Hydration systems and bladders are favorites among avid hikers, runners, and cyclists. There’s no question that water packs are essential, but without regular cleanings, bacteria and mold can invade and taint any water inside.
So how do you keep your hydration system clean and dry between adventures?
Luckily, it only takes a few steps to dry and clean your hydration system.
Step 1: Disassemble the bladder
Cleaning the pieces of your hydration pack individually allows you to pay closer attention to each nook and cranny. Start by emptying the bladder completely, ensuring there’s no water left inside. Then, open the bladder’s cap and remove the bite valve and drinking tube.
Step 2: Rinse the bladder
Next, fill a sink or tub with warm water with a couple drops of mild dish soap. Fill the bladder with that soapy water and stir it around so soap reaches each corner. Use any brushes or tools that came with your hydration pack and scrub the inside of the bladder gently. Rinse the bladder thoroughly with clean, clear water to remove any soapy residue.
Step 3: Cleaning tabs are your friends
Many hydration systems have compatible tablets that work with their bladders. There are cleaning tablets or solutions designed for your specific brand of hydration system.
Follow the instructions on the packaging. Some tablets or bladders have different requirements with varied times and dosages.
Tablets usually require you to fill the bladder back up with warm water, drop the tablet in, and let it sit. Once that time is up, rinse everything thoroughly and remove any residue from the cleaning solution.
Step 4: Clean the bite valve and drinking tube
Cleaning the bite valve and drinking tube follow similar steps to cleaning and drying your hydration bladder. With a soft brush and warm, soapy water, scrub each piece to remove any debris and build-up. Once you’re finished, rinse both components well with clean water.
Step 5: Air dry your hydration system
Once you’ve finished cleaning and rinsing your hydration system, it’s time to sit everything out to dry. Shake off any excess water from each piece and hang the bladder upside down in a well-ventilated area. The bladder should be opened wide enough to let circulating air inside for faster drying. If possible, avoid direct sunlight to prevent damaging the bladder’s material.
To dry smaller components like the bite valve and drinking tube, use a small towel or cleaning rod with an absorbent cloth like microfiber wrapped around it. Insert the towel or cleaning rod into the tube slowly twist and push it through to absorb any moisture. Like the bladder, hang the drinking tube to air dry.
Some users place a large spoon or whisk inside the bladder to ensure air reaches the entire inside space of the bladder.
Step 6: Reassemble and store
Once your hydration pack is completely dry, reassemble everything. Attach the bite valve and drinking tube to the bladder, ensuring everything is tightly connected. Store your hydration pack in a cool, dry place to keep it in good condition until your next use.
Properly cleaning and drying your portable hydration systems is crucial to ensure a long life for outdoor adventures. These simple steps will keep the water inside clean and free of mold and bacteria so you can enjoy your favorite activities to the fullest.