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-   -   how do you clean out Camelback bladders? (http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/forum2/showthread.php?t=18724)

nakman 11-01-2012 11:00 PM

how do you clean out Camelback bladders?
Any good tips for removing all the water, no mold, etc? :confused:

Inukshuk 11-01-2012 11:55 PM

I remove the bite valve, flush with water, and put a piece of paper towel in the fill opening. Newer ones have a much bigger fill cap then the old ones. Every once in a while I let it set overnight with baking soda in the water.

Never had mold. Mold needs food (substrate) so it would not grow in a camelback unless you put something other than water in there.

Bighead 11-02-2012 06:59 AM

Same as above but I use the plastic hanger the Camelbak sells that will keep the bag from collapsing and air dry it.

DaveInDenver 11-02-2012 07:54 AM

Even if all you ever use is tap water they will eventually develop mold, not much you can do to stop it unless you use pure water and that would be pretty lousy to drink as it would lead to dilutional hyponatremia (water poisoning, pure water dilutes your body's electrolytes). Let's be honest, each time you bite the valve the bacteria from your mouth is introduced into the tube and if you fill from your regular drinking water source, this ain't a perfectly antiseptic environment from being splashed, touched and what-not.

Throughout the summer I keep the bladder full, bled of air (turn the bladder upside down and suck the air out) and in the fridge between uses rather than trying to drain and fill it every time, but I use it several days a week and so that can be a royal PITA. Plus your water is always cold. I usually only clean it a couple of times a year.

I clean them with a weak bleach solution. If the growth is bad I use a weak hypochloric acid (HOCl, Clorox bleach) solution. I use a full bladder (100 ounces in my case) of cold water with light capful (roughly 1/2-to-1 tablespoon) of bleach and let it sit overnight. Make sure no one drinks it, although it's weak enough solution that a sip is probably not toxic. If it's just a quick clean I use chlorine dioxide (ClO2, those drop-in purifier tablets you get from REI). These only take a few minutes and will blow up the bladder, so point the bite valve into the sink.

In both cases I rinse with 1 tablespoon of vinegar to neutralize. I mix the vinegar with a couple of cups of cold water and swish it around well, then a couple clean cold water flushes to get out the bleach and vinegar. I rinse with a baking soda & lemon juice dissolved in about a cup of warm water to remove the awful taste and usually will follow with a couple more warm water flushes.

Yeah, I only do this a couple of times a year. But the fridge thing makes it necessary only rarely.

rover67 11-02-2012 09:39 AM

I use mine almost every day in the summer and I never empty it completely unless I suck it dry on a ride. Every once in a while ( like maybe once every two months maybe) I fill it with water and some bleach (or as snoop dog would say "bleeeee- atch") and let it sit overnight like Dave does.

It usually stays funk free.

Also, I typically fill it at least once a week with water from some back country source where I use aquamira (chlorine dioxide) poured directly into the bladder for treatment. not sure if that helps or not. probably not but it's what I do mainly so I don't get the runs.

I used to lei it dry out but found it got funkier that way. not sure why. *shrug*

My new method caters to my laziness.

Oh and also, I usually only put water in mine. On long rides any energy/electrolyte drink from gas stations gets dumped in, and on those I try to flush it out with water when I get back home then proceed as usual.

DaveInDenver 11-02-2012 09:55 AM

Something I figured out about Camelbak bladders, no matter how attractive it might seem, NEVER PUT BEER IN THEM! It seemed so clever at the time.

60wag 11-02-2012 10:49 AM

I used to empty and dry my camelback bladder. I even made a fan arrangement to dry the residual water. Now I just leave it with water in it after use. When I need to use it again, I'll dump the old water and fill with fresh. I figure it reduces whatever might be leaching into the water from the plastic. When It fill it, I suck the air out. I know some mold will grow in the absence of air but so far, I have had no visible growth in the bag and it has been at least three years since I've washed or dried the bag. YRMV.

Jacket 11-02-2012 11:38 AM

We use the mild bleach solution as well. It may seem counter-intuitive to replace your bacteria-infested water with poisonous bleach, but it is a very effective cleaner.

wesintl 11-02-2012 12:08 PM


or just buy a new bladder :P

nakman 11-02-2012 01:11 PM

Cool tips, thanks folks. I may try the fridge thing.. I've been using the same bladder off and on for at least 10 years, and this summer the water tasted a little more funky than I remember. I wouldn't normally care except the kids like to drink from them now too, so which has raised the issue.

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