When you have family or friends visiting from out of town, you don't want to leave them sleeping on a dirty, smelly air mattress. While you may be stressing about finding out how to clean an air mattress before your guests arrive, the good news is that the cleaning process is relatively simple and quick — much easier than cleaning an innerspring or memory foam mattress. These easy steps can get your air mattress looking its best in no time.
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Why You Should Clean An Air Mattress
If you don’t clean your air mattress, it may become stained or smelly after a while. While in use, air beds tend to become dirtied by skin cells, hair, dust mites, sweat, drool, and more. Unfortunately, many people quickly roll them up and store them away without cleaning them first, which promotes bacteria growth, mold, and unpleasant odors.
To prevent these issues, clean your air bed after every guest finishes using it, or at least every three months.
Things You'll Need
How to Clean an Air Mattress
1. Prepare the Air Mattress for Cleaning
Strip the bed of sheets, blankets, pillowcases, the comforter, and the mattress pad. Wash all bedding in the washing machine according to manufacturer instructions.
Remove the air pump from the bed if possible. If your bed has a built-in pump, unplug it or remove the batteries to reduce the risk of electrical shock and damage to the bed. When cleaning your air mattress, be cautious to keep water away from built-in pumps.
2. Vacuum the Air Mattress to Remove Dust and Dirt
Since air mattresses are typically used on the ground, they tend to get dust and dirt trapped on the surface. For this reason, you should vacuum loose dirt and debris from the mattress while it is still inflated, ensuring the surface is still taught with pressure to remove creases.
3. Remove Odors With Baking Soda
Usually, musty odors are caused by storing the mattress without allowing it to air dry thoroughly. To prevent this problem, sprinkle baking soda on your air bed and let it sit for five minutes before vacuuming it away.
4. Make a Mild Cleaning Solution
Because air mattresses can be made of various fabrics, including velour and velvet, it's best to use only gentle cleaning products on them. The best cleaning solution is a tablespoon of mild dish soap mixed with a gallon of warm water. Before using any commercial disinfectant, check your owner's manual to find recommended products and learn what cleansers should be avoided.
If your mattress has mildew, you may need something stronger, so create a solution of half rubbing alcohol and half warm water. A mixture of half white vinegar and half warm water is ideal when you need to remove mold.
5. Apply the Cleaning Solution to Clean the Air Mattress
Move the air bed somewhere warm and dry so it can dry quickly after cleaning, making it harder for mold or mildew to take hold. Dip a clean cloth in your cleaning solution, wring it out so it is lightly damp, and wipe down the entire surface of the mattress. Keep the fabric from getting too wet as moisture build-up can promote the growth of mold and mildew. Use a second damp cloth dipped only in water to wash away any soap residue, then go over the whole surface with a dry, soft cloth.
While most air mattresses can withstand vigorous scrubbing, take care when cleaning velvet or velour surfaces, or you may damage them. For fabric surfaces, use small, circular motions while you scrub.
6. Dry the Surface of the Air Mattress
Leave your air mattress inflated while it dries to prevent moisture from getting trapped in the folds. Ideally, you should clean your mattress on a sunny day and leave it outside on a large sheet to air dry as fast as possible. When this isn't a viable option, leave the air bed beside a dehumidifier to help remove moisture in the air around the mattress. Do not deflate the mattress or attempt to store it until it is completely dry.
How to Remove Stains From an Air Mattress
The above steps are usually sufficient when it comes to simply cleaning an air mattress, but if yours has urine on it, it will require deep cleaning. If there is urine on your air mattress, remove the stain immediately by doing the following:
- Create a cleaning paste by mixing 3 tablespoons of baking soda, 8 ounces of hydrogen peroxide, and two to four drops of mild soap.
- Test this mixture on a small, hidden area of the mattress to ensure it does not damage the material.
- If the air mattress is not damaged, fill a spray bottle with this mixture and spray the soiled area thoroughly. Let it sink in.
- When the paste is dry, vacuum away the residue.
- Repeat as needed if the stain persists.
Consider purchasing a new air bed if you cannot remove the stain. Unlike traditional mattresses, even the best air mattresses are affordably priced under $200.
How to Maintain an Air Mattress
To extend the life of your air bed, always allow it to deflate naturally. Never squeeze it or sit on it to make it deflate faster, as this can damage the mattress, the plug, and the valve.
Once it has deflated, you'll need to fold the bed up carefully. To properly fold it, leave the valve open, fold it over twice lengthwise and roll it up tightly like a sleeping bag.
Never store the mattress in a humid area, as this can promote mold and mildew growth. The best place to store your air mattress is a linen closet, which is typically dry and warm. If you must keep the bed in a moist area such as a basement, store the mattress with a dehumidifier or moisture absorber to help trap moisture and odors.
Can an Air Mattress Be Washed in a Washing Machine?
No. While the materials used in air mattresses are sturdy, washing your air bed in a washing machine can damage the rubber, the plug, and the valve. Washing machines will also destroy built-in pumps.
How do You Prevent Mold or Mildew on Your Air Mattress?
Keep it clean and dry. Moist, dark environments encourage the growth of microorganisms. Always ensure the mattress is clean and thoroughly dried before rolling it up to put it away, and avoid storing it in humid areas.
How do I Eliminate Bed Bugs From an Air Mattress?
Air mattresses aren’t an ideal home for bed bugs as they cannot burrow into the material to lay eggs. Though bed bugs don’t generally want to reside in an air mattress, they can still climb into them, hide in small crevices, and bite anyone in the bed.
The best solution to removing bed bugs in an air mattress is to use a bed bug heater, which heats items to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature hot enough to kill the bugs and their eggs. Alternatively, you can store an air mattress in your freezer for four days to achieve the same outcome.