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How to clean and care for a water bladder

Updated: Nov 10, 2022

Caring and cleaning your water bladder (or a Camelbak) is something important you need to do every time you use it but many people do not know how to properly clean it and care for it each time they use it. Failing to clean your bladder regularly before each use can start to cause problems such as illness from the still water and bacteria that builds up within the system. In this guide we will walk you through the very simple steps of cleaning your water bladder, how to best care for it, and when it's time to look at replacing your bladder.

How to clean your bladder.

The steps to clean your hiking water bladder is simple and are as follows:


Step One: Take your bladder, open the seal and fill with warm, not quite hot water.


Step Two: Place a cleaning tablet or your own home cleaning products in the water and shake for approximately one minute.


Step Three: Raise the bladder up, allowing the drinking tube to rest within the kitchen sink.


Step Four: Pinch the cap on the end allowing a small amount of the liquid to run out of the end of the tube.


Step Five: Let sit for 30 minutes and then drain the bladder by removing the rubber cap on the end of the tube.


Step Six: Fill bladder once again with a mix of the same warm water and kitchen dishwashing soap.


Step Seven: Thoroughly clean the bladder, tube and cap with using kitchen cleaning tools; it is best to remove all pieces and clean individually.


Step Eight: Rinse the entire system and allow to air dry as individual pieces.


Step Nine: Reassemble the water bladder and fill with cold tap water ready to use for your next adventure.


How do I best care for my bladder?

The best way for you to care for your bladder is to follow these cleaning steps after every use. This avoids the negative side effects that we discuss below and makes sure you will be able to use it for many more years to come with out issues or problems.

Why do you actually need to clean your bladder?

Well there are many reasons you need to clean your water bladder every time you use it and these include the risks of illness that failing to clean this drinking system can cause. Alongside the risks of illness and bacteria build up there is also the risk of unpleasant tastes forming within your bladder which can be almost impossible to get rid of after they have taken hold. If these unpleasant tastes take hold try flushing your bladder out with your standard anti-bacterial mouthwash, if this doesn't work you may want to look at a new bladder.

How often should I replace my bladder?

Even if your bladder is properly cared for and is cleaned regularly, continuous use can put considerable wear and tear on the system which is almost unavoidable. After about three years the seals become weaker and drinking tube can become disformed, other side effects that may signal the need for a new bladder is discolouration of the bladders plastic or reduced flow from the tube. These issues start to become most prevalent after about 3 years which is about the age most people make the decision to replace their water bladder for a new one.

So hopefully now you have a better understanding on how to clean and care for you water bladder next time you use it, simply cleaning your bladder after every use can extend its life span greatly and allow you to get much more out of it while making it safer to drink from.

Written by Josh Welch



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