How To Clean A CamelBak Bladder in 5 Steps [With Video]

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CamelBak bladders are an amazing way to stay hydrated and conveniently sit inside a small rucksack, or they can even go in your bikepacking bags.

However, if you don’t know how to clean a CamelBak bladder, you can end up drinking unclean, foul-tasting water – and could even make yourself unwell.

Unlike bottles that you can just throw into a dishwasher, CamelBak bladders require a little more attention to be properly cleaned. In this article on how to clean a CamelBak bladder, we’ll be covering:

  • Why Is It So Important That You Keep A CamelBak Bladder Clean?
  • How Often Should You Be Cleaning A CamelBak?
  • How Long Does A CamelBak Bladder Last?
  • How To Clean A CamelBak Bladder in 5 Steps
  • Robbie’s Video Guide: How To Clean A CamelBak Bladder

Let’s dive into how to clean a CamelBak bladder!

How To Clean A CamelBak Bladder: Title Image

Why Is It So Important To Keep The CamelBak Bladder Clean?

#1. Hygiene 

The first and most important reason why you need to stay on top of cleaning your CamelBak bladder is for hygiene.

If you don’t keep on top of the cleaning, then it’s going to be unhygienic and a breeding ground for bacteria.

#2. Longevity

The more regularly you clean your CamelBak bladder, the longer it will last.

If you neglect it too much and it doesn’t get cleaned often, then you will need to replace it sooner than you might think.

#3. Smell

Cycling bottles, after a lot of use, start to smell.

A CamelBak is the same, just much worse. If you don’t clean it often, it will start to stink. This makes your water taste awful and makes you want to stop drinking from it altogether and you end up bonking.

#4. Looks

If you don’t regularly clean your CamelBak, then it can change color and go a horrible green.

This is built-up mold and bacteria, and even with very deep cleaning, this can end up staying.

A Camelbak on the handlebars of a mountain bike.

How Often Should You Clean A CamelBak?

This is a question we are often asked by many of our readers.

Based on my experience as an endurance cyclist, here’s what I recommend for the best result.

After Every Ride

We highly recommend after every ride, you give the CamelBak a quick rinse-out.

This is just filling it with fresh water and emptying it out. If you just have water in, this isn’t always vital, but any carbohydrate powder you have to.

Monthly Deep Clean

Additionally, we recommend a monthly deep clean on top of the after-ride cleans.

This is the clean we are going to be discussing today. This is using some basic chemicals to ensure there will be no mold build-up and to keep it the correct color.

All the kit required for cleaning a Camelbak. Dishwashing liquid, sponge, bladder tablets, sink, bladder cleaning kit, and the bladder itself.

How To Clean A CamelBak Bladder in 5 Steps

When it comes to cleaning a CamelBak, it’s important to do a proper job to ensure that you keep it as clean and hygienic as possible.

Here’s what you’re going to need:

  • Water
  • Tub
  • Dishwashing Soap 
  • Cleaning Solution (Baking Soda, Cleaning Tablet)
  • Brush, Sponge, or Cloth
  • Hanger (Optional)
  • CamelBak Cleaning Kit (Optional)

Step #1. Remove The Bladder From The Backpack

A Camelbak bladder being taken out the rucksack.

The first step is to remove the bladder from the rucksack itself.

This is typically very easy to do, but you might need to get creative when it comes to getting the hose away from the rucksack. Some people tend to wash the rucksack on a cold wash now to ensure it’s clean, but you don’t need to unless it’s visibly dirty.

Step #2. Internal Cleaning

Putting bladder tablet into a Camelbak bladder.

Next, I like to do what we call internal cleaning. This is when we flush the inside of the bladder with our cleaning solution.

Start by filling the bladder with water, then squeeze the end of the drinking nozzle and let the water start coming through the hose and nozzle.

Once you see the tube and bladder are both completely full, add a bladder cleaning tablet (you can also use a couple of spoonfuls of baking soda). Both solutions work well, but out of the two, the proper cleaning tablets are better.

Then, shake the bladder up to get the cleaning solution all around the inside, and then put it up to hang or lay it flat in the tub. Leave it here for roughly 20 to 30 minutes.

Step #3. Dismantle The Bladder

A Camelbak bladder dismantled.

Now, we need to empty and dismantle the bladder.

For the best cleaning, everything should be separate, and it’s important to remove all the cleaning solution. First, unclip the hose from the bladder. On some models, you might need to pull it off with some force.

Next, remove the drinking nozzle from the hose. This usually will need pulling off, but you might find some are just a small clip. Once these are all apart, put them into the tub.

Step #4. Clean The Bladder Parts

A Camelbak bladder being washed with a sponge.

My method is to fill the tub up with warm water and add some dishwasher soap. Mix it all up to get some bubbles in there, clean all of the solution out of the bladder, and scrub the inside to get it as clean as possible.

Cleaning the CamelBak hose itself is challenging without a bladder cleaning kit. The method I recommend is to put the hose under a warm tap and let the water rush through quickly. 

If you have a CamelBak cleaning kit, then now is the time to use it. They typically come with cleaning brushes that give you the ability to get into all the tiny parts, such as the hose and the nozzle. 

Step #5. Rinse And Let Dry

A Camelbak bladder being hung.

Next, rinse all the cleaning products off.

Don’t be shy when doing this. We highly recommend using the same method that we did in Step 2 with plain water to flush it all out.

Now, put the CamelBak together again, ensuring everything is nice and tight. The last thing you want is a leak in your bladder – not only will you have no water on your ride, but you will also be soaked!

Once clean, hang it out to dry, or simply add some water and go out for a bike ride. Before you use the CamelBak bladder again, I recommend just giving it a test to ensure it doesn’t taste like dishwashing soap. If it does, give it another rinse.

You should now have a fresh, clean CamelBak, ready to hit the road!

A Camelbak bladder after a wash.

How Long Does A CamelBak Bladder Last?

It’s very good to stay on top of keeping your CamelBak bladder clean, but it’s also important to understand they do have a shelf life, and it’s good to replace them every so often to ensure you get the best out of them.

When it comes to overall longevity, CamelBak has a lifetime warranty on many of its products, so it’s worth holding onto proof of purchase in case something goes wrong down the line.

In our opinion, we recommend just cleaning regularly and looking out for signs of wear or odor that you can’t get rid of. This might never happen, or it might take as little as a few years, depending on how much the CamelBak is used and how well it’s kept clean.

At that point, it’s worth considering changing. Up until that point, you shouldn’t worry!

Robbie’s Video Guide: How To Clean A CamelBak Bladder

Check out the BikeTips YouTube Channel here for walk-through bike maintenance guides and more!

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Robbie has traveled the globe as an endurance athlete and bikepacker, breaking world records and competing in international ultra-cycling events such as the BikingMan series and the Transcontinental Race. He's also worked as an ambassador for some of the industry's leading names, including Shimano and Ritchey. If Robbie's not on a bike, he's either fixing them or out walking with his dog!

2 thoughts on “How To Clean A CamelBak Bladder in 5 Steps [With Video]”

  1. I’m absolutely HORRIFIED by your next-to-last paragraph!

    Does a “lifetime guarantee” on a product that may only last 2 or 3 years (or max 5 to 7) imply that there’s a markedly shortened life expectancy among bicycle riders?
    Just wonderin’

    Best regards,


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