How to Find A Leak In An Air Mattress

Do you have an air mattress? This inflatable sleeping space is versatile. You can use it in the master’s bedroom or guest room, as well as in recreational vehicles and outdoor camping. It can boost sleep quality by helping relieve back pain. This is in part thanks to its feature that allows you to adjust its firmness.

But the beloved blow-up bed can also be vulnerable. How many times have you been bothered by the question: how to find a leak in an air mattress? Paranoid or not, you have the right to prepare for the worst. Yet, the best models shouldn’t give you a lot of headaches, so you should channel your worry into something more productive.

In this guide, you will learn 5 methods of looking for a leak in an airbed. This is an important skill to develop. An air mattress contains air chambers instead of the traditional comfort and transition layers. So sorting out leaks before they get out of hand can keep the bed’s structural integrity intact. Plus, you get to maximize its benefits

Nothing is more important than drifting off on it in peace–no threat of it deflating and you waking up only to find yourself on the floor.

How to Find A Leak In An Air Mattress

When locating a leak in an air mattress, you can try any of these methods:

1.Inspect the Air Valves

  • Prepare the air mattress. Put it in a place where you can inflate it, flip it, and examine it. This could be your bedroom or living room–as long as the lighting is good and there is enough room to move around. If present, remove all accessories such as bed sheets, pillow, blanket, and mattress topper.
  • Pump air into the mattress. Obviously, you need it to be in its neutral, inflated look. Otherwise, it will be hard to identify the origin of the leak or leaks. You can manually blow air into the item. Or you can set your desired thickness and firmness and let the electric chambers do their job. Visual inspection can start once the bed is filled with the right amount of air.

Be careful not to over-inflate it. Too much air can cause the air mattress to burst.

  • Insert the valve plug into the valve stem. See if the valve stem is locked. To double-check, you should find the stem pressed against the stop. The valve is a common location for leaks. So make sure you begin your search here before anywhere else.

You can tell if there is a leak in the valve after securing its parts in their position and feeling a breeze blow coming out of it. It could be that the stem cannot be sealed completely. In this case, use a thin piece of plastic to cover the leak. Then, proceed to inspect the rest of the air mattress.

How to Find A Leak In An Air Mattress

2. Inspect the Air Mattress

  • The bed should be set up at this point. Start by zooming in toward the air mattress. Just by looking at a few inches away, you can spot damage as small as a pinhole. Train your eyes across the surface, the sides, the bottom, and the seams. Make sure to leave no area unchecked. If you find the source of the leak, mark it. If not, continue with your search.
  • Use your sense of touch to feel your way to the leak. Run your palm across the parts of the bed. Focus on the seams as these are highly susceptible spots for leaks. On top of this, let your hand hover over the said areas. You will be able to feel the air escaping from the mattress where there is puncture or tear. 
  • Whether the second step works or not, you should use your ears as a tool in accomplishing your goal. Listen for escaping air–which your ears can recognize quickly. You would hear it reverberate from the inside. Go through all of the sides to ensure you don’t skip a thing.
  • Mark the hole once you find its location. Then, you can repeat the steps above if you aren’t satisfied with the number of leaks you have found. Maybe there is more. Maybe not. But approach each aspect strategically. Use visual, touch, and hearing consecutively. Go over the dimensions of the bed, from the surface to seams.
  • When you are done marking the leak points, you can start patching them or applying a solution. We will share with you several ways to accomplish this. Read the section called “How to Fix A Leak In An Air Mattress” for a more detailed discussion of your next big step: repairing the cause of the problem.

3. Use A Dish Soap 

  • Add a few drops of dish soap to warm water in a spray bottle. If you don’t have a spray bottle, you can pour the liquid soap on a wet rag instead. Another good alternative would be having the soap get soaked up by a sponge. The goal here is to get enough soap on the air mattress. Remove all sheets and other accessories like in the first method.
  • Again, start with the valve. Spray soapy water toward it and see if bubbles will form. If this happens, it means there is air escaping through the valve. You can then systematically work your way across the mattress. The seams are the next top spot for the leak, so aim at them. Do the same for the rest of the airbed.

Don’t worry if the mattress is becoming damp or wet–or soapy. You can rinse that later. Just continue to cover the entire area and watch out for the bubbles.

  • As you inspect every inch of the bed, use a permanent marker to identify the spots where there are leaks. Put a circle or an X on them. However, you may not be able to mark them properly if the surface is damp or wet. You can replace that with duct tape or the like if you can get any adhesive to stick. 
  • When you are done with this method, you should let the air mattress dry outside. The combination of sunlight and wind can quicken the process–an hour or 2 should be enough–but you can also use a fan if it’s nighttime. Alternatively, grab a hairdryer to remove dampness in spots. Make sure that the air mattress is completely dry to avoid molds and mildew from forming. 

Read our full review of the Best Air Mattresses in 2020 here.

4. Use A Garden Hose

  • Water will again be used in this method. But this time, it will be wetter. Take your mattress outside and lay it on a table. If the table is made of wood, cover the surface with a vinyl cloth, a blanket, or pieces of newspaper. You can also use the deck or patio in lieu of a table. You should avoid getting any wooden support while performing this method.
  • When all is set, direct the stream of water from a garden hose to the valve. As with the earlier steps, you should start with the most likely spot where leaks occur. While the water is running, observe the parts where bubbles are forming. These are the places where the air is passing through.
  • Next, go through the seams and sides of the air mattress–by sides, we mean front and back, left and right, head and foot. Let the stream of water flow over these areas. Use the same drill. Take note of the locations where the bubbles rise. There may be holes and tears in these places.
  • Get a permanent marker to mark these points. As the bed may be super wet, use a towel to wipe your target areas dry. This will allow your circles or Xs to look more visible. You can also use an adhesive to make the hole marks larger once the surface is super dry.
  • Leave the mattress in direct sunlight for an hour or 2. You have to keep sleeping space really dry to prevent molds and mildew from attacking it. You can also point a fan at full blast if you need to bring it back damp inside. Don’t use it while it’s damp.

5. Submerge the Air Mattress

  • This method of checking for tears and holes in your airbed takes water use to the ultimate level. Here, you will need to submerge your mattress in a pool or a bathtub. You have to read the product’s label before proceeding. Some manufacturers do not allow their air mattress models to be submerged in water.
  • If it is not indicated and you’re quite unsure, type your query on Google. If an airbed gets saturated, its materials can deteriorate. This might cause discomfort in the long run. Also, just semi-inflate your mattress for the purposes of this method. Fully inflated objects can be hard to submerge in the bathtub or pool.
  • Now, take the air mattress to a pool or a bathtub. Immerse only the valve area at first. Look for our reliable sign–the formation of bubbles–to determine leak locations. Then, do this slowly but surely with the rest of the mattress parts. Aim small so you can catch the leaky spots.
  • Use the same marking and drying techniques found in the previous 3 methods. Make sure the airbed is 100% dry. You would not want molds and mildews to be your next problem once you have dealt with those pesky leaks.

How to Fix A Leak In An Air Mattress

  • Once you identify the source of the leak, clean the area before fixing the holes or tears. It has to be completely dry to prevent molds and mildew. Wipe it dry with a cloth. Then use a vinyl patch to close the holes. You may also use a bike tire patch if this is what’s available.
  • The patch or similar material must be cut to the right size. Make sure it is larger than the leak to provide space for sealing it with adhesive. Too big won’t cut it. This may not be as effective and can pose some problems later. A ½ inch allowance on each side should be enough. 
  • Depending on the patch you end up using, the application will be different. Some are self-adhesive, such as bike tire patches. Other patches will need separate adhesive for them to work. Pro tip: Apply adhesive from the center toward the corners. The middle part should have more adhesive so the patch can effectively seal the hole and stay put.
  • Just like when putting super glue on anything you want to fix, press the patches on the tears and holes with some pressure. Don’t just do it by hand. Find books, weights, or any heavy objects to place on top of the patch. Leave for around 8 hours. This will allow the adhesive to stick to the surface of your leaky airbed. 

As you did earlier, inspect the patched areas by listening for and feeling air coming out of the fixed areas.


Airbeds are a versatile yet vulnerable type of mattress. If it is deflating on its own or just being a source of discomfort in general, make sure to eliminate the possible causes. A leak–or two or three or more–can be the problem.

You’ve just learned through this guide how to inspect your bed and identify spots where tears and holes are present.