How To Find An Air Mattress Leak


Air mattresses have gained a lot of popularity in recent years. They are portable and convenient, which makes them a great alternative to permanent beds. They also come in handy when you have a couple of guests over for a night of booze. Not only that; if you are a camping enthusiast and need comfortable support for your sleeping bag, then an air mattress could be all you require.

However, there is almost nothing more frustrating than finding out that your much-cherished airbed is leaking. Repairing the leak may not be difficult, though – the real challenge is spotting it!

Step By Step Guide To Finding An Air Mattress Leak

Locating a leak in an inflatable mattress can be as difficult as looking for a pin in a large pile of hay.  But unless your inflatable has been exposed to pet claws, needles, or other sharp objects, the leak will likely be in stress points or seams. Here is a systematic guide on how to find a leak in an air mattress.

1. Check The Valves

  • You need the bedding and sheets out of the way so you can be able to see any tears, rips, or holes in your air mattress. Move these to a safe place to create enough space for you to move the mattress about.
  • Move your mattress to a spot where you can inflate, flip, and walk around it without distractions. If yours is a camping air mattress for instance, and you are out there in the wilderness, it would be wise to do this inside your tent so that wind or any other noise from the outside doesn’t interfere with your hearing. This is important, as you may want to listen to the hissing sound of air escaping the mattress to know where the leak is. Just make sure there is enough lighting as you will need to see properly to locate holes.
  • Grab your pump and inflate the mattress. Pump as much air as you can but don’t overinflate it, as you could risk bursting your expensive mattress.
  • Check your valves, as these are the most common causes of leaky mattresses. Of course, you should also inspect the rest of the mattress but examining the valves first could save you plenty of time especially when they are the main source of leaks.
  • How to find a leak in an air mattress resulting from valves however will highly depend on how good you are with valve systems. Make certain that the valve plug goes into the valve system as it should and it is inserted properly. If your mattress uses a double locking valve, ensure that the valve system is completely pushed toward the rear stop.
  • If the leak is a result of a faulty valve, your air mattress is unlikely to be patched. However, if there is no problem with the valve and your mattress still leaks, then it is time to look for the hole in the mattress itself.

2. Use Dish Soap

Yup! That liquid dish soap that you only get to think about when there are dirty dishes in the sink can save the day.

  • Put warm water in a spray bottle and add 5 to 6 drops of liquid dish soap. Mix these thoroughly so that you can have soap distributed evenly across the entire mattress. And don’t worry if you do not have a sprinkling bottle – even a soapy wet sponge or bubble soap will get the job done just fine.
  • Make sure that your air mattress is completely inflated. Spray around the valve to see if there will be bubbles formed on the surface. If there is any air escaping through the valve, you will definitely see a fizz around it. Inspect the valve to ensure that it is completely sealed.
  • Spray or wipe the surface of your air mattress starting with the seams. If you see any bubbles, you have spotted your leak. Proceed to the other parts of the fabric to see if there is any fizzing. There will be too much soap on the mattress by the time you are done but don’t you worry; you can easily wipe this off with a wet rag.
  • Once you have identified your leak, mark it. Use a permanent marker or any other type of pen whose ink won’t spread out to the wet surface of your inflatable. It would be a great idea to wipe off the area first, as this will make the spot more clearer.
  • Put your air mattress out to dry. Avoid placing it in direct sunlight as UV rays from the sun could ruin its fabric. Make sure it is completely dry before you begin fixing the deflating situation. Also, once you have repaired the leak, leave the mattress for an hour or so to dry before putting it away to prevent mold and mildew from forming.

3. Inspect The Mattress Visually

Now that you know how to find a hole in an air mattress by examining the valves and using dish soap, let’s find out how you can use your peepers for the same. By now you know the drill – have your air mattress fully inflated.

  • Make sure you have enough light in the room so you can see properly. Begin inspecting the mattress starting from the top, then sides, and lastly the underside. Don’t forget the seams, as it is common for rips to happen in these areas.
  • Place one of your hands on the top of the mattress and move the palm slowly along its surface. You will probably hear air make a hissing sound or feel it brush against your skin as it escapes the mattress. You can dip your hands in cold water before placing them on the mattress. As air escapes, it will increase the rate of evaporation on your skin making it feel cooler. Move your hand slowly because if you do it too fast, you may not feel the subtle sensation of the escaping air.
  • Press the surface of the air mattress with your hands and move your head towards it. Listen for any fizzling sound. Ears are sensitive organs and will feel air escaping from the mattress. Listen more carefully along the seams because as we have just stated, these are a common area for tears and leaks.
  • Again, mark your leak so it can be easier for you to locate when you start patching. Once you have spotted one leak, don’t leave it at that; check the rest of your mattress for more perforations. Do not attempt to do repairs if you are not quite sure of how to go about it. Contact your retailer for instructions, as different fabrics may require different patching processes.

4. Dip Your Mattress In Cold Water

If you don’t succeed in locating your leak using the above methods and have to submerge your mattress, be very careful and read the product manual first to find out if you can dip your specific mattress in water. Remember you will be subjecting it to a lot of water and if the fabric gets completely saturated, it may take forever to dry.

There is more. If the mattress is fully soaked, the seams may start to wear out and any protective coating on the fabric may also start to detach from the fabric. To get started:

  • Half fill the mattress with air. If you dip it in water without inflating it first, you may not get to see any bubbles of air leaving the mattress. Also, inflating it fully may make it quite challenging for you to completely submerge it in a bathtub or pool.
  • Immerse the valve stem in water applying a little pressure around it. The idea is to try to force air out through the valve to see if there are any leaks. If there is a stream of bubbles around the valve, you have found your leak.
  • Submerge the rest of the mattress in water. Do this in parts, each time checking for bubbles from escaping air, especially on the seams. Mark your leak with bright permanent ink to make your repair easier.
  • Leave the mattress in the shade to dry before you begin the repair process.

5. Use Your Garden Hose

This method will require a garden hose and plenty of water. You will also need an outdoor table, and if it is wooden, make sure to cover it with newspapers, a vinyl tablecloth, or a blanket. You really don’t want to deal with a wet wooden table afterward.

  • Connect the garden hose to a water supply and spray the valve area with water (lots of water). Watch keenly to see if there are any bubbles formed around this section, as this could indicate a leak. If any, check the valve to see if it is closed properly.
  • Spray the rest of the mattress with water, concentrating more on the seams. A stream of bubbles will indicate a hole or tear in the mattress.
  • Using a permanent marker, make a mark on the leak and keep looking for more until you are completely satisfied with your findings.
  • Leave the mattress out to dry before the fixing process.

How To Fix A Leak In An Air Mattress


Congratulations! You have nailed the most challenging part of this process. You should get a reward but sadly, you are not done yet. Actually, this next part will get your head spinning (just kidding). Hey, if you know how to repair a tent, then fixing an air mattress will be a cakewalk!

1. Mark Your Leak

We believe you have already done this so we are not going to dwell so much on the basics.

2. Dry Your Mattress Completely

We have mentioned this again. If your mattress is soaked from using any of the wet methods we have discussed before, you can’t afford to skip this step. Leave it out to dry before you proceed to do repairs.

3. Deflate The Mattress

If you don’t get the air out of the mattress before you start fixing the leaks, the escaping air will give you a really hard time that you may not even get the job done. Not pretty at all!

4. Get A Repair Kit

Did your air mattress come with a repair kit? If yes, you are lucky. If not, don’t stress. Even a simple backpacking repair kit will cut it. As long it includes an adhesive tube, you will be fine.

5. Glue It

Apply the adhesive around the leak and wait until it gets a little sticky. This will take about 45 seconds and should feel tacky to the touch. Make sure the glue covers a larger area than the patch you intend to use.

6. Patch It Up

Apply the patching material. This can be clear tape or small stickers precut into rectangles or circles. Just make sure it is smaller than the glued area so that the edges are totally glued down. Using the back of a spatula or spoon, press the patch down so that every part of it gets into contact with the adhesive.

7. Let It Dry

Leave the air mattress in the shade for about 20 minutes for it to dry. Once the patch has completely dried, lay on the mattress with your full weight and you will find out if your hard work has paid off.

Globo Surf Overview

Air mattresses are a fantastic option for people who are seeking comfort on the go. They don’t take too much space and can be stored almost anywhere.

However, as with all inflatables, airbed leaks are bound to happen, but this doesn’t mean that you should toss your bed in the dumpster. The above guide clearly outlines steps on how to find a leak in an air mattress and how to fix it so you can get those comfortable nights back.

More Camping Reviews:


  1. How To Find An Air Mattress Leak Without The Mess,
  2. How To Locate A Tiny Hole In An Air Mattress,
Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!