Woman holds hydration pack while sitting on rock.

How to Clean Your Hydration Bladder

By Sorcha Szczerbiak

Hydration bladders are convenient ways to keep your hands free while bringing the water needed to quench your thirst during an active adventure. However, they’re like most outdoor equipment and need proper cleaning. 

Wash and Dry Before the First Use 

Use warm water with mild soap or lemon juice to rinse out any residue before using your hydration bladder for the first time. Our hydration bladders have removable bite valves for easy cleaning.  

Make sure to let the hydration bladder dry completely before drinking from it. We recommend using kitchen tongs to prop the inside open and prevent the insides from sticking to each other. That simple trick speeds the drying process and gives you thorough results. You can also wrap a paper towel around your hand, then put it up into the hydration bladder’s opening to pat the interior surface.  

Group walks on trail with hydration packs.

Rinse Out Daily During Adventures, and Thoroughly Once Home 

If you’ve brought your hydration bladder on a camping trip or other multiday excursion, rinse it out after each use and hang it to dry with the tube facing down. Once you get home, clean it as soon as possible using the steps in the previous section. The warm, dark environment of a hydration bladder in storage could promote mold growth.  

When you need to clean the tube, consider purchasing a specialized brush that will fit through the narrow opening and go down the entire length. One of the easiest ways to dry the tube after washing it is to hang the tube from something high, then let gravity push the moisture down. Our hydration bladders have handy built-in hang loops at the top.  

Freshen Up the Bladder to Remove Bad Tastes 

Many people eventually find that the water from their hydration bladders has a funny taste. Fortunately, that common issue is an easy one to solve, and the solution relies on household staples.  

Just combine lemon juice and warm water with a baking soda or vinegar solution. Pour the mixture in, then close the lid and gently shake or squeeze the bladder to disperse the liquid throughout the inside.  

Man looks out over waterfall with backpack on.

Be Aware of Your Water Sources 

Exploring the outdoors doesn’t always give you easy access to safe water sources. Boiling water for one minute — or three minutes at elevations higher than 6,500 feet — is the most dependable way to kill organisms that could make you sick. Give it plenty of time to cool before drinking.  

Many state parks in the United States have spigots you can use to refill hydration bladders or water bottles. Some destinations have real-time water-quality monitoring equipment. However, pay attention to accompanying signage, because some of these water locations do not allow using them to wash dishes or brush your teeth.  

Additionally, some parks only offer drinking water during certain times of the year, especially if the area gets frequent freezing temperatures. If in doubt, talk to visitor center staff members or refer to the park’s website.  

Create a Hydration Bladder Cleanliness Habit 

Your hydration bladder can last for years with the correct care. Using the cleaning steps outlined here will keep yours ready for your next outing.