An air mattress or an air bed may develop mold if it is kept in a damp area. Keeping it inside a plastic mattress cover may also cause mold or mildew if bacteria are already on the mattress. Clean the mattress outdoors with a mild soap and water or a vinyl cleaner to remove the mold.
Removing Mold or Mildew
Step 1: Set the Mattress Outdoors
Cover a flat surface outdoors, such as the driveway, with a clean plastic tarp. Set the mattress atop the tarp. Inflate the mattress with an air pump if it is not already inflated.
Step 2: Brush Away Mold Spores
Brush dry mold spores off the mattress with a soft-bristled brush such as a nylon-bristled paintbrush or a fingernail brush.
Step 3: Wipe the Mattress Down
Wipe down the mattress with a sponge dipped into a bucket of warm water that contains a squirt or two of dish soap. Wipe one area at a time, such as the top or sides, then rinse the mattress off with a hose or with a sponge dipped in clean water. Do not wet plush or velour areas of an indoor air mattress or air bed, other than mildew or mold spots that require attention.
Step 4: Clean the Other Side
Flip the mattress over to clean the other side with the soapy water. Rinse it off as well, then allow the entire air mattress to dry completely before taking it indoors or deflating it. If the mattress smells a bit musty after cleaning it, wipe it down with equal parts water and white vinegar, then allow it to air-dry.
- A marine vinyl cleaner such as the type used to clean boat seats and inflatable boats can also be used to clean washable areas of all types of air mattresses. These usually require rinsing afterward; read the package label first, as instructions may vary by product. Some general household cleaners can also be used but only if the packaging states the product is safe to use on vinyl.
- If using an air mattress as a bed, cover it with a sheet to protect it from body oils and substances that may lead to mildew growth.
- Do not use a stiff-bristled brush or other abrasive materials when cleaning the air mattress, as these may damage it.
- Wear a dust mask and note the wind direction before cleaning mold off the air mattress outdoors. Stand so the wind blows away from you and the mattress, if it is windy outside.
- Always rinse and air-dry the mattress after wiping it with soapy water.
- Store the air mattress in a nonhumid area with at least some air flow and exposure to daylight to reduce chances of musty odors and mold.
- Do not inflate any type of air mattress by mouth if the inside area contains mold or mildew or smells musty.
Kathy Adams is an award-winning writer. She is an avid DIYer that is equally at home repurposing random objects into new, useful creations as she is at supporting community gardening efforts and writing about healthy alternatives to household chemicals. She's written numerous DIY articles for paint and decor companies, as well as for Black + Decker, Hunker, SFGate, Landlordology and others.