How To Clean An Air Mattress

Charlotte Corbin in Air Mattresses

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

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That epic camping trip back in the summer may have been packed with fun, but guess what else it continues to still “pack?” As soon as we got home from that trip, we stuffed our camping gear, including the air mattress, into the storage shed outback. It’s now the holiday season, and out of town family is coming in to stay 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, there are dark fuzzy areas 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 go buy a new one?” Let’s try giving it a good scrub down, and then you can decide!

Steps For Cleaning An Air Mattress

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

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 type of 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. Make sure there are no sharp objects that the air mattress will get punctures from.

Use your water hose and thoroughly hose down the driveway/patio, so you have 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 from happening, cover the pump with a plastic trash bag that’s taped onto the area with adhesive nano gel removable/waterproof tape.

Inspect for Mold or Mildew

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

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

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

Rinse with a water hose.

Clean With Soap And Rinse

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

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

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

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 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.

Deflate the air mattress, making sure all of the air is out.

Spread the mattress out once again on a cleaned driveway.

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.

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 that’s 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 real good before storing it. Store it in a place that’s free from mildew and musty odors. If you do use the mattress often indoors, a routine cleaning every now and then keeps it invitingly smelling good and clean!

Charlotte Corbin

Charlotte is an avid hiker, camper, traveler and home maker. She enjoys writing about sleep, especially ways to sleep comfortably while not in her regular bed at home.