIES NEEDED

  • White Vinegar

  • Hot Water

  • Paper Towels / Clean Towels

Step 1 - RINSE CAMELBAK WITH WATER & VINEGAR SOLUTION (AND DRAIN)

Measure (or eyeball) 1 part white vinegar to about 6-10 parts hot water. I usually measure out about a tall cups worth of the mixture.

Then pour that mixture into your Camelbak and close the lid securely. Spend about 5 minutes swishing the mixture around in your Camelbak. Then drain the mixture out through the Camelbak tube (so that you make sure that gets cleaned too!).

Step 2 - RINSE WITH CLEAN WATER (AND DRAIN)

Now, nobody likes the taste of vinegar in their drinking water, so you’re going to want to fill up your Camelbak again but with fresh water this time only instead.

Swoosh it around inside again and drain through your straw.

Step 3 - AIR DRY

After you’re done cleaning your hydration bladder, wipe down the inside with a paper towel or clean towel. Then put 2 bunched up paper towels (or small clean towels) on the inside to help prop up the bladder for airflow.

I also usually prop a large kitchen spoon or utensil at the front (where the lid is) to hold it up even better for airflow.

Disconnect your straw from your Camelbak, make sure to drain it, and let this air dry as well.

Pro Tip: Store your (dry) Camelbak (or hydration bladder) in the freezer to keep it extra fresh!

Cleaning my camelbak with a vinegar & water solution is my preferred way of keeping it fresh.

How to clean a hydration bladder with baking soda

SUPPLIES NEEDED

  • 2 Tablespoons Baking Soda

  • Hot Water

  • Paper Towels / Clean Towels

Step 1 - RINSE CAMELBAK WITH WATER & BAKING SODA SOLUTION (AND DRAIN)

Measure 2 tablespoons of baking soda with a couple cups of hot water.

Then pour that mixture into your Camelbak and close the lid securely. Spend about 5 minutes swishing the mixture around in your Camelbak. Let the mixture sit for an extra 30 minutes for extra cleaning.

Then drain the mixture out through the Camelbak tube (so that you make sure that gets cleaned too!).

Step 2 - RINSE WITH CLEAN WATER (AND DRAIN)

Again, we want to make sure to rinse the solution thoroughly from the water reservoir, so you’re going to want to fill up your Camelbak again but with fresh water this time only instead.

Swoosh it around inside again and drain through your straw.

Step 3 - AIR DRY

After you’re done cleaning your hydration bladder, wipe down the inside with a paper towel or clean towel. Then put 2 bunched up paper towels (or small clean towels) on the inside to help prop up the bladder for airflow.

I also usually prop a large kitchen spoon or utensil at the front (where the lid is) to hold it up even better for airflow.

Disconnect your straw from your Camelbak, make sure to drain it, and let this airdry as well.

Pro Tip: Store your (dry) Camelbak (or hydration bladder) in the freezer to keep it extra fresh!

It’s particularly important to clean your hydration bladder if you’ve used electrolytes or anything besides water inside of it.

How to clean a water bladder with Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is particularly helpful with neutralizing odors in your hydration bladder, should you start to notice your water bladder having a “funk” to it.

SUPPLIES NEEDED

  • Lemon Juice

  • Hot Water

  • Paper Towels / Clean Towels

Step 1 - RINSE CAMELBAK WITH WATER & LEMON JUICE SOLUTION (AND DRAIN)

Measure 1/4 cup of lemon juice with a liter of hot water.

Then pour that mixture into your Camelbak and close the lid securely. Spend about 5 minutes swishing the mixture around in your Camelbak. Let the mixture sit for an extra 30 minutes for extra cleaning.

Then drain the mixture out through the Camelbak tube (so that you make sure that gets cleaned too!).

Step 2 - RINSE WITH CLEAN WATER (AND DRAIN)

Again, we want to make sure to rinse the solution thoroughly from the water reservoir, so you’re going to want to fill up your Camelbak again but with fresh water this time only instead.

Swoosh it around inside again and drain through your straw.

Step 3 - AIR DRY

After you’re done cleaning your hydration bladder, wipe down the inside with a paper towel or clean towel. Then put 2 bunched up paper towels (or small clean towels) on the inside to help prop up the bladder for airflow.

I also usually prop a large kitchen spoon or utensil at the front (where the lid is) to hold it up even better for airflow.

Disconnect your straw from your Camelbak, make sure to drain it, and let this airdry as well.

Pro Tip: Store your (dry) Camelbak (or hydration bladder) in the freezer to keep it extra fresh!


FAQ’S ON CLEANING CAMELBAKS

FAQ’s on how to clean your hydration bladder.

1) Do I need to clean my camelback for first use? Use one of the three above methods to clean your Camelbak before its first use!

2) How can I clean the Camelbak tube? Nothing too extra fancy here, just make sure the mixture runs through your tube  when you are cleaning the whole reservoir.

3) How do I clean the Camelback bite valve? Use the same solution you’re using in one of the methods above, but just do some extra scrubbing around the bite valve, and rinse with water!

4) Can I use bleach to clean my Camelbak? Yes, you can. You would use similar proportions as the baking soda method (2 tablespoons inside a solution of water), but honestly I chose not to show this method because I personally don’t like the thought of mixing bleach to clean something I drink out of regularly. Particularly since there are other natural materials that do the trick just as well.

5) How frequently should I clean my hydration pack? You don’t need to do this very often if you using your Camelbak regularly and are sure to dry it out well after trips. I like to wash mine about every 3 to 6 months. HOWEVER, if you put anything besides water into your reservoir (like electrolytes or anything with sugar) make sure to clean out your Camelbak afterwards.


 
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