How to Clean Your Water Bottles and Bladders


Whether you’ve got a brand new bottle with a taste you can’t shake, or you want to know how to clean, store, and maintain your hydration vessel of choice – we’ve got all the tips and tricks to keep your bottle, bladder, reservoir or silicone cup in good condition.

When you’ve got a brand spanking new bottle or bladder, sometimes they can have a funny plastic taste or odour – which is perfectly normal and will often disappear after the first few uses. But, if you’d like to eliminate that bad taste or odour straight away, there are a few household items you can grab such as vinegar or baking soda, which both act as natural disinfectants and can help speed up that process.

There is an ideal way to go about getting rid of any tastes or smells in your plastic or metal solid bottles, collapsible soft bottles, bladders, reservoirs or silicone cups.

How to get rid of taste and odour in your drink bottle or bladder

1. Scrub

Start by giving your new water bottle or reservoir a good scrub with warm water and detergent, then wipe it dry.

2. Soak

Fill it with hot water and add a few teaspoons of either vinegar or baking/bi-carb soda, mix it through and allow it to soak overnight.

3. Repeat 

In the morning, empty and give it another good clean with warm soapy water and you should be good to go.

Getting rid of odour and taste in your bottle

Vinegar and baking soda are a deadly combination when it comes to bacteria, or unpleasant smells and flavours.

Caring for your water bottle

If you’ve splurged on a speccy new bottle, and you’re hoping to keep it from looking and smelling like a dog’s breakfast, here are a few tips you can try:

Wash it out – every time!

The best way to maintain any bottle, bladder or silicone cup is to rinse it out with warm water after each use and to let it air dry completely.

Scrub it 

On a frequent basis, you should look to undertake a more thorough clean by using a brush with hot water and detergent. Give your bottle, bladder or silicone cup a good scrub including the inside, outside and all fittings and attachments of the bottle or bladder. Scrubbing is the important part, as it’ll physically remove any visible or invisible bacteria.

Open it up

Most odour and taste problems occur when bottles are stored in wet areas or kept sealed for long periods of time with liquid inside which allows bacteria to develop – so you should try to drain and air out your bottle after each use.

Check the cleaning instructions

Some bottles and cups can also be placed in dishwashers which makes caring for them a little more convenient. Bladders and reservoirs however, should be kept out of the dishwasher to make sure they stay in good condition.

Clean your water bottle or bladder regularly

There are so many household items that you can use to de-funk your dirty bottle or bladder. 

Best ways to clean your water bottle

If your water reservoir develops a funky taste or odour (or if you just want to give it an exceptional clean), there are a range of options you can try:

1. Hot Water & Detergent

Wash the bottle or bladder using a bottle brush with hot water and detergent. The bottle brush physically removes the funk from the water bottle with scrubbing action. Ensure you rinse it well after cleaning and then allow it to air dry.

2. Baking/Bi-Carb Soda

Add a few heaped teaspoons of baking/bi-carb soda into the bottle, bladder, or cup and fill with hot water before allowing it to soak for a few hours. After the soak, wash vigorously with a bottle brush, hot water and detergent, then rinse and allow to air dry.

3. Vinegar 

Fill with hot water, add a few teaspoons of regular white vinegar and let it soak overnight. (Make sure if you’ve used Baking Soda previously that is has been removed otherwise you’ll have a DIY volcano explosion going on). In the morning wash with a bottle brush, hot water and detergent then rinse and allow to air dry. The bottle will have a slight vinegar odour for the first few minutes, but that will quickly dissipate and the water bottle should smell fresh and clean.

4. Anti-Bacterial Mouthwash 

Place 2-3 capfuls of anti-bacterial mouthwash per litre of bottle or bladder capacity and shake for 5 minutes. Then empty the bottle or bladder and wash with a bottle brush, hot water and detergent before rinsing and allowing to air dry.

5. Camelbak Cleaning Tabs

These tabs are really easy to use, first you wash with a bottle brush, hot water and detergent and then rinse before filling bottle or bladder ? with water. Add 1 x Cleaning Tab and shake until dissolved then let stand for 5 minutes. Lastly, empty and then rinse.

6. Cleaning Kits

Many hydration brands provide cleaning kits which come with precise tools to get into all the nooks and crannies where household brushes can’t reach.

7. Freeze it

If you’re still not satisfied with your cleaning job, pop your bottle or bladder into the freezer to kill off any remaining bacteria.

Storing your water bottle or bladder

Don’t negate all that elbow grease, make sure you take the extra steps to prevent mould and bacteria.

Storing your water bottle

Now you’ve done all the hard work removing the gunk and taste from your bottle and bladder, how do you keep it clean?

1. Drain the water 

When it comes to keeping your bladder clean, the best thing to do is to store it dry, and avoid leaving water in it for extended periods of time. No matter what cleaning method you use, you should always give your bottle a thorough rinse with warm clean water as soon as you finish. Then allow it to air dry completely.

2. Use a rack to dry it first

Air drying in a well-ventilated area is the most hygienic way to ensure that your bottle, bladder or cup doesn’t develop bacteria, odours and/or mould. It doesn’t hurt to take extra steps including using racks for bottles and cups, or hooks for bladders so that you can dry them upside down. Once you are sure that your bottle, bladder or cup (plus the lid) is 100% dry, seal with the lid and pack it down before placing it in a dry environment.

3. Get rid of any air

Take extra care with bladders and flexible/collapsible bottles and cups to ensure that no area is air locked with water. You can prevent this by shaking, separating, or using a brace such as the Camelback Reservoir Dryer throughout the drying process.

4. Keep it in the freezer

If you want to go ‘next level’ with your bottle, bladder or cup – consider storing it in the freezer, which will not only assist in restricting bacteria developing but it will also be cold for when you go to use it on the next occasion.

Is your hydration system looking and smelling a bit worse for wear? Do you have any other methods for keeping your reservoir, bladder or bottle in good nick? Sound off in the comments below.

About the writer...

Ben Trewren

Currently a resident gear-expert here at Snowys, the outdoors has always been Ben’s second home. His adventures have taken him to almost every continent in the world. He’s hiked in the United States, mountain biked in Cambodia, 4WD through South Africa, kayaked in Laos, skydived at Uluru, white water rafted in New Zealand and much more. However, nothing beats home where he’s guided groups across Australia through the Red Centre, along the Great Ocean Rd and onto Kangaroo Island for many years before joining Snowys. Ben continues to involve himself in the outdoors through volunteering with Operation Flinders and Scouts Australia. While many say Ben has a poorly developed sense of fear and no idea of the odds against him, he puts his adventures down to the planning and preparation of his gear that he’s bought from Snowys.

Joined back in November, 2016

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