How to Clean a Hydration Pack Step-by-Step

You may be thinking, do I really need to clean my hydration pack after every run? It’s not like water can go bad! We get it, you’re tired after a run and don’t have the energy to care for your pack. So you leave your pack unattended because it’s just some water left inside.

But believe us, water can and will go bad. That little bit of water will attract hordes of bacteria and molds inside your pack. And in no time it’ll see an infestation, and all you’ll get is just stale water full of bacteria.

It’s said that prevention is better than cure. Cleaning your pack regularly would be easier than having to clean the nasty moldy parts later. Just learning the basics of how to clean a hydration pack is more than enough to keep you going. Later learning about deep and thorough cleaning will seem easier.

So here is all the information you need to know about cleaning a hydration pack. We’ve also provided some extra tips for convenience.

How to Clean a Hydration Bladder: Basic Steps

You can clean your hydration pack with some simple and easy steps. The method slightly varies depending on which cleaning supplies you’re using at the time. We’ll go to that in a minute. But first, let’s talk about the basic cleaning process:

  • Gather your cleaning solution, brushes, and drying kit
  • Mix hot water with cleaner, then fill the system
  • Soak and drain the bladder, then scrub and rinse the inside
  • Allow your hydration system to air dry

Cleaning Solutions

hydration pack cleaner with baking soda and lemon

You don’t need that many specialized cleaning solutions as most of these are common household items. Any of the following items can do the trick, and you can also combine multiple solutions for extra-strong cleaning.

Mild Dish Soap

The easiest and convenient cleaning solution available. For regular and a light rinse, dish soap is the way to go.

Reservoir Cleaning Tablets

No measurement needed. Just drop one into warm water that’s specially formulated to remove layers. Therefore deposits won’t build up in your hydration system over time.

Denture-Cleaning Tablets

Not explicitly made for a hydration system. However, you can use 1/2 denture-cleaning tablets as an alternative to cleaning tablets. Some people also use them as a cheaper option.

Baking Soda

All-rounder cleaning solution to everything. Just use a couple of teaspoons with warm water and see the magic of cleaning.


Don’t mix up with industrial bleach. For cleaning the hydration pack, you need household bleach, which is milder. If you want a thorough cleaning, you can mix baking soda and bleach together.

Lemon Juice

Useful for neutralizing strong odors. About ¼ cup to one liter of water is enough for cleaning. You can also combine it with baking soda. But beware because the mixture will create a fizzy reaction, fast.

Cleaning Tools

You can buy a cleaning kit specifically for hydration bladders with a variety of price ranges. But if you don’t want to buy any kit, you can easily make your DIY kit.

Cleaning Brushes for Reservoir and Drinking Tube

These help you access all the nooks and crannies of the bladder, tube, and mouthpiece more successfully.

Scrubbing Pad or Scrubbing Brush

These are more available and easy to use tools. But you may not be able to clean the hard-to-reach places thoroughly.

A Knotted Cord

If you’re thinking about how to clean a hydration pack tube, then this is the answer. The cord should be longer than your drinking tube, and the knot should be large enough to fit inside it. Just put the cord inside the tube and pull through it a few times during scrubbing.

Cleaning and Scrubbing Methods

You can use many different methods for cleaning your hydration pack. Some are more suitable for deep cleaning, some for easy rinse. And if you’re into natural cleaning, you can easily use baking soda and lemon juice. Whatever the method, as long as your purpose is served, you’re set.

The Dishwasher

If you’re in a hurry and need a light rinse, you can put your hydration pack in the dishwasher. But this is only applicable to dishwasher-safe packs. So, first, make sure if your hydration pack is dishwasher-safe or not. And even if it is, you should do it carefully and not that often because it’s difficult to scrub and clean thoroughly using a dishwasher.

Bleach & Denture-Cleaning Tablets

It’s a very easy and simple method. You can use specific reservoir-cleaning tablets or denture-cleaning tablets with some warm water. Put 1/2 tablets in the bladder filled with warm water and pull the water to the end of the tube.

Keep the water inside as long as recommended per the instructions. Message the pack and drain the water completely. Again refill with water with a tablespoon of bleach and repeat the process. After that, rinse and dry thoroughly.

In case you don’t have cleaning tablets, you can use bleach instead. Add bleach and lemon juice with warm water and fill the pack with this concoction. Keep the water for a while and rub both inside and outside the pack with this solution. Finally, rinse well with lots and water and properly air dry. This method will thoroughly disinfect your hydration pack.

Baking Soda & Warm Water

It’s the most effective and entirely natural method. Just fill your pack with warm water and two tablespoons of baking soda and let it soak before rinsing. You can add white vinegar to the mix too. Scrub the inside of the pack using a brush for deep cleaning. You can use a thin cord to clean the inside of the drinking tube.

If you’re afraid of harmful chemicals, then you should try this cleaning. Baking soda is a natural cleaner and works better than artificial solutions. Besides, there’s less chance of any damaging side effects for your hydration pack.

Lemon Juice & Freezer

It’s a great trick to keep your pack free from molds and bacteria. Also, keeping it in the freezer makes it safe from fungus.

Fill lemon juice and water up to three-quarters of the pack and seal it up. Let it fully freeze overnight. Later let it thaw and drain the water completely. Rinse and clean thoroughly to avoid the sticky lemon juice residue.

Some people don’t like the plastic taste of the pack or tube, so the lemon water adds a fresh scent and taste. But be careful of how much water you’ve filled inside the bladder because the water will turn into ice in the freezer and can tear the pack because of overcapacity.


Disassemble all the pieces like the tube, reservoir, and bite valve and set them to dry. You can dry the bladder thoroughly with paper towels. Or you can put it on its hanger for air drying. Hang your tube and the valve as well. Some drying aid kits come with reservoir hangers and tube clips. If you don’t have a kit, you can use a clothes hanger and clothespins instead.

However, be absolutely sure your hydration pack is thoroughly dried before putting it in storage because it won’t be a clean pack if it’s a wet pack. Even a small amount of moisture inside can be the start of mold and fungus growth.


  • Always clean or rinse your pack after every use, especially while using sugary drinks
  • Make sure the pack is completely dry when stored
  • Store it in a clean and dry place
  • DO NOT put boiling water into the bladder. It can cause irreparable damage, and you can say goodbye to your guarantee
  • Don’t overfill the bladder when freezing overnight
  • Don’t put the pack directly under the sun, rather use a non-humid, shady location for drying
  • Dismantle all pieces of the hydration pack while cleaning


Cleaning a hydration pack isn’t that difficult of a task when you think about it. If you clean the pack regularly, it’ll become a habit, and it won’t feel like much of a chore. Also, regular cleaning adds longevity to your pack, and you’ll find fewer issues while using it. But if the mold situation is beyond help, just forget about your pack and find yourself a new hydration pack.

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