Hydration is an important part of any physical activity, whether you’re going on a short hike or a long backpacking trip. Carrying enough water to keep your body hydrated is essential, but lugging around a heavy water bottle can be a pain. Not only do they take up valuable space in your backpack, but they can also add a lot of extra weight.
This is where hydration packs come in. Their versatile and compact design is perfect for outdoor activities, which is why they’re slowly but surely climbing to the top of the list of essential hiking and camping gear. They’re super versatile and spill-proof, making them ideal for on-the-go hydration. But like any other piece of gear, they require a little bit of maintenance to keep them in tip-top shape.
When to Clean a Hydration Pack?
Whenever you carry a convenient hydration pack with you for a longer period of time, it will imminently collect dirt, sweat, and other small particles. If you don’t clean it on a regular basis, those particles will start to build up, making the bladder difficult to dry out and more susceptible to mold and mildew growth.
You should also give your pack a thorough cleaning after every couple of uses, or whenever it starts to smell a bit funky. Some go so far as to clean their pack after every use, but that might be a bit overkill unless you’re using it in extremely dirty or dusty conditions.
Depending on how often you use your hydration pack, a good rule of thumb is to give it a deep cleanse every month or two. In this way, you can make sure that your pack stays clean and bacteria-free, and prevent any long-term damage.
What Cleaning Products Can You Use?
Even though mild dish soap and water can do the trick for most packs, you might want to invest in some specialised cleaning supplies to get the job done right. By doing this, you can rest assured that your hydration pack is as clean as possible.
Reservoir Cleaning Tablets
The reservoir is the part of the pack that holds the water, so you should pay special attention to cleaning this area. You can find reservoir cleaning tablets at most sporting goods stores. They’re designed specifically for cleaning hydration bladders, and they’re usually very effective.
Simply drop one or two of these tablets into the reservoir, add some water, and let it sit for a few hours before draining and rinsing it out. You might need to repeat this process a few times to get rid of all the dirt and grime, but it’s usually worth the extra effort.
Denture Cleaning Tablets
You probably wouldn’t think of this as your first choice for cleaning a hydration bag, but denture cleaning tablets can actually be quite effective. Since they’re designed to remove stubborn stains and bacteria from teeth, they can do the same for your container.
You can use these in much the same way as reservoir cleaning tablets. Just add one or two to the reservoir, fill it with water, and let it simmer for a few hours. After that, just empty and rinse the reservoir as usual.
This natural cleanser is a potent tool in the fight against dirty reservoirs. It’s great for removing stains and odours, and it’s also fairly inexpensive and accessible.
Depending on the size of your pack, you’ll need to use anywhere from ¼ to 1 cup of baking soda. Pour it into the bladder using warm water, mix it around, and keep it there for a few hours. After that, just wash it out with clean water until the baking soda taste is gone.
Similar to baking soda, lemon juice is another natural cleanser that can be used to clean hydration bags. It’s great for getting rid of stubborn stains, and it also has a refreshing scent.
To use lemon juice, simply mix it with warm water in a 1:1 ratio and sip it into the reservoir. Leave it be for as long as you want, then wash it down with clean water until you’re satisfied with the results.
This might be a bit of an extreme measure, but household bleach can actually produce admirable results when cleaning the bladder. Just be sure to use it in moderation, as too much bleach can damage the reservoir.
To avoid this, mix 1 teaspoon of bleach with 1 litre of water. Pour this mixture into the reservoir, swish it around, and give it a few hours to work its magic. After that, just rinse the bladder out with clean water and allow it to air dry.
All things considered, cleaning and maintaining hydration packs is a fairly simple and straightforward process. Just make sure you use the right supplies, and you should have no problem keeping your pack clean and bacteria-free.