How To Clean An Air Mattress

There’s nothing worse than taking a stored air mattress out to discover a smell that insults the nostrils! Spraying air fresheners just won’t cut the smell, so what do you do? We have a few steps to getting it sparkling clean and smelling good again.

That epic camping trip back in the summer may have been packed with fun, but guess what else it continues to still “pack?”

We stuffed our camping gear, including the air mattress, into the storage shed outback as soon as we got home from that trip. It’s now the holiday season, and the out-of-town family is coming in for a week.

Pulling out the air mattress from the shed is met with strange smells! It’s similar to a mix of fish, campfire, and dirt.

After spreading it out on the driveway to inspect it, dark fuzzy areas are on the sides. In looking closer, your nose and eyes confirm it’s mold. Perhaps the heavy downpour while camping got into the tent and onto the mattress.

It suddenly hits us that we packed up the air mattress without drying it, much less cleaning it once home. Now the question passes through our mind, “Do we clean it or just buy a new one?”

Let’s try giving it a good scrub down, and then you can decide!

Steps For Cleaning An Air Mattress

First, you want to take your air mattress out of the storage bag and find a flat surface with enough area outside to clean it using a water hose thoroughly.

Gather The Items You Need

  • Water hose
  • Vacuum
  • Air Mattress Pump
  • Antibacterial Dish Soap
  • Bleach (if you discover mold)
  • Bucket
  • Gentle Scrubby or Brush (only use the brush you would use on your body because they are gentle.)

Prepare An Outdoor Area To Clean The Mattress

A driveway or patio is ideal for cleaning your mattress. Ensure there are no sharp objects that the air mattress will get punctured.

Use your water hose and thoroughly hose down the driveway/patio to ensure a fairly clean area to work on. Allow to dry.

Fill Mattress With Air

Spread your air mattress out on the driveway/patio. Fill with air until it is at maximum capacity.

Vacuum the mattress to remove left-behind fine dirt and residue.

BE SURE TO UNPLUG YOUR VACUUM AND AIR PUMP. We don’t want you to get shocked! It’s best to take them back into your house.

Cover Built-In Air Pumps To Prevent Damage

Built-in air pumps in the mattress have electric components that shouldn’t get wet. To prevent this, cover the pump with a plastic trash bag taped onto the area with adhesive nano gel removable/waterproof tape.

Inspect for Mold or Mildew

Inspect the entire mattress for mold and mildew. You’ll need to do a little spot pre-treating if you notice either.

Mold/mildew pre-treatment can be easily done by spraying bleach on the area and gently washing it with a soft scrub brush. You may need to repeat it a few times. Be careful not to over-scrub to avoid pinholes or tears in the mattress.

Avoid using bleach on your air mattress if possible…save it as a last resort if you discover mold.

Rinse with a water hose.

Clean With Soap And Rinse

Prepare dish soap cleaning solution—¼ cup to a full bucket of water.

Wet down the entire air mattress. As you do this, look for air bubbles along the seams and surfaces. Air bubbles are indicators of air leaks. If you discover any air leaks, check out our guide to patching an air mattress.

Proceed to gently wash down the mattress with your brush using circular motions. You may need to go over those areas a few more times for stubborn stains.

Rinse thoroughly with a water hose.

Allow The Air Mattress To Dry

If you can, relocate the mattress to a clean area where you can prop it up to dry thoroughly. Make sure not to leave it on the wet driveway/patio – it will prevent it from drying properly. You’ll also want to make sure you give the air mattress time to air out.

Remove covering/tape from the built-in pump area. Wet down a cloth with alcohol and swab out the valves and pump area.

Clean The Storage Bag

While the mattress is drying, put the mattress’ storage bag into the washer by itself on warm/hot water temperature with laundry soap. Allow the bag to air dry.

Vacuum, Fold, And Store The Air Mattress

After it’s dried, vacuum the air mattress thoroughly.

  1. Deflate the air mattress, making sure all of the air is out.
  2. Spread the mattress out once again on a cleaned driveway.
  3. Gently fold it together and roll it up. Never force it, sit on it, or bunch it up. This can result in pinholes and tears.
  4. Place the air mattress back into the clean storage bag and put it into a closet to keep it fresh and clean for future use!

Fresh And Clean, Ready To Use!

Now you have a clean, amazing-smelling air mattress ready for your incoming out-of-town guests or an impromptu kids’ sleepover. Remember, if you use it on a camping trip again, clean it well before storing it.

Store it in a place that’s free from mildew and musty odors if you use the mattress often indoors; a routine cleaning now and then keeps it invitingly smelling good and clean!