A man on a bicycle is about to drink from the tube of his water bag

How to clean your hydration pack

Do you know how to properly clean your hydration pack? It’s not difficult, but it’s good to have the right materials and steps to follow. Here’s a quick guide:

Designed specifically for those who practice trail running, mountain biking, and hiking, a hydration system with a drinking tube is an essential piece of equipment for intense activity in the great outdoors. 

What you’ll need:

- Disinfectant: the simplest option is to buy cleaning tablets, but you might also want to try making your own homemade solution using baking powder, lemon juice or white vinegar instead of bleach.
- Some dish soap.
- A brush for the reservoir and a thin brush for the drinking tube.
- A sink.

A woman preparing her hydration system before leaving home on her bike

Homemade solution 

3 tbsp. baking soda per 1 L water, or ¼ cup lemon juice/white vinegar per 1 L water.

Follow these steps:

1. Empty out the reservoir and tube.

2. Fill the reservoir with warm water and add a disinfectant or homemade cleaner (see above), shake well and leave it next to the sink (with the drinking tube in the sink) so the water and cleaning solution can drain out. Let it soak for about 5 minutes if you used a cleaning tablet, or 10 minutes if you used the homemade cleaner.

3. Empty out the bag and fill it with warm water and a few drops of dish soap.

4. Using the brushes, scrub the interior of the bag and the drinking tube.

5. Clean the outside of the tube too.

6. Rinse well to avoid any unpleasant taste, and dry.

Using a clean, dry cloth, wipe your reservoir or let it dry upside down on a hanger. It is important for the bag to stay completely open so that air can circulate. Blow into the tube to drain any excess water before hanging it up to air dry.

Never pack or store a damp hydration system—mold can appear within 24 hours. You could also be left with an unpleasant aftertaste in the reservoir, especially if you’re filling your hydration pack with energy drinks. If that is the case, avoid bacteria and mold build up by cleaning the pack after every use and letting it dry out completely before putting it away.

If you’re only using the pack for drinking water, you can simply dry the system with a cloth and let it hang upside down overnight. Don’t forget to blow into the tube to remove any excess water. If you only fill your hydration pack with water, clean it every other month.

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