find hole air mattress

Air bed or air mattresses have given us campers the absolute comfort in harsh and unfriendly mountains. They are the reason why we can sleep soundly at chilly camping nights with unknown beasts and mosquitoes lurking around.

Aside from its camping purposes, I also frequently use it at home, especially as a spare bed when my little boy invites his friends for a sleepover. It’s a multi-purpose thing. It served me well, and I love it so much!

When I noticed that it’s deflating alarmingly quicker than before after just a few hours of use, I knew there was an air leakage happening. I can’t just bid farewell to my good friend, so I started thinking of ways to find the hole and save the mattress.

After a tiring day of looking for that irritating leak, I finally found out the leak source in my air mattress. It’s so small! That’s the reason why I had such a hard time trying different methods in finding it.

The methods I’ll be sharing with you are the ones I have tried. I hope they’ll work for you too!

Top 3 Methods For Finding A Hole In An Air Mattress

Method #1: Scrutinizing The Valves And The Mattress Itself

What You’ll Need: (All Are Optional)

  • A Pump
  • A Hair Dryer
  • Or A Vacuum Cleaner

Step 1: Strip the air mattress naked

Remove all beddings, pillows, and sheets from the air mattress. Obviously, it’ll be hard to detect the leaks with the beddings on.

Step 2: Move the air mattress to a bigger space

Move it into an uncluttered area where you can have more room to inspect and maneuver it freely. Usually, what I do is move the mattress to the living room where I can flip and poke it freely.

Other people take it outdoors, like my neighbor so that they can have a well-lit area for better inspection.

Step 3: Before anything else, inspect the valve cover

Save yourself the trouble of inflating the whole thing by scrutinizing the valve first. Oftentimes, the valve is the source of air leaks, so it’s a crucial step to take a look at it before anything else.

The valve cover is that circular part of the mattress that is located probably on one of the sides or at the bottom of the mattress. It’s the portion where you inflate the mattress.

First of all, make sure that the valve and the stem are intact. To do this, pull the valve out to protrude the stem. Inspect them for leaks or any tears.

​Also, see if the plug of the valve is tightly fastened to the stem. If it’s a little loose or it cannot be sealed at all, then it’s probably the problem.

Since it’s the only portion of the mattress that lets air move out freely, it’s most likely to be the culprit behind the leakage.

​Are you done inspecting the valve? If you can’t find any holes or tears in it, proceed with inflating the mattress.

Step 4: Inflate the air mattress

But not to the brim! Put one hand on top of the mattress then feel the hardness of the surface while you’re filling it with air. That way, you’ll know when it has enough air.

Most manufacturers warn consumers not to over inflate the mattress because it can literally burst into pieces. Remember, we’re trying to find the problem, not create another one.

If you don’t know how to inflate an air mattress, I’ll give you some tools that can get the job done. If your purchased mattress comes with its own pump, then good. If not, you can opt for a tire pump, a hair dryer (use the cool setting), and surprisingly, a vacuum cleaner.

However, only vacuum cleaners with a “blow” setting, in contrast to the regular ones which only has a “suck setting”, are qualified to be a pump alternative.

If you don’t have any of the tools mentioned or if all else fails, just breathe on it. Guys, it may take some time if you resort to breathing into your mattress but it’s ok I promise. It’s also a cheek exercise!

Step 5: Listen for a hissing sound or feel the surface of the mattress

Have you used up all the oxygen in your lungs? Are your cheeks aching now? Now that you’re done inflating the whole thing, listen closely if there’s a hissing sound coming from the mattress.

Move around the whole thing while keeping an ear for anything unusual. However, if the hole is too small, it might not make any sound at all.​

Alternatively, you can put your palm an inch away from the surface of the mattress and start moving around.

If you have successfully found the leak, mark it with a marker or a colored tape and patch it later. No luck finding the source? You better try Method #2.​

Method #2: Water + Dishwashing Liquid Method

What You’ll Need:

  • Dishwashing Soap
  • Water
  • Spray Bottle (Optional)
  • Sponge
  • Bucket/ Dipper

Step 1: Mix the dishwashing soap and water in a bucket/dipper or a spray bottle

Mix both components in a bucket or dipper. You can also mix the two in an old spray bottle. Make sure to pour in a concentrated amount of dishwashing soap until it’s good and bubbly. The more, the better.

Step 2: Submerge the sponge in the solution of water and dishwashing soap.

Step 3: Inflate the mattress.

Again, do not over-inflate it as it will aggravate the hole/s if any. The hole might tear up, resulting in a bigger leak. Follow the ways on how to inflate the mattress on Method #1, Step 4.

Step 4: Wipe/spray the mattress with the liquid

In this step, you’re going to wipe the mattress with the wetted sponge or spray it with the spray bottle of soap. Don’t worry about the mattress because you can quickly wipe away the soap and let the mattress dry after.

Again, do it on the valve first. Wipe or spray the valve area – top, sides, and stem. Observe for any bubble formation. The air escaping from the mattress will cause bubbles to form on the surface. Thus, this method makes it easier to spot the leak source than the first method.

If there’s no problem with the valve, proceed to wipe the whole mattress. Make sure not to leave any surface unwiped or sprayed, including the seams, corners, sides, and bottom.

A great tip is to apply force while wiping to induce pressure on the inside, thus forcing air out. This way, you’ll easily see the hole as you’re wiping along the surface. Always watch closely for bubble formation.

Once more, mark the hole with a marker or anything you can put your hand on, except sharp things of course.

If you’re at no luck finding the leak source, but you’re sure enough that you have covered all the areas of the mattress, wipe the soap off the whole thing, let it dry, and we’ll proceed with the next method.

Method #3: The immersion method

Personally, I find the immersion method the surest way to detect possible leaks in an air mattress. However, it can allow water to go inside the air mattress when you submerge it, causing molds to grow inside the mattress.

What You’ll Need:

  • A Bath Tub
  • An Inflatable Pool (Optional)
  • Garden Hose
  • A Table to support the mattress (if you’ll use a garden hose)

Step 1: Fill the tub with water

First things first, fill the tub or inflatable pool with water. Make sure the water’s higher than the mattress when you submerge it.

This method works by looking for bubbles rising on the surface of the mattress which means that air is making its way out of the water.

If you’ll use a garden hose, prepare a plastic table or any material that won’t retain moisture.

If you only have a wooden table, place a plastic covering on top of it to prevent water from coming in contact with the wood as this will cause decaying.

Step 2: Inflate the mattress

Follow the steps on inflating the whole thing on Method #1, Step 4.

Step 3: Submerge the mattress

If you’re using an inflatable pool or a tub, immerse the mattress in water. On the other hand, flood the area starting from the valve with a garden hose, working your way into the surface of the mattress.

Upon immersing the mattress, examine closely for any bubble formation. This will take a few minutes or so since a hole with a small diameter won’t release a bubble that quickly. Look at all the surface, sides, seams, and bottoms. Never miss an inch!

Likewise, be on a lookout for any bubble formation on the surface where you are spraying the running water. If you’ve finally found the leak spot, mark it immediately!

Read More: 7 Must-Do Steps for Staying Warm in a Tent


If you have a hole in your air mattress, you’ve got to fix it immediately because the hole will further increase in diameter if you continue to use it until it becomes irreparable.

Try to locate the hole with the three methods I have shared with you, guaranteed you’ll find that annoying hole.I hope it helps!

Did your beloved camping air mattress had this problem too? What tips can you share on locating the hole? Comment below!

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