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When using a CamelBak (or other hydration bladder system), it is easy for mold to grow if the bladder is left sitting with water in it. What is the best way to avoid mold (or other nasties) growing inside in between trips?

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Have you considering accepting any of these answers? Is there something you feel is missing that you're holding out for? – Russell Steen Feb 7 '12 at 21:57
@RussellSteen: Nope, just forgot. Accepted. – jrdioko Feb 7 '12 at 22:03
Thank you for following up. – Russell Steen Feb 7 '12 at 22:10
up vote 15 down vote accepted

CamelBak have a great Care & Tips section on their website. Summarising their recommendations:

Keep it clean and dry when not in use. If mould develops:

  • Use hot water and two tablespoons of baking soda or bleach
  • Leave for about 30 minutes
  • Wash with hot water and mild soap
  • Air dry
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This does work and extends the life well, but I feel it just delays the inevitable. I usually replace the bladder after 3 or 4 years when the bleach just isn't keeping it at bay any more. – Rory Alsop Jan 28 '12 at 11:12
I would add to make sure to hang it where water will run out and it will dry. You can put the bite valves through most dishwashers to get them thoroughly clean as well. – Russell Steen Feb 3 '12 at 3:22

Leave the filler cap open to allow any water residue inside to evaporate and so the humidity level of the air inside the bladder matches that of the air in the environment around it

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This is basically what I've done for nearly 20 years with my platypus. May also want to take off the bite-valve on the straw so the straw has airflow through it. – Pulsehead Jan 28 '12 at 11:28

I clean it out then leave it to dry for a day or two. But you can never seem to get all of the water out of the hose, so I keep mine in the freezer. At -18 the mold can't grow.

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I used a blow dryer on low setting to dry the bag and tub, and a paper towel pouch (twist tie close) with rice - I figure if it gets moisture out of a cell phone and salt - it ought to work for a Camelback. I also save the little silica gel packets that come in vitamin bottles and new shoe boxes and may try those.

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I would suggest:

  • leaving the cap open, letting it air dry,
  • then sealing it up and keeping it out of direct sunlight in a dark area (perhaps inside your pack).
  • When you are ready to use it again, rinse it a few times - run some water through the hose as well.
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This is why I like the pouches that have a zip-lock bottom as well as a cap on the top - it makes it a lot easier to clean the inside and leave it open to let it fully dry.

My friend also swore by leaving the pouch in the freezer when not in use - this would obviously slow down mould growth considerably in between uses.

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I get food-grade 3% hydrogen peroxide (NOT 35%) from my health-food/ vitamin store and put a cap-ful in any water container then fill it to the brim. It works really well to kill microbes of all kinds by oxygenating the water, and you can drink it in that low of a concentration (it is used in commercial food preparation, and some people believe that drinking oxygenated water is actually good for you as well).

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I just get it mostly dry and then pop it in the freezer until the next use. This keeps anything from growing and takes 30 seconds and no cost.

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