How to Clean a Hydration Pack: A Full Guide

Updated February 12, 2021

You may not realize it right away, but hydration packs require regular cleaning. But why does something that we fill with water need cleaning?

Well, bacteria and mold thrive in moist environments, and in time, your favorite hydration pack will be their target unless you stop them. This is where we come in!

In this guide, we’re sharing a complete guide on how to clean a hydration pack. It’s not too hard to do, especially if you use the right supplies and the proper technique.

What Supplies do You Need for Cleaning a Hydration Pack?

Using the right supplies can make cleaning your hydration pack a lot easier and more thorough. Below is a list of all the items you may need for the job:

Hydration Pack Cleaning Solutions

In addition to mild dish soap, you may need one or all of the following cleaning solutions according to the condition of your system:

Baking soda: you probably have heard of using baking soda for cleaning purposes, and yes, it does work. As an all-around cleaner, baking soda is effective against bacteria, mold, and unpleasant odors.

Generally, you should use 1/4 cup of baking soda in 3/4 cups of water for every liter of volume in your pack.
Lemon juice: this is a natural cleanser that helps you get rid of strong odors. A 1/4 cup of lemon juice per liter of water should do the trick.

You can even combine lemon juice with baking soda and/or bleach for tougher jobs, but make sure you point the bladder opening away from your face or body to avoid exposure to the fizzy reaction of these substances.

Household bleach: killing bacteria, mold, and viruses, bleach is no joke. As such, you shouldn’t use too much to avoid ruining your hydration pack. Adding 2 to 5 drops of unscented household bleach per liter of water will work just fine.

Don’t forget that you can mix bleach with baking soda for a more thorough cleaning.

Reservoir cleaning tablets: yes, these exist. Not only are such tablets formulated to remove dirt and other deposits that can build up in hydration packs over time, but they also save you the hassle of measuring. Just pop in a tablet in the bladder and you’re good to go.
Denture-cleaning tablets: these can be a cheaper alternative to bladder cleaning tablets, but they’re not specifically formulated for hydration packs.

Hydration Pack Cleaning Tools

Cleaning the inside of a hydration system may require some of the following tools to help you get those hard-to-reach spots:
Cleaning brushes: depending on their shape, these can work for both your bladder and drinking tube: cleaning brushes can help you better reach into all the nooks and crannies.

A knotted cord: the cord has to be longer than the drinking tube and the knot needs to be big enough to fit snugly inside it. From here, you’ll simply pull the knotted cord through the tube a few times during the cleaning process.

How to Clean a Hydration Pack Step-by-Step

Add the Cleaning Solution

  1. 1. Mix or prepare the cleaning solution.
  2. 2. Pinch the bite valve of your hydration pack to ensure that the cleaning solution reaches the tube.
  3. 3. Add the cleaning solution, or fill the bladder with warm water (not too hot that it burns you) and throw in a cleaning tablet.
  4. 4. Seal the pack tightly and give it a few strong shakes.
  5. 5. Lift the pack up and let the tube drape into the sink.
  6. 6. Pinch open the bite valve until you see water coming out of it. This indicates that the cleaning solution is in contact with the whole hydration pack system.
    1. 7. Set it aside and allow it to soak. If you’re using a household cleaning solution, let it soak for about 20 minutes. If you’re using bladder cleaning tablets, the instructions typically specify a waiting period of 5 minutes.

    Wash and Rinse

    1. 8. Once time’s up, fill the bladder and tube again with a mixture of warm water and some dish soap.
    2. 9. Scrub the interior of the bladder using a bristle brush.
    3. 10. Scrub the interior of the tube using a knotted cord. Removing the bite valve will make this easier.
    4. 11. Rinse all the components thoroughly (tube, reservoir, and bite valve).

    Dry Out

    1. 12. Set the bladder upright to dry or put it on its hanger.
    2. 13. Hang the drinking tube and set the bite valve aside. Some hangers feature a tube clip, or you can drape the tube over a clothes hanger or a horizontal bar. – Using the bathroom for the drying process may be tempting because it can handle a few drips, it’s not an ideal option. The best location for drying is a non-humid, out-of-the-way spot.
    3. 14. Allow all the components of the hydration system plenty of time to thoroughly dry. Storing it away with even a little bit of moisture inside can cause bacterial and mold growth. – If you live in a humid place where bacteria and mold grow easily, or if you often fill your hydration reservoir with sticky sports drinks, you may want to consider freezing it to help prevent nasty growth. Once you’re done washing and drying, put the bladder and tube inside your freezer until you’re ready to use them again.

    How to Clean a Hydration Pack in the Dish Washer

    Not all types of hydration packs can be cleaned alongside your dishes. The ones with reversible bladders are the suitable style for this method.

    All you need to do is just flip them inside out and place them inside your dishwasher. Typically, they’re top-shelf dishwasher safe.

    Wrap Up – There you have it, a full guide on how to clean a hydration pack. Although it may seem like a pain, this process can be pretty easy. Remember, keeping up a regular cleaning schedule helps prevent unpleasant odor, taste, and mold growth. It can also extend the lifespan of your hydration system.