How to Clean A CamelBak Hose Without A Tube Brush

Washing a CamelBak’s hose is an important but often ignored part of keeping a CamelBak clean and mold-free. And unfortunately, without the right tools for the job, it can be a little tricky.

Just like cleaning the reservoir, the interior of the tube needs to be scrubbed to be truly clean. The most effective way to do so is to use a tube cleaning brush. 

But what should you do if you don’t have a tube cleaning brush? Is there a way to thoroughly clean a CamelBak hose without one?

To properly wash a CamelBak’s hose without a tube cleaning brush, rinse and soak it as normal, then use dish soap and a knotted length of paracord (or thin nylon rope) to scrub its interior. 

Thread a long strand of paracord through the tube, at least twice its length plus one foot. Tie a knot in the middle of the paracord, making it about the same width as the hose. Add soap and warm water, then slide the knot through the tube several times, making sure it’s a tight enough fit to provide friction. 

It’s still probably a good idea to buy a tube brush if you’re able. They’re not very expensive, do a better job of cleaning, and using the paracord trick is sort of a pain.

A CamelBak cleaning kit comes with one, along with a soft-bristled reservoir brush, a couple cleaning tablets, and a reservoir hanger — everything you need to thoroughly clean and dry your CamelBak. 

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But either way, with a little creativity, it’s still very possible to scrub the inside of your CamelBak’s hose without a brush.  

Things You’ll Need

  • A cleaning solution — CamelBak cleaning tablets work best, though water bottle cleaning tablets, denture tablets, distilled white vinegar, baking soda, and bleach will also do the trick.
  • A large bowl. 
  • Paracord or thin nylon rope. 
  • Mild dish soap. 
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Step 1: Remove The Tube And Rinse

Disconnect your CamelBak’s tube by holding the release and sliding it out. Pull off the mouthpiece and set aside.

Rinse out the tube by letting hot running water flow through it for 15 to 20 seconds.

Step 2: Let It Soak

Place the tube in a large bowl, folding it into a loose overhand knot so it fits comfortably inside. 

Fill the bowl with your cleaner of choice (I like to use vinegar as it's a good way to kill mold), tipping one end of the hose up to let any air out and to let it fill with cleaner. 

It’s important that the entire tube stay submerged throughout the entire soak. If it’s floating to the top, lay a heavy dish or plate on top.

Soak for at least 20-30 minutes or up to overnight if your tube is really funky.  

Depending on the size of the bowl and the amount of water that you use, the amount of cleaner needed will vary.

  • CamelBak Tablets: use one tablet per 1.5 liters of water. 
  • Water bottle cleaning tablets: use one tablet per liter of water. 
  • Denture tablets: use two tablets per liter of water.
  • Baking soda: use about ¼ cup baking soda per cup of water. 
  • Distilled white vinegar: use a 50/50 ratio of hot water to vinegar. If you find mold in your CamelBak, undiluted vinegar is your best bet because vinegar is a very effective antifungal agent. 
  • Bleach: use 3 or 4 drops per liter of water. Rinse extra thoroughly if using bleach. 

Step 3: Scrub The Interior Of The Hose With Knotted Paracord

This is where we’d normally use dish soap and a tube brush to scrub the interior of the hose. But if you don’t have a tube brush on hand, you can use a length of paracord (or thin nylon rope) instead. 

  1. Cut a strand of paracord twice the length of your CamelBak’s tube plus at least one foot. If it’s too short, you’ll have to string it through multiple times. 
  2. Thread the paracord through the hose, stopping when it's sticking a few inches out of the opposite end. 
  3. Tie a knot in the longer end of the paracord, a few inches from the tube. The knot should be about the same width as the hose. If it’s too large, it won’t slide through. If it’s too small, it won't provide enough friction to clean well. 
  4. Squeeze a dab of dish soap on the knot and wet it. Let some water run through the length of the tube as well. 
  5. Pull the knot through the hose slowly, until it pops out the opposite end. Repeat the process in the opposite direction (sort of like flossing) a few times, until you’re sure the inside of your hose has been scrubbed thoroughly.

Step 4: Rinse And Air Dry

Rinse the tube under warm running water, making sure that all remaining soap is removed.

Hang the tube to air dry it, leaving the mouthpiece off until both are completely dry.