Introduction: Paracord CamelBak Hose Cleaner

This instructable shows you how to clean the mildew, mould and accumulated dirt from the plastic hose on your CamelBak or other hydration bladder with nothing but some paracord (and some optional sterilization tablets).

I discovered this neat trick an hour before setting off on a climbing holiday after finding that my CamelBak hose was disgustingly dirty.

Being loathe to spend £20 for a brush on a wire to clean the hose and without time to get one I looked around for something that could clean the hose.

Paracord was the answer! A loose knot in the end of a length of paracord, dropped through the hydration bladder's hose can be drawn through slowly and bring all the gunk with it.

Here's how I've done it ever since.

Step 1: You Will Need....

  • A dirty camelbak or other "hydration bladder" hose
  • Milton tablets or other baby bottle sterilisation tablets. You could also use mild soapy water though not too much or you may leave a bad taste. Definitely don't use bleach.
  • Paracord. About 10cm longer than the hose

Step 2: Soak

Add two Milton tablets to a clean basin full of water. Completely submerge the dirty hose and work all of the bubbles of air out of it. Soak for half an hour.

This softens up all the dried on gunk growing on the inside of the tube.

Don't pour the water away once the hose is soaked, save it for when you're finished cleaning the hose with the paracord then you can steralise the paracord before drying and storing it.

Step 3: Dry

Don't worry too much about this step. Once it's been soaking for a while, remove the tube from the basin and blow through it to remove most of the water. If it's still really wet inside the paracord won't slip down it so easily.


Step 4: Knot and Drop!

Tie a LOOSE knot in one end of your paracord. This is to stop it falling through the tube until we're ready. I have found a figure eight works well.

Drop the non-knotted end down through the hose until it comes out the other end. Make sure you have a neat end on the paracord or it won't make it all the way down the tube! If it gets stuck try holding the end of the paracord in the tube and pulling the length yet to be inserted. This straightens out the cord and helps it slip down. Sucking on the end also helps draw it through.

Move the knot up to the end of the tube and slowly tighten it until you can just push it inside the tube. It should be as a tight a fit as possible. I can feel the bulge of the knot being pulled through the tube when I run it through.

Step 5: Pull It Through

You're now ready for the cleaning to begin! If you have a longer piece of cord than me you could use a piece twice as long and tie the knot in the middle then pull it back and forth instead of re-threading each time.

Slowly draw the knot through the tube by pulling on the other end of the paracord. When it's almost all the way through hold it over the sink; if you've never done this before you'll likely have a lot of black gunk dropping out on your lap otherwise! Mine's cleaned regularly so I can't show you how gross it can get.

Wash off the knot and repeat until you're happy. If the knot wasn't touching all sides of the tube the first pass through you might be able to see stripes down the inside to show the difference between before and after cleaning.

Once clean, rinse and then it's ready to use.

Comments

author
Cann0n made it!(author)2014-02-27

Why not use bleach? The tablets in a Camelbak cleaning kit are basically bleach tablets. It's also the same crap a restaurant dish washer sprays all over the dishes.

You can pick up everything in a bladder cleaning kit for a fraction of the price. I plan on using an old bike brake cable next time I use my hydration pack. I might try this method but I've had a lot of frustrations with running rope in tubes and pipes in the past.

author
Dartania made it!(author)2015-01-20

Dishwasher detergent is not bleach! Bleach is far more harmful than you realize, and something cannot be "basically bleach" without actually being bleach.

author
gtrachel made it!(author)2016-10-05

Camelbak officially recommends using bleach:

http://www.camelbak.com/Sports-Recreation/Support/Product-Care/Cleaning/How-to-clean-your-CamelBak-reservoir.aspx

author
hcostlow made it!(author)2014-03-20

excellent idea. as I have miles upon miles of paracord. I wonder if a paracord fid would help threading the tube any easier

author
XaqFixx made it!(author)2013-12-05

This is really clever, thank you. my hose didn't try properly last use and grew something.

author
badpanda made it!(author)2011-09-13

Nice! I was using the alka seltzer looking things Camelbak sells to clean these, but using baby bottle cleaners will be way cheaper.

author
kbadger made it!(author)2012-09-29

try the non flavored denture tablets and lemon juice trick. may be cheaper than baby bottle cleaners.

author
That+One+Eegit made it!(author)2012-09-08

Would denture cleaning tablets work in place of the milton tablets?

author
kbadger made it!(author)2012-09-29

I have cleaned my Blackhawk bladder by using denture cleaning tablets. All I did was pour in 2 cups of hot tap water in to the bladder and then I dropped in 2 denture tablets (mine have baking soda and they are unflavored) Walmart brand. Do not forget to have this mixture go down the drink tubing and bite valve. This removes the plastic taste.

Swished the tablets back and forth in the bladder until they dissolved. Let the mixture coat the entire inside of the bladder. Drain and then put in fresh tap water from the cold side about 2 cups worth again mixed with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Let soak for 30 minutes. Do not forget the drink tube and bite valve. This removes the nasties that grow inside your bladder.

Then just hang to dry.

author
deaug13 made it!(author)2012-02-03

Couldn't have found your post at a better time. I have been racking my brain so I wouldn't have to spend money on what should be an easy fix. Can't believe I didn't think of paracord before this. That stuff is almost as universal as duct tape.

author
rstupplebeen made it!(author)2011-12-04

I have been using this trick since you posted it and was just trying to clean a long hose from homebrewing and found that running water through the hose helps get the rope through.

author
lalexander made it!(author)2011-09-22

this trick works with gun barrels too, exept i use weedwhacker line and melt the line into a little ball, then thread it thru a bit of cloth patch and pull it thru. the weedwacker line may work with your drinking hose. you might benefit from adding a scrap of cloth to the line when you pull it thru.

author
lalexander made it!(author)2011-09-22

also, you can soak your hose in a more hygenic environment by using an empty wide mouth soda bottle. add the hose and cleaner ect into the bottle with the water and shake it, let it sit, shake it again ect.

you can also avoid introducing germs into your clean hose by swinging it to dry it inside instead of blowing thru it.

to clean the inside of hard to reach areas inside of your reservoir you can use dry rice with a little water and shake it to scour the inside. just wash it out afterward and get all the rice bits out. i use this trick with stainless steel bottles that have had coffee with cream in them. works better than a brush in some cases( specially with the narrow top bottles)

author
Jayefuu made it!(author)2011-09-14

Brilliant idea! Why didn't I think of that :D

author
ourmoneypit made it!(author)2010-06-14

Excellent idea. Hoses are always a challenge, and your section of paracord can be sterilized, too. Thanks!

author
Jayefuu made it!(author)2010-06-14

Thanks, good idea! Added to step 2. :)

author
qwerty29 made it!(author)2010-05-08

How often should you clean your camalbak if you only use water?

author
Jayefuu made it!(author)2010-05-08

I dry mine out if I'm not going to be using it for a while. But otherwise just whenever you can see it getting dirty I guess.

author
qwerty29 made it!(author)2010-05-08

thank you!

author
SurreyShepp made it!(author)2010-04-25

fantastic i dea i was about to go out MTBing over the surrey hills the other day and went to get my camelbak only to find it all gunked up and no kit to clean it. but now i have this way cheers

author
kcls made it!(author)2010-04-11

Great idea. This would work for other tubes as well!

author
Jayefuu made it!(author)2010-04-12

Cheers. What other tubes have you in mind?

author
kcls made it!(author)2010-04-12

Well, living on a boat and all, we have tubes coming out our ears! We have exhaust hoses, water hoses, fuel hoses, drain hoses and there are probably a dozen other that I can't currently think of.

author
meddler made it!(author)2010-04-04

Ah, clever. My cousin wastes so much money "buying" when there is a cheaper alternative. I was wondering just how to clean a hydration tube just the other day, and here you are. Thanks.

author
Jayefuu made it!(author)2010-04-12

Glad to be helpful. Vote if you think it deserves it please!

author
NachoMahma made it!(author)2010-04-09

.  Great idea.

author
Jayefuu made it!(author)2010-04-12

Thanks!

author
%3DSMART%3D made it!(author)2010-04-02

Nice :)
Good idea

author
Jayefuu made it!(author)2010-04-12

Thanks!

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