Is there anything more disgusting than consuming chunks of mold and muddy water from a hydration bladder that has been kept for several weeks? Probably, we don’t want to think about it. How to Clean a Hydration Bladder?
The hydration bladder comes with many merits for its users, but it can also be quite fickle in terms of hygiene. Let one sit for a few weeks without cleaning, and what would grow inside may be worse than you could have imagined.
If you are one of the super fitness fans that mix electrolyte drinks, carbohydrate brewing, and protein infusion, the frequency of this infestation in your hydration bladder will be doubled. Thus, it’s best to clean your hydration bladder regularly.
How to clean a hydration pack bladder
Cleaning your hydration bladder before first use is a high activity that shouldn’t be missed. Also, as earlier highlighted, it is not advisable to leave the water in the hydration pack bladder. After having made a route, so it is best to empty it once you have finished riding for the day. If you don’t do this, in the long run, the hydration pack bladder will develop odours. The water would also taste strange. After having used it a few times, it is advisable to clean it from time to time. Making water flow and later letting it dry, as well as preventing traces of water from remaining in the system. Here are a few steps you can use:
Cleaning with soap and water
It is as simple as emptying the hydration bladder of any remaining isotonic drink. Then filling between a quarter and a half capacity and shaking it vigorously. You can add a little liquid soap (the one used to wash the dishes is good), cover it again with the stopper and shake vigorously for a few seconds so that the entire interior is well cleaned.
Depending on the amount of dirt, you can repeat the procedure several times, as many times as necessary until it is spotless.
If you are very conscientious with hygiene, you can add a few drops of bleach (sodium hypochlorite) to kill all bacteria remains. In this case, you will have to make enough rinses to eliminate all the chlorine flavour.
Vinegar and bicarbonate
If the liquid soap method doesn’t convince you, then you might like the chemical method. For this, you will need to clean the hydration bladder with vinegar and baking soda. It is the same bicarbonate as that commonly used for heavy digestions, and you can buy it at any food store.
Fill the hydration bladder with three-quarters of the water and add a good splash of vinegar and a good tablespoon of baking soda. Don’t be scared if you see the mixture start to boil and produce some foam. All of that is perfectly normal.
This method may take a long time, depending on the amount of dirt. If the hydration bladder is very dirty, you can put less water and more vinegar and bicarbonate mixture.
Clean with a hydration bladder cleaning kit
On the market, there are cleaning kits for hydration packs that consist of one or more brushes capable of being inserted through the tube to clean every last corner. These kits also include hangers or supports that allow us to keep the bag open while it dries to prevent moisture from remaining in it.
Change the hydration bladder for a new one
Without a doubt, this is the most severe method of all, and also the most effective and radical. The hydration bladder is a reasonably cheap product, and some cycling stores usually give them out to clients who have made a good purchase. You can check our guide on the best hydration bladder. However, changing it is not always a viable option. Unless the hydration bladder is very old, it does not sound very ecological to be generating waste in the environment by replacing it. Also, the hydration bladder may be expensive in some regions, and thus it would not be feasible to be changing it after a few times of usage.
Use of special hygiene tablets
This refers to pills that you have to put inside the hydration bladder while following the manufacturer’s instructions. Many of these hygiene tablets have special cleaning abilities and leave no flavor after disinfecting the hydration bladder. Some similar products, and usually perfectly valid, are the pills and products used in disinfecting and cleaning baby products such as bottles or pacifiers. To use them here, you can follow the same guidelines as if your hydration bladder were a baby item.
All the hydration bladder cleaning methods outlined above are quite good and less complicated. However, most people usually forget the shutoff valve. Without a doubt, this is the part where more dirt is stored. That is always forgotten by most cleaning methods.
In the case of the hydration bladder, the stop valve is usually not removable. So you can choose to change it from time to time for the spare parts that are available in the cycling market.
How to dry the hydration bladder
- Take out all the water
- Remove the tube from the hydration bladder
- Hang it with the open end facing downwards, and stick in an empty paper towel tube to keep it properly open
- You can as well use a coat hanger, but make sure none of its sharp edges which can destroy the hydration bladder is exposed
- Furthermore, after a successful cleaning session and you desire to dry your hydration bladder, do not leave it in the sun for a long time, since the plastic part can be damaged and will be unusable.
Homemade tricks to clean your hydration bladder
If you do not have advanced cleaning products such as hygiene tablets, a homemade trick is to wash the hydration bladder. A mixture of vinegar and lemon juice or water with a few drops of bleach, thus killing the bacteria that have accumulated inside it. In this case, we must be cautious with the quantities and rinse thoroughly. So that the flavour does not remain, in addition to drying and ventilating the bag, tube, and mouthpiece well.
Another effective way to get rid of bacteria and fungus in the hydration bladder is to freeze it when you get home after completing the route. To do this, you have to empty the remaining water well and put it in the freezer until the next day you desire to use it. Of course, remember to take it out a little before leaving the house so that it thaws and softens. When frozen, the bag may break if you intend to break the ice that remains inside.
How to store the hydration bladder after cleaning
If you already have your hydration bladder clean as a whistle, it is time to prepare it for storage. Pending the next outing. As earlier highlighted, if you plan on going out the next day. It is best to prepare a new load of water or isotonic drink in the hydration bladder and leave it in the fridge. This way, you will avoid the proliferation of microorganisms. While it will also be more appetizing, especially if it is summer.
However, if you do not know very well when next you are going to use the hydration bladder. It is a perfect trick to rinse it and put it in the freezer when it has been well-drained. In this way, any remaining bacteria or mold that has remained in the far corners will be inhibited by the cold. It’s also proper to reiterate that it is practically possible to eliminate 100% of any remaining microbes. That may have remained in the hydration bladder if the freezing process is done correctly.
In conclusion, hydration bladders are great for outdoor activities such as biking and hiking.
They also save you from the stress of moving with large water bottles. However, if not cleaned properly, they can quickly become the host of unpleasant bacterial overgrowth. Fortunately, with the help of some items such as those highlighted above.
You can make sure you quench your thirst without ingesting mold, bacteria, or dirty water. If you put drinks other than water in the hydration bladder, such as isotonic drinks or salts.
It is even more vital that you wash it more frequently. Since these types of drinks usually leave traces on the walls of the hydration bladder and the tube. They can be permanently stuck in it if not washed properly.
Furthermore, for the cleaning of your hydration bladder, it is recommended that mild soap or cleaning chemicals are used. Except in very extreme cases, since you run the risk of leaving the aroma and flavor of this on the walls of the hydration bladder.
It is also not convenient to put the hydration bladder, and the tube in the washing machine since this will surely spoil it and any liquid put in it afterward will taste like laundry soap. For deeper cleaning, the ways and tricks earlier highlighted can help you effectively.