Air mattresses aren't just for camping — though they're excellent for providing insulation and comfort when sleeping on the ground — they are also fantastic for accommodating houseguests or providing a temporary bed for any number of reasons.
But just because it's only a temporary bed doesn't mean that you shouldn't take care of it for the long haul. Proper care and use of your air mattress will keep it comfortable and working reliably for years. Here's how to get the best performance and longevity from any type of air mattress.
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1. Keep It Inflated When in Use
Constantly deflating and reinflating your air mattress puts unnecessary tension on the seams. If you are blowing up the mattress for a houseguest who is staying for several days, for example, leave the mattress inflated over the course of the stay instead of inflating and deflating it daily.
2. Don't Press to Deflate
Air mattresses are inflated within minutes with the use of battery-operated or plug-in electric pumps, but they can take much longer to fully deflate. It may be tempting to unplug the air valve and push the air out of the mattress by rolling it. However, this can be potentially damaging to the mattress. Pushing out the air stretches the seams and could cause the seals to burst.
To prevent damage while deflating, open the air valve and allow the mattress to deflate on its own completely before packaging it for storage. This also applies if you have a mattress pump with a speedy deflation setting; once you turn off the pump, let all remaining air escape by itself. Listen near the valve; if you hear a faint hissing sound, the mattress is still deflating.
3. Keep Pets Off
Even if your family pets are used to sleeping on beds or resting on furniture, they should be kept away from air mattresses. Any animal with sharp claws can puncture holes in the air mattress that are difficult to repair. Animals also have the tendency to push off or jump off furniture, which can stress the seams of the mattress.
4. Don't Overfill
Filling air mattresses to maximum capacity places unnecessary stress on the seams. It is recommended that you blow up an air mattress only to about 90 percent of its full capacity, especially the first time it is used. Each time you overfill the mattress, the mattress becomes more likely to rupture.
5. Keep Sharp Objects Away
Keep the mattress away from items such as pencils, safety pins, needles, paper clips, or any item with a blade or point that can puncture the mattress. When lying on the mattress, it is best to empty your pockets of any items that could cause damage. All of these things can create holes in the air mattress that will need repair.
6. Know the Weight Limits
Air mattress materials can stretch, and the seams can undergo enough stress to break when subjected to weight that exceeds the mattress's rating. The weight rating for a mattress represents the maximum total weight it can support without risking damage. The maximum weight is cumulative, so if two people weighing 150 pounds sleep on the bed simultaneously, it must be capable of supporting 300 pounds. Typical weight ratings are listed below. Heavy-duty air mattresses are also available that have weight limits equaling 100 to 500 pounds more than standard mattress limits.
Air Mattress Standard Weight Ratings in Pounds
Standard Weight Rating
7. Don’t Sit on the Edge
Sitting on the edge of your air mattress can shorten its life span. By sitting on an edge, a person puts much of their body weight onto a small area. Holes, tears, or broken seams can occur under the focused pressure.
8. Properly Store
Proper storage of your air mattress includes deflating, folding, and putting it in the correct location. Here's how to store your air mattress correctly so you can use it year after year:
- Remove any objects from the top of the bed, including sheets, blankets, and pillows, then place the mattress on a flat, level surface.
- Locate and open the air valve, or pull the deflation plug if your mattress has one. Leave it open until the bed fully deflates. If your mattress has a deflation pump, turn it on and run it until all the air is removed.
- Fold the mattress, fold and roll the mattress, or roll it up, depending on how it came in its original packaging. You can lessen the risk of damage from storing your mattress by folding or rolling it up as it was when it was new.
- Place the bed in either in its original packaging, the bag that came with it, or a storage bag. You can also contain it with straps. You can place it in a storage bin or container for more protection if you like.
- Now that your air mattress is ready to be put away, place it in a dry location or one with good ventilation that will remain at a mild temperature.
9. Prevent Mold
Mold grows best in mild to warm temperatures where moisture is present. Before storing your air mattress, ensure that its surfaces are completely dry. If you need to keep the mattress in a humid location, place it inside a sealed bin or a vinyl, watertight bag. Ventilate the area where you store the mattress to keep moisture from settling on the fabric material.
10. Periodically Clean It
To prevent odors and stains from getting trapped in your air mattress, you'll want to clean it from time to time. Whether you should clean it after every use or once a year depends on how often you use your mattress and the conditions. After cleaning your air bed, allow it time to dry before storing it. Don't attempt to wash it in a washing machine.
For general cleaning of a PVC air mattress, remove all bedding, inflate your mattress to smooth out any wrinkles in the fabric, vacuum off any dust, and then use a cloth to gently rub on a mixture of dish soap and water. Wipe with a clean damp cloth to remove soap residue, then dry the mattress with another cloth. You can use the same process to spot-clean the velvet-like top layer, if applicable.
And of course, accidents can happen on an air mattress. To remove urine or other bodily fluid stains and smells from your mattress, you can try a couple of cleaning methods.
- Blot with a cloth or paper towels to remove any moisture.
- Soak the affected area with distilled white vinegar, and blot to remove excess liquid.
- Spray with a mixture of 3 tablespoons baking soda, 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide, and a few drops of dish soap. Let the solution sit for 5 to 20 minutes before blotting with clean towels.
You can also try pouring a small amount of baking soda onto the stain. Allow it to sit for a few minutes before wiping with a cloth dampened with a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water.
Remove mold or mildew from your mattress using an equal mix of rubbing alcohol and water. Scrub the mixture onto the affected area, rinse it off with water and another cloth, and then apply a disinfectant spray.
How Long Do Air Mattresses Last?
High-quality air mattresses can last as little as two to three years with regular use, while occasionally used air mattresses can last more than eight years. Proper maintenance and storage practices will help ensure you get the longest possible life from your mattress.
Avoiding damage is also key to an air mattress's longevity. Repairing holes and rips in the fabric is relatively simple with a patch kit. Fixing a broken seam can be a bit more involved, but it's doable with the right adhesive. If you encounter an air leak you can't repair, it means it's time for a new air mattress.
Other signs that you should replace your air mattress include the mattress not remaining inflated all night, the mattress having bumps or bulges, skin irritation, or if the inflation motor has failed.