You have got to stay hydrated out there and with various manufacturers incorporating hydration bladders into their backpacks, this is easy to do. One thing that commonly gets ignored with the hydration bladders however is the need to clean them. Even if you are only filling your hydration reservoir with clean water, the bladder itself can easily accumulate mold or bacteria but the awkward shape of the device makes it difficult to clean. Here is some advice to help keep you drinking clean water.
- Get some mild dish soap, bleach, a cleaning brush and some cordage. (Some companies will even include dissolvable cleaning tablets with the reservoir when you purchase it.)
- Fill the bladder with warm water, a cleaning tablet, or if it didn’t come with a cleaning tablet, use 5 drops of bleach per liter of water. Let this soak for 20 minutes before draining through the tube/bite valve.
- After you have drained everything, refill the bladder with warm water and dish soap this time. Scrub the interior of the reservoir with a scrub brush before thoroughly rinsing again. Get a piece of cordage that is longer than the hose and after removing the bite valve, pull the cordage through the tube a few times to remove any mold that could of accumulated there.
- After this, the most important step is to dry it completely! Separate all parts (the bladder from the tube and the bite valve.) You need to keep air flowing through the bladder as it dries. To help with this, you can use a thin metal hanger or even stuff the bladder with paper towels. Whatever you do, do not put it away wet or your time cleaning will have been wasted as mold will form.
- Another helpful tip that I have found is if I am regularly using the bladder with a week or so between uses, I will store it in the freezer. That way I do not need to clean it between every use and mold will not form in the freezing temperatures.
I hope that helps and remember, stay hydrated out there but don’t drink through a hydration bladder that is filled with bacteria!
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