How To Clean A Hydration Pack Plastic Bladder or Reservoir
 
One of the most common questions owners of hydration packs have is how to clean out the plastic bladder and tubing. This is a very straight forward job and just requires a few simple and inexpensive tools to get things properly cleaned.
 
The bottom line: get yourself a Camelbak brand cleaning kit
 
These kits come with two brushes: a "pipe cleaner" style brush attached to a very long and flexible cable. This will reach all the way through your drinking tube from end to end. The second brush is a wide that will get into the all nooks and crannies of your water bladder. Finally, and most importantly it comes with drying attachments that will prop open the filling cap to let the bladder air dry.
 
Simply Hanging the bladder upside-down over a chair without the drying piece never fully gets the bladder dried out. For more details, continue reading.
 
To ensure that your hydration pack or backpack lasts for many trouble free years and to prevent mold growth you will need to clean it regularly. Do you really want to be drinking out of a moldy or scum filled bladder? Probably not.
 
The cleaning process is straight foward. The one drawback to the water reservoirs is that they are a perfect environment for mold growth since the bladder colapses when it's empty preventing it from drying out on it's own like a rigid water bottle.
 
So to tackle and prevent any kind of mold growth you just need to understand that it needs a few things to grow; moisture being the primary one. And if you store your pack in a dark closet for months at a time with the reservoir full of liquid that is a perfect environment to encourage mold growth.
 
So to start out what you need to do is after each time you use your hydration pack simply rinse and thoroughly drain out the water bladder. I like to hang it upside down with the cap off and shake it from time to time to get all the drips and drops on out. For general time to time use this will be sufficient for keeping the water bladder clean and clear.
 
If you used your hydration pack for a beverage other than water, like Cytomax or Gatorade, make sure to thoroughly rinse it out otherwise any leftovers can cause a sticky mess along with mold growth and it will impart a funky taste to the water stored in it the next time you use it.
 
So after each use make sure to rinse and dry the water bladder out completely including the drinking tube or hose. It's best to unscrew the cap and hang the bladder upside down and let it drip completely dry which may take several hours.
 
After several uses or after pulling out your pack from the closet at the start of the season you will want to give the water bladder a good scrubbing using  bottle brushes and some sort of cleaning solution.
 
Camelbak and Platypus both make a series of cleaning kits that come with a set of scrubber bristle brushes to clean out the main reservoir, a long handled hose cleaner to clean inside of the drinking tube, chemical cleaning tablets and a special made rack that props open the bladder for drying. It is possible to use this kit with other brands of hydration packs but you may have problems if the opening is not the proper size for the drying rack.
 
You can make a quick and easy cleaning solution of diluted bleach. One small squirt or half teaspon per full bladder is all you need. Do not go overkill with the cleaning solution especially if using bleach. Mix it up thoroughly and let it sit in the bladder for a good while to kill off any bacteria that may be living in it. Open and close the bite valve on the drinking tube a few times to let some of the solution flow through it.
 
Then unscrew the cap and give the bladder a good scrubbing, making sure to reach into the nooks and corners of the bladder with the brush. Remove the drinking valve and run the tube scrubber brush down through it a few times to clean it out.
 
Next rinse out the bladder several times with fresh water, then hang upside down to dry. If you are using the Camelbak cleaning kit then use the included drying tool to prop open the mouth of the bladder to help it dry out.
 
Once everything is good and dry, assemble it all back together and store in a dry place until the next use.
 
You will also want to remove any food items left in the storage compartments since this usually attracts ants or other undesirable insects that you don't want. Besides, a three year old Cliff bar isn't going to be very appetizing.

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