How To Clean a Hydration Bladder Using a Cleaning Kit

Table of contents
  1. Key Points
  2. Crux Reservoir Hydration Bladder Cleaning Kit

    by CamelBak 

    Buy Now
    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
    11/27/2023 03:31 pm GMT
    The Bountiful Benefits of Using a Cleaning Kit
  3. Step-by-Step Guide on How To Use a Cleaning Kit
  4. Precautions When Using a Cleaning Kit
  5. Recommended Cleaning Kits
  6. Clean Your Hydration Bladder Often

Key Points

  • Staying hydrated is essential for an outdoor lifestyle.

  • In order to drink clean and safe water, it is important to clean your hydration bladder.

  • The fastest way to clean a hydration bladder is to use a cleaning kit.

It's hot in them thar' hills. Residents of the Central United States, unfortunately, saw an intense heat dome descend upon them in August of 2023. With temperatures on the rise due to climate change and whatnot, one irrefutable truth becomes apparent: You need to stay hydrated if you're going outside.

That's where the hydration bladder comes in. Using a hydration bladder offers convenient, hands-free access to water during activities like hiking, biking, or running, eliminating the need to stop and reach for a water bottle. Like anything else, hydration bladders need a proper cleansing. Failure to do so may lead to icky things like bacteria. The best way to clean a hydration bladder is by using a cleaning kit.

Crux Reservoir Hydration Bladder Cleaning Kit

by CamelBak 

Buy Now
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
11/27/2023 03:31 pm GMT
The Bountiful Benefits of Using a Cleaning Kit

The benefits of a cleaning kit are aplenty, extending past the cleanliness of your hydration bladder and into the realm of your own personal health.

Thorough Cleansing

A dedicated cleaning kit usually includes brushes and tools designed specifically for the contours and dimensions of hydration bladders. This ensures that you can effectively clean all the nooks and crannies that are difficult to reach with regular cleaning tools.

Prevents Bacterial Growth

Hydration bladders are absolute breeding grounds for fiendish microorganisms. The mixture of moistness, along with residue, dirt, and other contaminants, creates conditions where tiny creatures are able to be fruitful and multiply.

A cleaning kit helps you remove any residue, dirt, or contaminants that could promote bacterial growth, helping to keep your water safe and clean.

If you use your hydration bladder for various types of liquids (water, energy drinks, wine), proper cleaning with a kit prevents cross-contamination. Residue from one type of liquid affects the taste and safety of another, so regular cleaning is essential.

Extends Lifespan

Regular and proper cleaning with a cleaning kit can prolong the lifespan of your hydration bladder. By preventing the buildup of mineral deposits, mold, and bacteria, degradation of the bladder material is slower, meaning you don't have to shell out more cash for a new hydration bladder. All that gunk is like plaque on your teeth. If you don't take care of it, it's going to cause much more harm later.

Optimal Performance

A clean hydration bladder ensures the proper functioning of the system. Detritus affects the flow of water through the tube and bite valve, leading to reduced efficiency. If the bladder gets dirty enough, it's like sucking cement through a straw.

Cleaning the components with a dedicated kit helps maintain optimal performance.

There's more, but you probably want to know how to use a cleaning kit. Stay tuned.

Step-by-Step Guide on How To Use a Cleaning Kit

Follow these steps, and you're well on your way to the cleanest, most efficient hydration bladder to ever grace this planet.

1. Gather Your Materials

Make sure you have all the materials needed for the cleaning process: the cleaning kit, warm water, cleaning solution, and a towel or drying rack.

2. Empty and Disassemble the Hydration Bladder

Empty the hydration bladder completely and disassemble all its parts. This includes removing the reservoir, disconnecting the tube, and detaching the bite valve and any other removable components.

3. Rinse Thoroughly

Fill the hydration bladder with warm water and swish it around to rinse out any loose dirt or debris. Empty the bladder and repeat this process a couple of times to ensure all loose particles are gone.

4. Use Cleaning Tablets If Your Kit Has Them

If your cleaning kit includes cleaning tablets, follow the instructions on the packaging. Usually, you need to fill the hydration bladder with warm water and add the cleaning tablet.

Allow it to dissolve as directed, and then swish the solution around to ensure it reaches all parts of the bladder. Let it sit for the recommended duration, usually around 15-30 minutes, to help break down any residue or bacteria.

5. Scrub All the Components

Use the appropriate brushes from the cleaning kit to scrub the inside of the hydration bladder, tube, and bite valve. Make sure to reach all corners and crevices. Use a gentle but thorough motion to remove any remaining dirt or contaminants. If your kit includes a long flexible brush, it's especially useful for cleaning the bladder tube.

Remember: Hydration bladders are sensitive. Don't scrub it so hard that you break the material. Walk the line between scrubbing and rubbing.

6. Use Cleaning Solution

Use the specialized cleaning solution or, if you prefer, a mild dish soap. Mix a small amount of the cleaning solution with warm water in the hydration bladder. Swish the solution around to create a soapy mixture. Throw in some natural cleaning ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, and a bit of lemon juice, or add a few drops of unscented household bleach to get rid of odors.

Once your cleaning solution of choice is in the bladder, let that potent concoction sit for a hot second.

7. Clean the Tube and Valve

Attach the appropriate brush to the end of the tube and clean its interior thoroughly by scrubbing and pushing the brush through. For the bite valve, use a small brush to clean both the exterior and interior. Pay close attention to any crevices or areas where dirt might accumulate.

8. Rinse Thoroughly

Get all the soapy suds out of there. You don't want to be drinking that stuff. Several rounds of rinsing are sure to slay any leftover cleaning product.

9. Dry

Ensure your hydration bladder is tinder dry before reassembling. Allow all bladder parts to air dry completely before reassembling the hydration bladder. Hang the bladder and its components on a drying rack or use a towel to prop them open to promote airflow.

Don't put it in direct sunlight. That giant star in the sky is sure to turn your hydration bladder into a melted pile of plastic.

10. Reassemble

Once all components are dry, reassemble the hydration bladder by attaching the reservoir, tube, and bite valve. Make sure all connections are secure. You can now use and store your cleaned hydration bladder until your next adventure!

Precautions When Using a Cleaning Kit

A few words of caution. Some actions are sure to damage and perhaps destroy your hydration bladder. Here are some things to watch out for.

Read the Instructions

Read the instructions for both the cleaning kit and the hydration bladder. Different products have specific guidelines and recommendations for cleaning.

Use Recommended Cleaning Solutions

Now is not the time to use Grandma's Homemade Cleaning Solution with rubbing alcohol. Avoid harsh chemicals and detergents. That stuff eats through human flesh. It would tear through a hydration bladder like a tornado through Kansas.

Use the mild cleaning solutions recommended by the manufacturer.

Avoid Abrasive Scrubbers

Leave the steel wool in your shop. It's great for polishing metal and terrible for cleaning a plastic hydration bladder. Materials like these are going to damage, scratch, and tear all hydration bladder materials.

Also, don't overbrush. Scrubbing too aggressively wears down the interior lining of the bladder. Use gentle but effective motions to clean without causing unnecessary wear and tear.

Replace Damaged Parts

If you find any damaged or worn-out components, such as a leaky bite valve or a cracked reservoir, consider replacing them promptly to maintain the integrity of your hydration system.

Clean in a Well-Ventilated Area

When using cleaning solutions, make sure you're in a well-ventilated area. Avoid inhaling fumes from cleaning agents, and if necessary, wear gloves to protect your skin.

Crux Reservoir Hydration Bladder Cleaning Kit

by CamelBak 

Buy Now
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
11/27/2023 03:31 pm GMT

Recommended Cleaning Kits

Every company that sells a hydration bladder also sells a cleaning kit for their hydration bladder. This makes it hard to recommend the best cleaning kits. The best one for you to get is from the same company that you bought the hydration bladder from.

Take the CamelBak Cleaning kit. It's a well-known brand in the hydration industry. These kits typically include brushes for cleaning the reservoir and the tubes, a hanger, and cleaning tablets. They work best with CamelBak Hydration Bladders.

If you get an Osprey Hydration Bladder, get a cleaning kit from them. If you buy a Nathan Sports Hydration Bladder, get a — you get the gist.

Clean Your Hydration Bladder Often

With all of this talk about cleaning, you might give up and just purchase a water bottle instead of a hydration bladder. Scientifically, this yields no difference from a microbe perspective, according to bacteria experts Andrew Brainard et al.: "There was no statistically significant difference between hydration bladders and water bottles in microbial contamination or colonization. Judging from the available data, outdoor enthusiasts should select their water container based on criteria other than the relative exposure to microbes."

Clean your hydration bladder with a cleaning kit after each use, especially if you've used non-water liquids. For routine water use, maintaining a cleaning schedule of every 1-2 weeks helps prevent bacterial buildup and ensures the bladder's cleanliness. It's a good practice to clean the bladder before storing it long-term, and promptly address any signs of mold, mildew, or odor to ensure peak hygiene and performance.

Keep your hydration bladder in god-like perfection by regularly maintaining it with a cleaning kit. It's the surefire way to keep your portable hydration station functioning, allowing you to stay hydrated and bask in the glories of nature.

Check out My Outdoor Gear for a boatload of tips and tricks on surviving and thriving in The Great Outdoors.

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