Air mattresses come in a wide price range based on size, thickness, and durability rating. Whether you have an air mattress for camping, a quick guest bed, or use one as your regular mattress, that inflatable bed is susceptible to punctures and leaks. So, before you wake to a flat mattress and toss the whole thing, learn how to patch the leak to get the most out of your bed.
How to Find an Air Mattress Leak
The first step in patching an air mattress leak is to find it. Many punctures are so small that you cannot find them easily. If the mattress was in use and deflated overnight, remove any bed linens and covers before searching for the leak.
- If you have a swimming pool, submerge the inflated air mattress. Gently squeeze the mattress and look for the bubbles rising to the surface. You've found the area that is leaking.
- Fully inflate the mattress. Spray the surfaces with a garden hose and look for bubbles to appear on the wet surface
- Fully inflate the mattress. Dip a sponge in very soapy water and rub it over the surfaces. Gently squeeze the mattress and watch for soap bubbles to form over the leaky spot.
- Fully inflate the mattress and squeeze it gently. Listen carefully for hissing air and use your hand to feel the air escaping.
- Inspect the air valve to make sure it is fully sealed and closed and has no rips or tears. Note: Most valve problems cannot be repaired and the mattress will need to be replaced.
Once you discover the leak, dry the area with a cloth and mark the spot with a permanent marker. It will be much easier to find the leak when you're ready to apply the patch.
Equipment / Tools
- Permanent marker
- Five-pound weights
- Microfiber cloths
- Isopropyl alcohol
- All-purpose cleaner
- Air mattress patch kit
- Duct tape
- Strong adhesive
- Shower liner
- Bike tire inner tube
Deflate the Mattress
It is much easier to patch an air mattress if it is fully deflated. This leaves a flatter work surface, and the patch will go on more smoothly.
Clean the Area Surrounding the Leak
To achieve a tight seal, the area around the leak must be pristinely clean—no dust, dirt, or grease. If the mattress area of the leak is flocked, use a small piece of sandpaper to remove the fuzzy coating. When the area is smooth, clean it well with a damp lint-free microfiber cloth and a few drops of all-purpose cleaner. Finish cleaning the area with a fresh microfiber cloth dampened with isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. Allow the area to air-dry completely.
Use an Air Mattress Patch Kit
Patch kits are readily available online or from sporting goods stores. These kits contain patches (which may not match the color of your mattress) that can be cut to the correct size and a strong adhesive. Be sure to read the label carefully to make sure that the kit can be used on vinyl, rubber, or both. Follow these steps or the package directions carefully:
- Use a patch size that will generously cover the punctured or torn area. Cut the patch into a round or oval shape to help prevent the edges from catching on bedcovers.
- Apply the adhesive evenly to the punctured area at least 50 percent beyond where you intend to place the patch.
- Remove the protective backing from the patch (one side is sticky) and apply the patch, sticky side down, over the puncture.
- Smooth the patch with your fingers or a coin to remove any air bubbles.
- Place books or weights of five to 10 pounds over the area to hold the patch securely in place.
- Let the patch and adhesives cure for 24 to 48 hours to ensure a strong repair. If the mattress must be used immediately, the patch should hold after drying for a few hours but may not be permanent.
While many air mattress manufacturers include or sell a patch kit, using another patch kit brand or a DIY repair may void the mattress warranty. Some mattress manufacturers encourage owners to return the mattress to them so they can do the repairs for you.
Make a DIY Repair
If you don't have a patch kit, you can make a DIY repair. Some are temporary, while others should last as long as those done with a commercial repair kit.
- Make a patch from a shower curtain liner for plastic or PVC mattresses. Cut a rounded-edge patch at least an inch larger on all sides than the puncture. After you have thoroughly cleaned the problem area, use a strong adhesive like E6000 to adhere the patch to the mattress. Smooth out air bubbles and weigh down with books for at least eight hours.
- For a rubber air mattress, use a bike inner tube to create the patch. Follow the same steps for the application of the patch.
- Use duct tape. In an emergency, duct tape will provide a temporary fix. Be sure the mattress area is clean and dry to get the best seal.
- Use super glue. Small rips and punctures can be temporarily sealed with a few drops of super glue. It won't hold forever, but might get you through the night.