How to Repair the Fabric Side of an Air Mattress in 5 Easy Steps

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A sustainably made air mattress is an excellent solution if you like to go camping or are simply looking for a cost-effective spare room sleep solution.

Most air mattresses come with a repair kit to fix minor leaks. But what happens if the leak occurs on the fabric or flocked side?

We should always do our best to repair and reuse whenever possible. So today, I'll show you how to repair the fabric side of an air mattress quickly and easily.

In fact, the method is almost identical to the method for the plastic side. There is just one crucial extra step.

Read on to discover this step and details of my favorite methods for repairing air mattresses.

Simple Air Mattress Repair - Preparation

Later I’ll talk you through the best air mattress methods I’ve discovered. But first, let's get the basics right.

Whatever repair method you choose, the way you prepare the air mattress for repair is always the same.

inflated air mattress after repair

Step One: Locate The Leak

The easiest way to do this is by inflating the mattress.

Then, using a spray bottle, cover the surface with soapy water. You’ll see bubbles appearing where the leak is.

If you can’t find the leak this way, try lying on the mattress and moving around until you feel where the air is escaping.

Placing thin sheets of tissue paper on the mattress can also help locate leaks.

Step Two: Mark The Leak

Once you have located the leak, mark it with a pen or pencil. This will help you find it again when you are ready to start your repair.

Step Three: Deflate The Mattress

Repairing an air mattress when inflated can lead to poor seals and escaping air.

It can also lead to injury if you burst the air mattress during your repair attempt.

Always deflate an air mattress before attempting a repair.

Step Four: Clean The Area In Need Of Repair

Use a cloth and a mild eco-friendly dish soap solution to clean the area around the leak. This will help the adhesive to bond correctly with the mattress.

This is where extra work is needed if you’re repairing the fabric side of an air mattress.

Most repair methods won’t stick properly to the fabric side of an air mattress, so you need to remove the fabric from around the leak.

The best way to do this is gently rub the area with soft sandpaper until the fabric has been removed. Then clean the area as mentioned above.

Step Five: Stop Air Escaping

Now you’ve fully prepped the leak area and are ready to repair.

Below I’ll talk you through some of my favorite methods.

Our Six Favorite Methods For Fixing A leaking Air Mattress

#1 Use The Repair Patch Kit Included

Most air mattresses come with a repair patch kit.

This is usually either patches and glue or self-adhesive patches.

Follow the manufacturer's instructions, and you’ll be inflated again in no time!

For just a few bucks, you can buy replacement air mattress repair patches off Amazon.

#2 DIY Repair Patch Kit

If you can’t find your repair patch kit or have misplaced it, don't worry, you can easily make your own patches from scrap vinyl products and suitable strong adhesive.

A DIY repair patch kit is a great way of repurposing something otherwise destined for the trash.

Things that make good DIY patches include a pool liner, a vinyl shower curtain, or at a push, an old bike inner tube.

How to use your DIY patches on air mattresses:

  1. Cut a DIY patch size that covers at least half an inch more than the hole (in all directions)
  2. Apply super glue to both the patch and also around the hole
  3. Apply the patch and apply pressure for one minute to ensure a good seal
  4. Cover the patch with an old cloth and place a weight on top (the patch should be fully dry/cured in around five minutes)
  5. Reinflate the air mattress and test the repair

#3 Superglue

If the hole in your air mattress has two edges that need sticking back together (a knife puncture, for example) then superglue alone might be sufficient.

How to repair with just superglue:

  1. Clean both sides of the hole with isopropyl alcohol (this will help the superglue to adhere)
  2. Apply a generous amount of superglue around the hole
  3. Bring the two edges of the fabric together and hold in place for at least one minute (the repair should be fully dry/cured in five minutes)
  4. Reinflate the air mattress and test the repair

This is a great temporary fix if you don't have any patches to hand. However, if the hole is larger than half an inch, you might want to try one of the other methods on this list.

Also, be careful that you don’t glue yourself to your air mattress when holding it in place. Disposable gloves might be a good idea.

#4 Amazing Goop

If you can’t get your hands on superglue, then another excellent option is Amazing Goop.

It’s a great all-purpose glue that you can use for various repairs.

The method for an Amazing Goop repair is the same as a superglue repair.

#5 Hot Glue Stick

This option is not for the heavy-handed (if you’re careless the hot glue gun can cause more leaks by melting the thin plastic of the mattress). It works best on small holes and will usually only last a few weeks.

The method for a hot glue gun repair is the same as a superglue and Amazing Goop repair.

#6 Duct Tape

Duct tape is the swiss army knife of repair materials. You can pretty much fix anything with it. And that includes your air mattress.

How to use duct tape for an air mattress repair:

  1. Cut a piece large enough to cover the hole and plenty of space around it
  2. Apply the duct tape to the degreased surface
  3. Then apply another piece at a 90-degree angle to form a cross
  4. Inflate the air mattress and test your fix

If you’re in a pinch, then this is a great temporary fix. Just be aware that over time the duct tape will start to lose its stickiness and need to be replaced.

#7 Gel Nail Polish

This is a slightly more complicated method because you need a UV light source. But we all have one of those…right?!

How to use gel nail polish to repair an air mattress:

  1. Lightly sand down the hole and the surrounding area. Do this for both smooth and material/flocked sides.
  2. Clean the repair area with isopropyl alcohol (nail polish remover also does the job) and wait for it to dry completely.
  3. Apply a thin layer of nail polish to the repair area.
  4. Hold the UV light source over the repair area for 20 seconds to cure the nail polish.
  5. Repeat steps 4 and 5 as necessary.
  6. Inflate the air mattress and double-check the repair is airtight.

Your Air Bed Might Not Actually Have A Puncture

An air bed will look like it's lost air if there's been a temperature change. Cold weather makes an air mattress deflate slightly.

This can also happen an hour or two after first inflating. This is because the air is often hot as it goes into the air bed (from being passed quickly through the pump), and then it cools.

Also, if your air bed has a built-in pump, it might be faulty with a slow leak.

Avoid Bicycle Repair Kits

Bicycle repair kits are not designed for repairing air beds.

The rubber cement or self-adhesive patches in bicycle repair kits are excellent at bonding to rubber but not so great with vinyl air beds.

Avoiding Air Mattress Punctures

I have three tips to help avoid punctures:

  1. Keep all sharp objects away from your air mattress
  2. Keep all pets away from your air mattress
  3. Use a bed frame to raise your air mattress completely off the ground and protect the thin plastic/vinyl material

Frequently Asked Questions

Will Flex Tape Work On An Air Mattress?

Yes. Flex Tape works well for temporary fixes.

Will Gorilla Tape Patch An Air Mattress?

Yes. Gorilla Tape works well for temporary fixes.

How Do You Use Gorilla Glue On An Air Mattress?

Gorilla Glue can be substituted for superglue in any of the repair methods mentioned in this article.

Why Is My Air Mattress Bulging On One Side?

If your air mattress is bulging, it’s probably overinflated. Let some air out. If the bulge doesn’t go away, you may have a leak.

What Is The Best Way To Store An Air Mattress?

The best way to store an air mattress is in a cool, dry place. Do not store your air mattress in direct sunlight or near any heat source.

When storing your air mattress for long periods of time, it’s a good idea to lightly dust it with talcum powder to keep the vinyl from sticking together.

When Should I Stop Inflating My Air mattress?

When the air bed is firm to the touch, it’s time to stop inflating. If you overinflate your air bed, it will be uncomfortable to sleep on and more likely to develop leaks.

The Final Word

So there you have it…my favorite methods for fixing a leaking air bed!

I hope you’ve found this article helpful and that you now feel confident in repairing your air bed.

Happy fixing and inflating!

Get In Touch

Do you use air beds? How do you stop an air mattress leak? Do you have any top tips or DIY repairs you swear by? Drop me a line and let me know.

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James is a senior editor at The Roundup and has been in journalism for over 10 years. He was born in the UK but raised in Florida, where he currently lives with his wife and two daughters. James is passionate about sustainable living and environmental issues which are reflected by his work as an editor of TheRoundup.org.
James Miller
James is a senior editor at The Roundup and has been in journalism for over 10 years. He was born in the UK but raised in Florida, where he currently lives with his wife and two daughters. James is passionate about sustainable living and environmental issues which are reflected by his work as an editor of TheRoundup.org.

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