How to Find a Leak in an Air Mattress

Written by: Andjela Kastratovic
Updated: 09/27/2023

Have you ever had that sinking feeling when you wake up on your air mattress, only to discover it’s mysteriously lost its air overnight

We’ve been there! There’s no need to panic. Your deflated air mattress might have a sneaky hole hiding somewhere. 

The good news is that there are a couple of ways to find it and get it fixed. 

In this guide, we’ll show you the best ways to locate a hole in your air mattress, even when it seems impossible. 

Let’s get into it! 

How to Find a Leak in an Air Mattress

Finding a leak in an air mattress can get tricky, but there are a couple of things you can try out. 

Get Ready

But before you begin, you have to set the stage! 

Make sure to place your mattress in the middle of a quiet room. This will give you room to maneuver and the silence you need to locate the air mattress leak. There should be no distractions! 

If you’re on a camping trip, you should do this in a tent with adequate light, away from wind and other noises. 

Also, get your gear ready. This could depend on the method you choose to find the escaping air, but it’s good to have a spray bottle filled with soapy water, a towel or tissue paper for drying things off, and a permanent marker to keep track of the leaks. 

Remember your trusty patch kit! 

Remove the Bedding

Now, let’s get down to business. Start by stripping your air mattress of all the sheets and blankets, because you’ll have to check every nook and cranny. So peel off those covers first! 

Add Air to the Mattress

Once everything is ready, it’s time for the next step!

Go ahead and inflate your mattress fully until it’s nice and firm, but stay moderate. It shouldn’t be overinflated. 

Many air mattresses come with an electric pump, which makes things easier, but you could also do this with your lungs if it’s manageable. 

Now that your mattress is fully inflated, it’s time to find the leak. There are a couple of ways to do so. 

Check the Valve and Stem

First, check the valve and stem. 

The valve area is a common culprit for mattress leaks, so you should inspect it. Check if the valve plug is snugly nestled into the valve stem—no wiggle room allowed. Some air mattresses have a double-locking feature, so make sure both locks are intact and undamaged.

But if the valve area is the problem, it’s tough to patch. If the plug doesn’t seal, you can try slipping in a thin piece of plastic as a quick fix. Once you’ve sorted out that valve situation, it’s time to move on to the mattress. 

Check the Seams and Edges

It’s time to check those seams and edges! 

Just like the valve, these spots can be troublemakers. Run your hands along them, feeling for any telltale signs of escaping air. And here’s a tip: use your ears too! Sometimes, you can hear a faint hiss if you listen closely. If you sense or hear any air sneaking out, you’ve got a leak on your hands. 

Inspect the Air Mattress Visually

And if it’s not the valve or the seams and edges, it’s time to inspect the mattress in another way to find a hole. 

Look for any visible signs of damage, such as scrapes, tears, or areas that look like they’ve lost a bit of air. Don’t miss a spot; watch the mattress closely and check every nook and cranny.

Give it a gentle touch, too; sometimes, you can feel subtle changes in texture that signal a leak.

Press the Mattress and Listen for Escaping Air 

Find a quiet spot and gently squeeze the air mattress. As you press down, keep your ears closed and listen carefully. If there’s a leak, you’ll hear a hissing sound. That’s the sound of escaping air, and you should follow it!

While you’re at it, move your head around the mattress surface; sometimes, your ear can feel the air escaping before you hear it.

This is the most effective way to identify leaks, especially around the seams, which are prime suspects. So, give it a good listen, and you might catch it!

The Spray Bottle Method

Grab yourself some liquid dish soap and mix it with warm water in a spray bottle. Make sure the soapy water is all mixed up nicely. 

Now, use the spray bottle to spray the surface of the mattress systematically. Start with the valve and the seams, then move on to the rest of the fabric. Apply pressure and look for bubbles escaping from certain areas.

This method lets you spot a leak or hole in an air mattress because the soapy water solution in combination with escaping air causes bubbles too form. It’s also known as the dish soap method.

But don’t fret about getting dish soap solution on your mattress, it’s easy to clean up later. Once you’ve uncovered the leak, mark the spot with tape or a marker for future reference. And you’re ready for the patching! 

Use a Candle

Let’s shed some light on those sneaky air mattress leaks—literally! Another one of the alternative methods of finding small holes involves grabbing a candle, lighting it, and holding the flame close to the surface of the inflated mattress. Watch closely; if that flame flickers or bends inward, there’s a small stream of air leaking from the mattress. 

This is an excellent method to find little holes in a leaking air mattress, but it might not be the best choice for those who don’t want to work with an open flame. 

Submerge Your Mattress

If you want to take it to the next level, you can also find an air leak by submerging your air mattress. 

A quick tip before you start: make sure to check whether your mattress can be submerged. Most manufacturers recommend against submerging their air mattresses because it can damage the fabric and even cause it to deteriorate. 

But if it’s all good, we’re ready to begin!

Start by partially inflating your mattress so it has air in it. A completely inflated mattress would be hard to maneuver. Next, find a pool or bathtub filled with enough water to cover the bed. Slowly lower the entire mattress into the water, air valve first, and keep a close watch. 

Apply gentle pressure to force air out as you scan for bubbles rising to the surface. When you spot those bubbles, you’ve found your leak! 

As soon as you find a hole, mark it with a permanent marker for future reference. Just remember to let the mattress dry thoroughly before patching it up.

The Garden Hose Method

Have you ever tried the garden hose to track those elusive leaks in air mattresses? It’s pretty simple! 

First, find a suitable outdoor spot, like an outdoor table, deck, patio, or driveway. Lay your air mattress out flat and arm yourself with a garden hose with a sprayer. Start by dampening the area around the valve, keeping a watchful eye on the water’s surface.  

If you spot bubbles forming, you’ve found where the air is escaping. Continue to explore other areas, paying close attention to spots like seams where leaks often hang out. Once you’ve pinpointed the leak, mark it for future repair. Just make sure your mattress is fully dry before patching it up.

Mark the Leaks

No matter which method you choose to find the leaks in your air mattress, you need to mark the spots immediately. 

As soon as you find one, grab a permanent marker or a piece of tape! Why? You don’t want to lose track of the leaks later on and have to do everything all over again, especially if there are multiple leaks. 

So, label a dot with a marker or a piece of tape, and you’ll thank yourself when it’s time to patch things up.

How to Fix a Leaky Air Mattress

Now that you’ve found all the leaks and marked them correctly, it’s time to take the following steps to ensure that your air mattress is fixed and you can sleep! 

Confirm the Leak

You should know that an air mattress deflates naturally over time, and there might not be a leak at all. That’s why confirming you have a leak before submerging your mattress and trying different methods is essential. 

And when you find the leak, mark it with a permanent marker or duct tape! 

Clean the Area and Let It Dry

Before you patch up the mattress, get a wet towel and some soap to clean the spot where the leak is. If there’s any dirt or dust, the patch might not stick properly, so keeping the area clean is essential. 

But it’s not just about being dust-free. It also needs to be dry. Let your mattress air dry until there’s no water or moisture. Moisture can mess with the patch and cause it to not stick to the air mattress properly. 


You’re ready to patch your air mattress! You’ve got a few options up your sleeve, and here’s how to make them happen.

Remember, different leaks might need various fixes, so choose your method wisely!

Adhesive Patch for Small Holes

An adhesive patch is the best choice if you’re dealing with smaller holes. First, clean the area around the small hole with rubbing alcohol to ensure the patch sticks. 

Apply a generous amount of adhesive to the patch, then press it firmly over the hole, ensuring there are no wrinkles or air bubbles. Let it dry completely before you reinflate your air mattress.

Patch Kit for Larger Tears

When facing bigger holes, a patch kit comes to the rescue. These kits usually include sandpaper, glue, and a patch. Start by deflating your air bed, then clean the area thoroughly. Spread glue over the patch and press it onto the leak. 

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions because the exact steps might differ. Let that glue dry completely before you reinflate the mattress. 

Voilà, your air mattress is back in action!

No Patch Kit? DIY Options

If you’re stuck without a patch kit, don’t worry. You can improvise and make a homemade patch with materials like an old shower curtain, a piece of tarp, or even duct tape. Just make sure the patch covers the hole effectively.

Liquid Patch

Another trick up your sleeve is a liquid patch. Apply this sealant directly to the damaged area, and it creates a tight seal to stop the air from escaping. Remember to check if it suits an air mattress, as not all liquid patches are equal.

How to Protect an Air Mattress From Leaking

Follow these simple tips to protect your air mattress from leaks and ensure it provides you with quality sleep. These measures will help keep your air mattress in great shape and avoid any unexpected deflation.

  • First, avoid overinflating it, as too much air pressure can lead to damage. 
  • Place the mattress in a safe area, free from sharp objects or obstacles that could puncture it. 
  • Please don’t jump on your mattress or let your pets on it. 
  • Adding a layer of bedding adds comfort and acts as extra protection. 
  • Regularly inspect your mattress for wear or damage, catching potential leaks early. 
  • Store it away from extreme temperatures and direct sunlight when not in use. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Find a Hole in an Air Mattress With Soap?

To find a hole in an air mattress using soap, mix liquid dish soap with water and apply it to the inflated mattress’s surface. Watch for soap bubbles forming, indicating the exact location of the hole as air escapes, making it easy to pinpoint and repair.

What Is the Best Way to Patch an Air Mattress Hole?

The best way to patch an air mattress hole is to use an adhesive patch or repair kit designed for air mattresses. Deflate the bed, clean the area around the hole, apply adhesive, and firmly attach the patch, ensuring no wrinkles. Allow it to dry entirely before reinflating and testing.

How Long Does an Air Mattress Last If Used Every Day?

An air mattress used daily can last anywhere from one to three years on average. However, the lifespan depends on factors like the quality of the bed, the user’s weight, and how well it’s maintained. High-quality models with reinforced materials tend to last longer, even if you use them daily.

Final Thoughts

You’ve learned the tried-and-true methods for finding those pesky air mattress leaks, whether using the soap and water trick, the listening method, or try to submerge your mattress if all else fails. 

Now you’re ready to patch that hole and enjoy uninterrupted sleep again! 

But remember, prevention is key! To ensure your air mattress stays fully inflated in the future, store it properly, keep sharp objects at bay, and treat it well. 

We wish you a good night’s sleep!

Reviews written by:

Andjela Kastratovic - Co-editor

Anđela is a content writer by the day and an Illustrator by night. She loves anything creative, but sleep takes the cake – that’s why she enjoys writing for Anatomy of Sleep so much!

While in high school, she got accepted for her dream job – a ‘professional sleeper’. Her job was to test new mattresses from a local mattress brand and write reports on the quality of sleep. Ever since then, she’s been in love with reviewing mattresses and putting her compelling research into ultimate buyer’s guides. While not exploring the latest brands, she likes to illustrate and spend time with her dog and friends.