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How to Clean a Camelbak Hydration Reservoir

If you use a Camelbak Hydration Reservoir you’re going to want to keep it, its hose , and bite valve clean. If you just drink water, you can store it empty in the freezer or dry it out after each use and nothing bad will grow in it. But if you put any kind of flavoring or performance enhancement powder into your Camelbak, you definitely need to take a more active approach to keeping them clean between uses. These things can turn into science experiments quickly if you’re not careful.

Here are a few common cleaning techniques:

  • Use hot water and 2 tablespoons of baking soda or bleach.  Efferdent denture cleaning tablets also work as a cleansing agent.
  • Let the reservoir and cleaning solution sit for about 30 minutes.
  • Hold the reservoir above your head while you pinch the bite valve, allowing the cleaning solution to run through the tube and bit valve.
  • Wash the reservoir with hot water and mild soap. Be sure to completely rinse away any bleach or cleaning solution before using again.
  • Once the reservoir is clean, be sure to air dry the reservoir so no moisture is trapped inside, which can cause mold to grow.

These steps will make your reservoir safe for use.  If you have spots left from the mold, they will never come all the way out because the reservoir is permanently stained, but still safe and usable.

See also:

REI: Cleaning Water Bottles and Hydration Packs

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  1. Great tips on cleaning! I remember the first time I saw a Camelbak hydration system in the mid ’80’s, I think, anyway the owner put Gatoraid in the reservoir and didn’t properly clean it. By the time I found it it looked like fur was growing inside…no it was not me, but I’m still married to him. :-O

  2. Even better way to have them always clean is to never use a camelback to begin with. Cleaning tubes gunky mystry sludge in a water carrier. No thanks. I would rather drink water from a horse hoof imprint.

    • Next SectionHiker blog post:

      “Cleaning water from a horse hoof imprint”

      Actually, I’ve had to do worse… and lived to tell about it!

    • Your comment reminded me of the quote from ‘True Grit’

      LeBoeuf: You’re lucky to be traveling in a place where a spring is so handy. In my country you can ride for days and see no ground water. I have lapped filthy water from a hoof print
      and was glad to have it.

      Rooster Cogburn: If I ever meet one of you Texas waddies who says he had never drank water out of a horse track I think I’ll shake his hand, give him a Daniel Webster cigar.

  3. Great tip!. What about if you use an inline filter? I use the Platty 2 liter hydration system, similar to the Camalbak, along with their gravity filter when I hike.

  4. I just keep mine in the fridge when not used, and never drain the water out. Clean it about once a year…MAYBE. No issues.

  5. I rinse my hydration bladder with vinegar then store it empty in the freezer. When i pull it out to use it all I do is a quick rince and fill it with liquid. I use a Source brand bladder that is very simple to clean.

  6. Does this method get rid of the plastic taste? I stopped using hydration units for 2 reasons: First, that taste is terrible. Second, the lightest 2 liter hydration unit I could find is 8 ounces. 2 one liter Aquafina water bottles weigh half an ounce each and never taste bad.

    • The vinegar method? You might want to try the Source bladders, they ar emuch better than Camelbaks, but I also can’t argue with you about reusing water bottles. That’s mainly what I use too.

  7. I just clean my Platypus “bottles” with a bleach solution and rinse them well. To dry them, I use Jason Klass’ method.

  8. I fill camelbak completely with the bleach and water mixture and recommended and store it. There’s no reason to dry it and take a chance on mold growing.

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