If you’ve ever slept on a leaky air mattress, you know just how uncomfortable that is. It doesn’t fully support your body, so the next day you end up with back pain and feeling like you need more sleep than before you went to bed the previous night.
If you own a leaky mattress, you’re probably partly, or perhaps 89% tempted to throw it away. Before you do that, however, try to fix the problem using any of the methods featured in this guide. If it works, you’ll be saving yourself the cost of a new mattress, which ranges from $30 to a few hundred bucks.
Locating the Leak
The first step in learning how to patch a mattress is learning how to find the leak. Punctures in an air mattress are hard to find with the naked eye, and the process isn’t exactly intuitive either. Thankfully, there are three surefire ways to locate that pesky leak.
Listen for Escaping Air
If you’re one of those people whose hearing is crazy good, you might be able to find the leak by listening for escaping air. Punctures usually occur on the bottom side of the mattress, so you’ll want to start there.
With the bottom side facing up, gently press on the mattress and wait until you hear a hissing sound. Make sure to check every side and section of the mattress. If you still don’t hear anything, turn the mattress bottom side down and try again. Don’t forget to mark the leak with a permanent marker when you find it.
Feel It With Your Hand
If you can’t hear anything at all, you’ll need to use your hands to feel the leak. Dampen your hands so you feel a cool rush of air when they’re hovering over the leak. Starting from the bottom side, move your hands around and across the surface, covering every inch of it. Your hands shouldn’t be touching the surface, otherwise, you’ll have trouble feeling the leak.
Find It Using Soap Bubbles
If you still can’t find the puncture after all that, it’s time to head over to the kitchen. Fill a small spray bottle with water and add a few drops of dish soap. Shake the bottle, then spray the solution on a tiny section of the mattress. If there’s a leak, soap bubbles should emerge from it.
Redo this step on different sections of the mattress until you find the leak. Don’t forget to mark the puncture when you find it. You can also use a soapy sponge if you can’t find a spray bottle.
How to Temporarily Fix Your Leaky Air Mattress
Permanent fixes are always better, but sometimes you have no choice but to save them for another day. Temporary fixes are fast and easy, and can usually be done using items you probably already have at home. If you’re strapped for time, you can try any of the methods below until you’re ready to permanently patch your mattress.
This is the first thing that you should grab when you suspect a leak in your air mattress and you don’t have a patch kit on hand. You need to cut a piece big enough to cover the hole, and there should be some space around it for maximum adhesion. Know that the tape will lose its hold over time, so you’ll have to keep redoing this method until you’re able to do a more permanent fix.
You’ll need superglue in cases where a puncture has two edges that need to be held together. Apply the glue in a stitch-like pattern so you’re kind of sewing the edges together then let it dry. Repeat the process to cover the puncture and the area around it. Let the glue dry completely before testing if it fixed the leak.
If you don’t have any of the items above, but do have a selection of nail polish, you’re in luck. It’s a little unusual, but nail polish can patch a mattress, although it most likely will only hold up for the next few uses.
Clean and degrease the surface first, then apply a layer of nail polish on the puncture. You will need to reapply several times to build a film that prevents the air inside from leaking out. Let the nail polish dry completely before you move the air mattress since moving it could break the seal.
How to Permanently Fix the Leak
It’s easy to forget to do a permanent fix once you’ve temporarily patched your mattress, but it’s very important that you remember to do this. If not patched permanently, the puncture in your mattress could grow bigger.
To do this, you’ll need a patch kit or marine goop glue.
Preparing for the Repair
You need to do a few more things before you can start fixing the leak. It’s tedious and it’s more work, but if you skip these steps, there’s a chance the patch will fail.
Step 1: Clean the Area
After marking the source of the leak, clean the spot and the area around it so the patch doesn’t come off. Use a lint-free rag sprayed with a diluted all-purpose cleaner. Let it dry completely, then degrease it with nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol.
Step 2: Deflate the Mattress
Deflate the mattress and try to get as much air as you can out of it so the patch can form a tight seal. If the mattress isn’t deflated completely, you’ll probably need to fix that same leak again.
Step 3: Scrub if Flocked
If your mattress has a textured surface, or if the puncture is on the flocked side of the mattress, you’re going to need to sand the area so that the patch will adhere. Try not to rub too hard, and use soft sandpaper so it doesn’t cause any tears.
Patching Your Mattress
Now that you’ve located the leak and cleaned the surface, it’s time to learn how to patch an air mattress.
Using a Patch Kit
Sometimes, air mattresses come with their own patch kit. If yours came with it and you still have it, just follow the directions provided to fix the leak. But don’t fret if you don’t have a patch kit—you can easily buy them online. This TEAR-AID Vinyl Repair Kit is a bestseller on Amazon.
Make Your Own Patch Kit
The good thing about patching an air mattress is that you don’t really need to buy a patch kit. You can simply make your own if you’re feeling up to it. All you need are glue and a thin material made of plastic or rubber, such as a pool liner, a shower liner, or a piece of tarp.
Step 1: Prepare the Material
Cut a large enough piece of your chosen material to cover the puncture plus an inch of space around it.
Step 2: Glue the Patch
Degrease the surface of the puncture, then apply glue to the patch. Depending on what glue you’re using, you might need to apply it on both the patch and the surface of the mattress. If you’re using hot glue, make sure the glue gun doesn’t touch the mattress, or it’ll melt the surface.
Step 3: Stick and Hold the Patch Down
Once you’ve applied the glue, press the patch down on the area you’re patching, making sure to flatten air bubbles. Hold the patch down for a few minutes to help it stick. You might need to put a heavy object on top of the patched surface for eight hours to ensure it adheres properly. Let the glue dry overnight before testing it.
Using Marine Goop Glue
You might not need a patch kit if you happen to have Marine Goop lying around somewhere. Also known as the Amazing Goop, it’s waterproof and UV-resistant, and it’s a much stronger adhesive than super glue. Before you begin, make sure to put on a pair of gloves to protect your hands.
You’ll need to sand the surface since this glue adheres better on a rougher surface. But don’t go overboard otherwise you might end up with more punctures in your mattress. Apply an even layer of goop on the surface, spreading it at least half an inch away from the leak. Let it dry overnight.
Testing the Patch
Once the adhesive has completely dried, it’s time to test if the patch works. Inflate the mattress and sprinkle a little bit of baby powder onto the patched surface. If the powder is sent flying when you press down on the mattress, you’ll have to redo the patch.
Fixing a puncture in an air mattress isn’t exactly fun, but if you put in the effort, you won’t need to buy a new mattress. And if you patch every leak that occurs, you may not even need to buy a mattress ever again. Think about all the mattresses you’re saving from being dumped in growing landfills, which is hazardous to the neighboring communities.