6 Ways To Get Plastic Taste Out Of Your CamelBak Bladder

CamelBak bladders are made of Thermoplastic Polyurethane, or TPU for short. It’s a great material for hydration packs because it’s lightweight and flexible, but still very strong. 

The only real downside is that it sometimes gives your water a strange plastic or chemical taste — which is usually at its worst when your bladder is brand new or you’ve let it sit unused for a long time. 

It’s completely harmless, but far from pleasant.

If it doesn’t really bother you, you can just use your CamelBak as normal. The plastic taste typically fades away slowly on its own through regular use and washing. 

But if you want it gone faster, you have a few options you can try. 

The best way to remove the plastic taste from your CamelBak bladder is to soak it with fresh squeezed lemon juice. Use at least ¼ cup of lemon juice per liter that your bladder holds, fill it the rest of the way with hot water, let it soak for at least 30 minutes, then wash as normal. 

If it doesn’t fully remove the taste, you can also try cleaning tablets, scrubbing with baking soda, soaking with vinegar, or adding a few drops of diluted bleach. 

When I first got my CamelBak, I was hesitant to use it because of the strange taste. But with some trial and error, I learned that it isn’t actually that hard to remove.

Below are the five most effective ways I’ve found to remove the plastic taste from your CamelBak. 

1. Soak With Lemon Juice

My favorite way to remove the plastic taste from a CamelBak bladder is to use fresh squeezed lemon juice. It’s cheap, natural, and in my experience the most effective method on the list. 

All you need is a few lemons (one isn’t going to be nearly enough) and some hot water.

  1. Rinse out your bladder under hot running water. 
  2. Squeeze at least ¼ cup of lemon juice per liter of water that your bladder holds. It’s better to err on the side of too much than not enough. 
  3. Add the lemon juice to your bladder, then fill it the rest of the way with hot water.
  4. Squeeze out any excess air and seal the bladder. 
  5. Holding the bladder over the sink, squeeze the bite valve until water flows through. This ensures that the lemon juice makes contact with all interior surfaces. 
  6. Let it soak for at least half an hour. 
  7. Drain the bladder and wash it as normal

2. Use CamelBak Cleaning Tablets

If CamelBak cleaning tablets didn’t exist, I probably wouldn’t use my CamelBak nearly as often as I do. I use them to give my bladder an easy, hands-free clean after every use

But that’s not their only benefit. They’re also really effective at removing bad tastes. 

  1. Rinse out the bladder with hot running water. 
  2. Fill the reservoir as full as possible with hot water. 
  3. Add one CamelBak cleaning tablet, or 2 if you have a 3 liter reservoir, and seal the bladder. 
  4. Wait about 20 minutes. 
  5. Dump the bladder and wash as normal. 

You can check out this list of the best cleaning tablets for CamelBak bladders or grab some CamelBak branded cleaning tablets using the link below:

CamelBak Cleaning Tablets (8 Pack)

These self dissolving tablets are designed specifically for CamelBak bladders and bottles. They reduce residual taste and odor and leave no odor, film or residue.

Buy Now at Amazon
03/07/2024 11:07 am GMT

3. Use Water Bottle Cleaning Tablets Or Denture Tablets

If you don’t have any CamelBak cleaning tablets, water bottle cleaning tablets (like Bottle Bright) or denture cleaning tablets work nearly just as well — they use many of the same active ingredients, after all. 

If you use denture tablets, make sure they’re unflavored, otherwise you may be stuck with a minty taste in your CamelBak for a few weeks (though that’s probably better than tasting like plastic). 

Bottle Bright Cleaning Tablets (12 Pack)

All natural, safe, free of odor and harmful ingredients. This is perfect for cleaning tumblers and water bottles giving them a fresh look and smell. No scrubbing required. Made in the USA

Buy Now at Amazon
03/07/2024 08:32 am GMT

Follow the steps above, but use an extra tablet or two since other cleaning tablets are a lot smaller than CamelBak tabs.  

Check out my list of the best cleaning tablets for a CamelBak bladder.

4. Use Baking Soda And Vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar are both cheap, natural cleaners that you probably already have laying around the house. But when used together, they’re an even more effective one two punch.  

If you’ve ever mixed them, you probably noticed that the combination immediately starts bubbling and fizzing. What you’re seeing is a complex chemical reaction — the creation of water and carbon dioxide gas.

This natural reaction can help cut through grease, grime, and even stubborn tastes.

  1. Create a paste of baking soda and vinegar. You’re aiming for thin enough to spread but not runny.
  2. Use the paste and a reservoir brush or sponge to thoroughly scrub all interior surfaces of your reservoir. The goal is to scrub while the mixture is still fizzing. If it stops before you’re finished, you may want to make a new batch. 
  3. Scrub the interior of your tube with the paste and a tube cleaning brush. Again, ideally while the mixture is still fizzing. 
  4. Let it sit for about 15 minutes. 
  5. Rinse out the bladder. 
  6. Fill the reservoir with a 50/50 mixture of hot water and distilled white vinegar (more vinegar and less water is okay too). 
  7. Squeeze out any excess air and seal the bladder. 
  8. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes, but preferably overnight. 
  9. Dump, rinse, and wash as normal. 

5. Soak With Diluted Bleach

Bleach is far from my first choice. 

I’d much rather use something natural and less harsh whenever possible. But I can’t deny that it’s pretty effective at removing unwanted tastes from CamelBaks.   

Just make sure you’re heavily diluting the bleach, no undiluted bleach contacts any part of your bladder, and you clean it thoroughly when finished. 

  1. Rinse your CamelBak under hot running water. 
  2. Fill the reservoir as full as possible with hot water. 
  3. Add three or four drops of bleach per liter of water that your CamelBak holds. 
  4. Give your bladder a few shakes. 
  5. Hold the bladder over the sink and squeeze the bite valve until water begins to flow through. 
  6. Let it soak overnight. 
  7. Dump the reservoir and wash the bladder as normal. I like to give it a second wash right after when using bleach, just to be sure it’s all removed.

6. Soak It With Hot Water, Discard and Repeat

One of the simplest and easiest solutions is to simply speed up the natural process of the plasticky smell being removed from your CamelBak.

You do this by filling up the CamelBak bladder completely full with hot water and leaving it to soak. I wouldn't put boiling water in your CamelBak as this could potentially damage it, but hot water from the tab is fine.

  1. Fill up your CamelBak with hot water from the tap and close the lid
  2. Insulate your CamelBak if you want so the water stays warm for longer
  3. Leave it to soak for 12-24 hours to absorb plastic smells and tastes
  4. Discard water
  5. Repeat the process as many times as you need to

I also do this with water bottles to remove their smells and you can also do this process if your CamelBak tastes too much like lemon, vinegar, bleach or the cleaning tablets after you've washed it.