How to Patch an Air Mattress

How to Patch an Air Mattress

We’ve all been there: sound asleep, happily dreaming of puppies and kittens, when suddenly, your butt is face to face with the rock-hard floor because your friend doesn’t know how to patch an air mattress. Let’s fix that! Follow along below to learn of the various methods for patching up an air mattress so you can keep your friends’ butts off the floor.

If you find the patch kit that your airbag came with, that’s the best and most long-term solution. It might even have instructions for how to patch an air mattress. A high-quality alternative to a patch kit would be a bike tire patch kit. But, if you need a quick fix, we have some alternate solutions to tell you about.

Step 1: Prepare the Mattress and Find the Leak

You will need to find the source of the leak. Occasionally, new mattresses will deflate if they haven’t expanded yet entirely. Another reason for the deflation could be temperature changes (the AC coming in and out). To check, inflate the mattress again, and see if it’s still deflating or if you can hear any air coming out of it.

If temperature or expansion isn’t the case, you will need to search for the hole or leak. Fill up the air mattress and close the valve as usual. Pay close attention to the bottom of the mattress because that’s the most commonplace for holes. Listen for any air leaking out of the mattress; it may sound like a snake, so beware. There could be multiple holes, so look closely.

You can also dampen your fingers and run them a few inches from the mattress to see if you feel any air coming out. If you’re lucky, the process will stop there, and you can easily mark the leak and move on. 

If you do not hear any leaking from the mattress, you will need to put soapy water in a spray bottle and spray the mattress, then look for any foam or bubbles when you press down. The bubbles are an indication of the leak. Once you locate the leak, mark it with a pen or marker and let the air mattress dry.

Preparing the Mattress

Next, deflate the air mattress entirely because any leftover air inside might impact the quality of the seal. Then, clean the area with an all-purpose cleaner to rid of any dirt or dust around the hole, and wait for it to dry completely. Additionally, use soft sandpaper on the leak to make sure the adhesive sticks properly. Make sure not to sand too hard, or else you could damage the mattress.

Step 2: Apply the Patch

Step 2: Apply the Patch

This step is the fun part when you get to decide which patch is right for you. Once again, remember that these patches are a great temporary solution, but you will eventually want a mattress patch kit or bike tire patch for the best results.

DIY Patch

You can use any thin plastic material for this option. Some examples are a piece of a shower curtain, a tarp, or a pool liner.

  1. Be sure to cut the plastic piece to the correct size. The patch should completely cover the leak with .5 to 1 inches left around each side.
  2. For extra measures, use rubbing alcohol and a cotton ball to clean the spot once more.
  3. Next, apply the adhesive. Rubber cement, contact cement, super glue, or gorilla glue will work. Apply the adhesive generously to the patch, specifically covering the middle. 
  4. It’s finally time to place the patch. Place the patch glue/cement side down onto the leak, being sure to get the most adhesive right on the hole. Rub the patch in a circular motion to make sure no air bubbles are inside. 
  5. Finally, place about 10 pounds of weight on top of the patch for 8 hours to ensure that it sticks and will hold. 

Duct Tape

Duct tape is a temporary but very convenient solution since most households have some duct tape lying around. The key to this step is to prepare the area for maximum sticking power. Without prepping the area, duct tape will not work as well at sealing the leak.

  1. Cut a piece of tape long enough to cover the hole and be sure there are about .5 to 1 inches of space left covering each side.
  2. Follow all the steps from “Preparing the Mattress” under Step 1 carefully – clean, and use sandpaper gently.
  3. Place the duct tape on the leak and rub in a circular motion for about a minute, making sure it’s on tight.


Much like the duct tape option, superglue is temporary, but people are more likely to have superglue lying around than an air mattress patch kit. Superglue is best for a rip at the seams or an area where two edges must stick together rather than a hole. You can either apply superglue itself or use a patch from any thin plastic or even an old scrap from a t-shirt. If you use a patch, refer to the DIY Patch instructions and use superglue for the adhesive.

If you don’t need to use a patch and are only using superglue, apply it in a zig-zag/stitch-like motion for the best results. After the first layer dries, use as many layers as necessary to cover the whole area in zig zags, making sure to let each layer dry first.

Gel Nail Polish

This method is very convenient, especially if you do your nails a lot and have a UV light and gel polish around. Depending on the size of the hole, you may need to alter your methods. For all sizes, make sure to complete “Preparing the Mattress” from step 1 to ready the area. If you have a small hole/tear, apply the gel nail polish above the hole.

Next, turn on the UV light and hold it above the hole for 10-15 seconds to cure the polish. You might need to repeat this step and add more nail polish if the first attempt didn’t cover it all. After you cure all the layers with UV light, you have successfully covered the hole.

The method changes a little bit if you have a large hole. You will still need to clean and sand the area, but with a larger area to cover, it is best to use a piece of a shower curtain or other thin plastic. Try to use transparent material so the UV light can still come through.

Cut a piece of your soon-to-be patch, making sure it’s big enough to cover the hole and then some, and apply a thick layer of nail polish. Place the piece on the hole, making sure it’s secure on the leak, and hold the UV light over the patch for 15-20 seconds this time. Rub lightly on the patch to make sure it doesn’t move and was cured correctly. 

Step 3: Check your Work

Step 3: Check your Work

Inflate the air mattress as usual and check if any air still leaks from your patch or sealant. If you want to go the extra mile, you could place some baby powder on top of the patch and then press down on the mattress. If the baby powder goes flying, you will need to re-patch the leak before you can get your friends that good night’s sleep.

Final Step: You’ve Learned How to Patch an Air Mattress

These patches may be really helpful when you’re camping and don’t have access to a proper patch kit, so keep them in mind. If you are planning a camping trip, be sure to look out for the best camping air mattresses and bring some of the materials listed for a quick, temporary fix.

I hope you get flooded with a sense of accomplishment after all your hard, selfless work. Now that you’ve learned how to patch an air mattress, your friends will be endlessly thankful, and you will truly be the hostess with the mostess for keeping all guest’s butts off the floor. Once again, all these solutions except the air mattress or bike tire patch kit are temporary and will eventually need to be re-patched or replaced – but hey, that’s the future you’s problem!

Written by Ashley Cimarolli

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