How to Clean a Water-Bladder

Water bladders are necessities for hikers, bikers, long-distance runners, climbers, and anyone else needing a large amount of water without having to hold a bottle. The bladders are generally 2 liters in size, and made of opaque plastic with a long hose and a rubber bite-end for drinking.

If left to soak without proper cleaning, the bag will become unusable, with mold and other bacteria growing in the wet environment. If left to sit to long, it may become completely unusable, unable to be cleaned thoroughly enough to get rid of the debris.

Cleaning a water bladder efficiently and thoroughly is the best way to ensure your water bladder is always fresh and ready to go when you need it. Taking the time to learn proper technique will save you many failed attempts.

Follow these directions to clean out any water bladder made of plastic or rubber, with or without a removable drinking hose.

1: Never leave water in the bag. Do not leave water in the bag. As soon as you are done with the bag, empty any additional water. This will prevent the water from spilling. After the water is removed, place the bag in the freezer if you cannot clean it immediately. If you can, then proceed to the next step.

2: Unscrew all removable parts from the bladder, including the cap, hose, and bite valve. These will all need to be cleaned independently. Make a solution of warm water and baking soda. Use a toothbrush or rag to wash the parts with the solution. Rinse the hose out carefully, and be sure to clean all parts of the bite valve. Rinse the solution out thoroughly.

3: Once the plastic has all been scrubbed, and the solution completely rinsed out, make a solution of 1 cup water and 1TBSP of lemon juice. Pour the new solution into the bag and shake it thoroughly, making sure to cover all parts of the plastic. You can also let it sit for a small amount of time if you’d like. Once the inside of the bag is rinsed, run the water through the hose. Squeeze the bite valve to allow the water to run out of it. Be sure the mouth piece is rinsed completely, as it is often the part that is cleaned incorrectly.

4: Pour out the solution and rinse the bag. Allow the parts to dry thoroughly before putting the bag back together. Once it is dry, assemble it and store in a cool, dry place. If you don’t want to wait for it to dry, storing it in a freezer is also a viable option.

If you fail to clean out your bag and mold begins to grow, you may be able to clean it out, but it is better not to take the chance. Throw it away and purchase a new one.

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