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How to Clean a Hydration Bladder + BōnDry Review

How to Clean a Hydration Bladder

Hydration Packs are great for staying hydrated on your adventures, but can be a bit obnoxious when it comes time to maintain them. Getting them clean and dry for storage seems to be the most challenging for me. I am constantly guilty of leaving water in my bladder for far too long. And how many bladders does one family of four need? Well we have too many of all different sizes and brands which means at any given time there is likely water sitting in one of them.

If you fall into that, try some of these recommendations for keeping a clean reservoir.

If you are here for the BōnDry review, click here to jump on down.

Don’t Forget to Empty Your Hydration Bladder

Moisture and warmth is the enemy. A nicely air purged reservoir that is full of water will probably be OK for a few days (I’ve been known to drink water that’s been in there for a few weeks and still survived), but a reservoir that has been emptied and tossed in a heap is a recipe for disaster and inviting mold and mildew to settle in.

I am sooooo guilty of this. I am always leaving water in my bladders. Unless you are going to be using it in the next day, it’s recommended that you dump out the water and give it a quick rinse and put to dry.

Did you put in it something besides water?

If you have had something in your bladder besides water (like an electrolyte drink, etc.) then it is really important that you at least dump out and rinse your bladder as soon as you are done. Aside from the sugars inviting mold to grow, the residue can lead to staining, leave behind flavor or just make your bladder look funky.

How to clean a hydration bladder - dirty and clean bladders being washed
The one on the left was subject to a lot of Tailwind and got stained.

The Lazy Way – Freeze It Empty

If you aren’t feeling like cleaning out your bladder, dump out the water, blow the water out the hose and toss in your freezer. The freezing temps will keep any mildew or bacteria from growing. The next time you need it, grab it out, fill it up and you are ready to go.

How to Clean a Hydration Bladder

Gather Your Supplies

You likely have everything you need to clean your bladder at home, but having some of the specialized tools can make it a little easier.

  • Cleaning Brush – You can get a specific brush, but most bottle brushes (water bottle or baby bottle) will also do the trick.
  • Cleaning Tabs – These can be helpful if you have a funk in your bladder, just drop one in, watch it fizz and clean out.
  • Soap – A mild dish soap will do the trick.
  • Hose Brush – This is the one piece I really recommend having on hand. There is no other easy way to clean the inside of the hose. You can use a knotted cord in place, but the brush is easier and scrubs a little better.
  • Sponge or scouring pad – nothing special here and you probably already have it at home.

Clean Hydration Bladder Tips

Most often hot (not boiling) water and a mild soap with a little scrubbing will do the trick. If you are using a cleaning tab, use the tab first following the instructions with it and then clean with soap and water.

  1. Fill the reservoir half full with some warm water and mild soap. Shake a little to mix.
  2. Use your bottle brush to scrub the inside.
  3. Lift up your reservoir so the bite valve is below where the tube attaches. Then pinch the bite valve to allow the soapy water to flow through. You can also just remove the bite valve from the hose and the water will run out.
  4. Use your hose brush to clean the hose.
  5. Rinse thoroughly, and then rinse again to make sure all the soap is out, other wise you might be tasting suds on your next use.
  6. Fill and use again, or dry and store in a way that no moisture is trapped inside. (Drying tips below)

How to Clean CamelBak Bladder

CamelBak reservoirs have a wide opening that makes cleaning pretty easy. The tricky part with these is when drying. If you hang them upside down as recommended, you always get a little pool of water below the opening. Making sure that air can flow in is very important to not getting mildew. Here is a quick cleaning video by CamelBak.

How to Clean Osprey Water Bladder

An awesome feature of most of the HyrdaPak reservoirs (which is what Osprey uses) is that they are reversible, which makes cleaning and drying much easier. Another awesome feature, they are top rack dishwasher safe. Many brands partner with HydraPak (more than just Osprey), so just look for the dishwasher symbol on yours to make sure it is dishwasher safe.

HydraPak recommends using Bottle Bright tabs to help clean your reservoir. Check out the rest of the HyrdraPak tips here.

Hydration Pack Funk Busters

We’ve all been there, so here are some easy ways to try and get that funk out of your bladder.

  • Bleach is used to to disinfect. Fill your reservoir with water and add a few drops of bleach per liter of volume. Swirl around, fill the hose, and let sit over night. Wash and rinse well.
  • Lemon juice is used to neutralize odors. A ¼ cup of lemon juice per liter of volume.
  • Baking soda is an all-around cleaner that can help get out pesky odors. Platypus recommends (per liter volume) adding ¼ cup of baking soda to ¾ cups of water per liter of volume in your reservoir.
  • Cleaning tabs like Bottle Bright or CamelBak Cleaning Tabs.
  • Denture cleaning tablets can also be used as an inexpensive way to clean.
Mildew… everyone’s worst nightmare. This bite valve will likely just get replaced since this model is difficult to clean.

How to Dry Hydration Bladder

In order to keep your bladder sparkling clean, you need to keep it moisture free when not in use. A quick towel dry after cleaning will help your bladder dry faster. Figure out what works with your bladder but here are a few ways to get your bladder dry:

  • BōnDry!
  • Put a whisk or spatula in it
  • Put it over your paper towel holder
  • Use that baby bottle rack
  • Use a modified hanger
  • Put it on your boot dryer (preferably no heat setting)
  • Stuff it full of paper towel
  • Use a bladder dryer/hanger
This particular CamelBak came with little tabs built-in that flip out to keep the bladder open.

Whatever you do, don’t store it with moisture in it, make sure it is 100% dry before you toss it in that bin!


BōnDry Hydration Pack Dryer Review

All about BōnDry

BōnDry by Fossil Outdoor is a small startup from Phoenix, AZ looking to simplify hydration pack drying. The BōnDry itself is a flexible piece of wicking material that you put in your bladder to aid in drying.

They come in three sizes: the original BōnDry is 17.5″ x 3.5″ x .25″, the WishBōn is 17.5″ x 3.5″ x .25″ with an 12″ inseam and the LilBōn is 14″ x 1.75″ x .25″.

How it works

BōnDry works by absorbing moisture into itself, wicking up and evaporating out the opening. It should absorb most of the moisture within an hour or so and then get to the wicking to the opening. Total drying time will vary, but most often is completely dry in a day or two. The amount of BōnDry exposed to air and the humidity levels play a big part in the drying time.

What we love about BōnDry

USA made and sustainable

It is made right here in the USA in Phoenix, Arizona. BōnDry also uses sustainably sourced plant fibers and recycled bottles to make their drying products. The Biopreferred label means that it has been verified as sustainably sourced and biodegradable.

Easy to use and clean

BōnDry is super easy to use. Just open up the bladder, slide it in and voila. If for some reason you need to wash the BōnDry, just toss it in the washing machine on the cold delicate cycle.

The BōnDry is compatible with pretty much any reservoir out there, the material is soft and flexible, so you can bend to fit too. If you have a reservoir with a divider in it, you can either buy the WishBōn or cut between the stitching to make your own.

What we are not so crazy about…

So far I am really liking this product, the only thing is I wish it had a little more height to it to aid in quicker drying, but sometimes I just bend it a little after the initial water absorption.

How to Use BōnDry

It’s as simple as 1, 2, 3.

  1. Rinse your reservoir.
  2. Insert BōnDry.
  3. Put it away. Store it on a shelf or put it back in your backpack (open of course).

Where to buy BōnDry

You can get the original BōnDry on amazon.com or you can purchase all their products direct from their website.

Keep that bladder dry (when not in use)

At the end of the day, all you need to remember is to not store your bladder with ANY moisture in it. Grab some BōnDrys to help out with that and you will be all set.

Here are some other quick tips for you…

  • Keep spare parts like bite valves, on hand incase you have one crack or get filled with mildew.
  • Don’t throw away your bladder if it has a small hole or tear, we have successfully repaired a few of ours with Aquaseal!
  • Pop the bite valves off for better hose drying and just toss them in the bladder so they don’t go missing.

Do you have any unique ways you dry or store your bladders?

Related Articles:

Hydration Pack Maintenance and BōnDry Review

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