Be honest—does your pack smell not so fresh? Here are some tips to clean it out.

hydration backpack

Over time, foul odors and nasty tastes can develop in the bladder of your hydration pack. You know what we’re talking about. You go to fill your bladder and in one whiff, it smells like something crawled in and died in there.

Okay, maybe we’re being a bit dramatic, but after a while your bottles and bladders tend to smell and taste odd. This usually happens when bladder bags are stored incorrectly or cleaned infrequently. It can also happen when they are stored in wet areas or kept sealed for long periods of time with liquid inside.

The best way to keep your bladder bag clean is to rinse it out after every use and let it dry completely. But, we’re all human and sometimes we just forget.

If you’re one of many who need to give your bladder bag a good ol’ rinse, give these little tricks a try.

REI experts suggest the following:

  • Put a teaspoon of bleach and a teaspoon of baking soda in your bottle/bag and fill it with water.
  • Let the it sit overnight.
  • Rinse out completely the next day.
  • Let the bag air dry completely.
  • Don’t place in your hydration packs in dishwasher.

Toby Guillette, an avid outdoor adventure seeker, knows how tricky hydration bags can be to clean. He suggestion is to, “fill the sink with soapy water and scrub the inside.”

Sometimes a little water is stuck in the bladder. When that happens, ball up a paper towel and throw it inside the bladder. Blow some air into it, seal it, and then shake it so the towel moves around inside. Do this for five minutes to help wipe away water spots.

To clean the tubing, get a pipe cleaner and a dowel. Simply squirt a little soap in the tube, fold the pipe cleaner in half, and then put it in the tube. Next, use the dowel to push the pipe cleaner down the hose. Once you get the pipe cleaner to the other side, take it out, and flush the soap out with hot water. Let it dry completely.

For a demo, check out this Youtube video.

And if DIY isn’t your thing, you can purchase a cleaning kit from REI.