When you shop through links on our site, we may receive compensation. This educational content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice or consultation.

How to Clean a Camelbak Bladder: Prevent Mold From Growing

Learn how to clean a Camelbak Bladder so you don’t have to worry about mold growing in it.

A Camelbak is a useful type of water bottle to take on a hike. You carry it on your back and use a bite valve to drink whenever you’re thirsty. However, you will need to know how to clean the hydration pack to prevent mold, mildew, and bacteria from growing in your reservoir.

Key Takeaways

  • Clean a Camelbak by disassembling it, washing the pieces in a dishwasher, and air-drying them completely.
  • Prevent mold by cleaning regularly, drying thoroughly, and storing in a freezer between uses.
  • Use cleaning tablets, vinegar, or bleach solutions to deep clean your Camelbak and remove mold or bacteria.
  • Rinse and dry your Camelbak after each use, and deep clean it every 3-4 uses.

Is a Camelbak Dishwasher Safe?

Yes, a Camelbak bladder can go in a dishwasher. You will need to take your Camelbak apart and put the pieces on the top rack of your dishwasher.

How to Clean a Camelbak

Cleaning a Camelbak hydration pack is simple when you use cleaning tablets, a brush, and dish soap.

  • Time: 20-30 minutes + drying time
  • Difficulty: Beginner

What You’ll Need

1. Add Cleaning Tablet

Fill the bladder of your Camelbak with warm water, although you don’t want the water hot enough to burn you. Add the cleaning tablet to your Camelbak and seal it.

Shake the Camelbak.

2. Prep for Soaking

Put the tube of your Camelbak into the sink and lift up the reservoir. Pinch the bite valve open until you see water flowing out of it. This ensures that all parts of the reservoir system have contact with the cleaning solution.

3. Soak Camelbak

Put the Camelbak down and let it soak for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, drain the entire system.

4. Wash Camelbak

Fill the bladder with warm water again and add a squirt of dish soap. Now, remove the bite valve so that you can scrub the interior of the tube with a smaller brush. Make sure to wash the bite valve as well.

Scrub the inside of the reservoir with the larger brush.

5. Rinse Camelbak

Pour the soapy water into the sink. Rinse the Camelbak thoroughly with fresh water.

6. Dry Camelbak

Take the Camelbak apart and place the reservoir on a hanger or set it upright to dry. Also, hang the tube over a clothes hanger or horizontal bar. Put the bite valve aside to dry as well.

You will need to find a non-humid location to dry your Camelbak, so it’s best not to use the bathroom. Give your Camelbak plenty of time to thoroughly dry so that it doesn’t grow mold or mildew inside it.

How to Clean a Camelbak Bladder for the First Time

Before you use your bladder backpack for the first time, you will need to clean it. Don’t worry. You can clean it without a brush.

Clean the bladder by filling the reservoir ½ full with warm water and a squirt of dish soap. Shake the reservoir to mix the water and soap.

Elevate the reservoir over a sink so that the mouthpiece is below the reservoir and in the sink. Pinch the bite valve so that the soapy water can drain through the drink tube, into the bite valve, and down the drain.

Make sure to thoroughly rinse your Camelbak bladder before the first use so that you don’t taste soap in your water.

How to Clean a Camelbak With Vinegar

If you’d prefer not to use cleaning tablets to clean your bladder, an alternative is to clean it with vinegar.

  • Time: 30-40 minutes + drying time
  • Difficulty: Beginner

What You’ll Need

1. Add Baking Soda

Measure ¼ cup of baking soda and ¾ cup of water for every liter the reservoir will hold and add the ingredients to the bladder. Shake the bladder for 30 seconds.

2. Add Vinegar and Shake

Then add ¼ cup of vinegar to the bladder and shake it for 10 seconds. You will need to vent the reservoir as the baking soda and vinegar react and create pressure. Make sure to loosen the cap away from your face to prevent injury.

Shake and vent your bladder another 3 times to make sure the vinegar and baking soda are well mixed.

Quick Tip

You can use lemon juice as an alternative to vinegar if you’d like to avoid the smell or taste of vinegar in your bladder.

3. Expel Air and Soak

Remove as much air as you can from the reservoir by pushing on it. Once you’ve gotten rid of as much air as possible, let the bladder soak for 20 minutes.

4. Rinse and Brush

After the soaking is finished, rinse the bladder 3 times with hot water. Then scrub the inner surface with the bladder brush.

5. Take Apart and Scrub

Finish by taking your bladder apart and giving each piece a good scrubbing to make sure that all of the baking soda and vinegar residue has been removed. Hang your bladder up to dry when you have finished.

Cleaning Camelbak Bladder With Bleach

If you have discovered that you have mold in your Camelbak, you can disinfect it using bleach.

  • Time: Overnight
  • Difficulty: Beginner

What You’ll Need

  • Bleach
  • Water

1. Add Bleach Solution

Fill the bladder with a bleach solution consisting of 2 tablespoons of bleach for every liter of warm water you put in the reservoir.

2. Hold Over Sink

Hold the reservoir over a sink with the straw hanging into the sink. Pinch the bite valve until water flows out of the hose. This means that the bleach solution will disinfect all of your Camelbak.

3. Soak Overnight

Leave your Camelbak to soak with the bleach solution inside of it. It will need to soak overnight to make sure all of the mold, mildew, and bacteria have been killed.

4. Rinse and Dry

In the morning, drain the bleach solution from the reservoir. Rinse the Camelbak thoroughly with warm water and hang it up to dry.

How to Dry a Camelbak

You can let the Camelbak bladder sit open on a flat surface. Make sure that air can get inside the bottle and drinking tube. Wait a couple of days or until all the moisture has evaporated from the inside of the bladder.

You can also use coat hangers to hang the Camelbak up so it can drain while it dries.

Tips For Preventing Mold

It’s important to keep the hydration pack clean and dry to prevent mold from growing inside it. Here are some ways to prevent the growth of mold.

  • Store the Camelbak in the freezer between uses. The cold air will discourage the growth of bacteria.
  • If you fill the reservoir with anything except water, make sure you rinse it with lemon juice.
  • Put a toothpick in the bite valve to help the Camelbak dry out.
  • Take your Camelbak apart and put the pieces on the top rack of the dishwasher to clean it.


How Often Should You Clean a Camelbak?

You should rinse your Camelbak after each use and make sure you allow it to drain and dry completely. Give the hydration pack a deep clean every 3-4 uses.

How Long is Water Good for In a Camelbak?

Make sure you change the water every 24 hours or bacteria may begin growing in the reservoir.

Can You Put Ice In a Camelbak Reservoir?

Yes, you can add ice cubes to the reservoir. Make sure you don’t add too much ice or the entire bag will freeze.

Feedback: Was This Article Helpful?
Thank You For Your Feedback!
Thank You For Your Feedback!
What Did You Like?
What Went Wrong?
Headshot of Sara Dennis

About the Author

Sara Dennis

Sara Dennis is a coffee-loving freelance writer, homeschool blogger, and mom of six kids. In her free time, Sara loves reading books and researching more efficient and effective ways to keep a clean house, homeschool her children, and blog better while making a home for her large family.