This past weekend I ran a trail half-marathon with a dear friend and right away our conversation turned to a running gear-- specifically, how we each clean a water bladder after a race. Prior to the race last weekend, it had been over 6 months since I last used my hydration pack where my husband used it for a Saturday trail race series, and I used it for the Sunday race series. Luckily, my husband sanitized the water bladder after we last used it and it was ready to go for my race! There have been times when I have had to make an emergency pit-stop at Walmart to snag a new insert.
So, how does one clean a water bladder hydration system? Here are a few useful tips my friend and I discussed along the trail…
Invest in a cleaning system for the water bladder (like the one below)— using the tools to scrub the water bladder and valves, then hanging the bladder on the drying rack. However, I had a bit of mold build-up on the inside of a tube and the bladder when I used this method last. Thanks to my friend, I learned an easy remedy to this problem— place a few paper towels inside of the water bladder before placing it into storage. The paper towels will absorb excess moisture and help prevent mold. Be sure to use a cleaning system that fits your hydration system to ensure you do not tear the bladder.
Some use specific cleaning tabs for a deeper cleaning of the hydration system. I use cleaning tablets after every 3 uses of my hydration vest. Follow the directions on the cleaning agent packet, rinse several times, and scrub.