How Often Should You Clean A CamelBak Bladder?

Properly caring for your CamelBak will make it last longer and could prevent it from making you sick. This means washing it thoroughly, fully drying it between uses, and cleaning it regularly.

But how often do you actually need to clean a CamelBak bladder?

Cleaning your CamelBak after every use minimizes the risk of harmful mold and bacteria growing in your bladder. But if you’re only using it for water, it’s okay to wash it after every two or three uses instead. You still need to rinse and dry (or freeze) it every time regardless. 

If you want to save some time, it’s okay to give your bladder a light cleaning with cleaning tablets routinely and a proper scrub and wash every week or two.

While I don’t wash my CamelBak every time I use it, I’ve developed a system that works for me — a light clean after every use, spot checking for mold, and deeper cleanings every couple of weeks. 

I’ve been following this routine for years and haven’t had any problems with mold or mildew since.

How Often Should You Wash Your CamelBak Bladder?

Regular cleanings can help extend the life of your CamelBak and reduce the risk of it making you sick.

In a perfect world, this means cleaning it after every use.

But as we both know, that’s not always realistic. 

If you’re only using your CamelBak for water (which you probably should be) then it’s okay to just wash it after every two or three uses.

However, you’ll still want to rinse it out and dry it completely or store it in the freezer after you use it so it doesn't grow mold.

If you drink anything other than water from your bladder, clean it every time. No exceptions. 

Other beverages can stain your bladder, gunk up the QuickLink port, and are more likely to cause mold and bacteria and so properly cleaning your CamelBak is required.

A Thorough Wash Isn’t Always Needed

While I could get away with only cleaning my CamelBak after every few uses, I prefer to play it safe. 

But that doesn’t mean I’m scrubbing and washing my CamelBak every day. That just takes too much time. 

Instead, I give my CamelBak a light clean with cleaning tablets after every use, regularly spot check for mold (more on this below), and give it a proper deep clean every week or two. 

Using cleaning tablets is super easy and takes almost no active time. I just soak the bladder while I’m doing something else, then rinse and hang dry it whenever I get back around to it.

Then every week or two, when I have some spare time, I give my bladder a proper clean and scrub with my CamelBak cleaning kit.

CamelBak Crux Cleaning Kit

Features a large brush for the reservoir and a extra long straw brush to clean the drinking tube plus CamelBak cleaning tabs which will help clean away any scum. After cleaning use the reservoir drying kit to easily hang your bladder and get it completely dry.

A must have for CamelBak bladder owners.

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03/07/2024 10:47 am GMT

This routine has kept all three of my CamelBaks mold-free for years, while saving a lot of time and effort along the way.  

Signs That Your CamelBak Needs To Be Cleaned ASAP

No matter how often you clean your CamelBak, it’s important to always be on the lookout for signs of mold and mildew. 

  • Get into the habit of running a finger along the interior of the reservoir after emptying it, especially along the seams. If it feels slimy, it’s time for a deep clean.
  • Before filling your bladder, hold it up to a light and look for dark spots, usually in small patches. Do the same with the tube and bite valve.
  • After a visual check, also give your bladder a smell test. You’ll often be able to smell mold or mildew well before you can see it. If you notice an earthy or musty smell, deep clean the bladder before drinking from it again.
  • Routinely check the underside of the cap for signs of mold, especially around the threads where mold is most likely to go unnoticed.