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How to Clean Your Air Mattress

An air mattress sitting on a hardwood floor.
Maria Kasimova/Shutterstock

Whether your air mattress is for occasional guests, used all summer for camping, or parked in your spare room, it needs regular cleaning. Here’s how to keep it fresh and extend its life.

There are times when you might want to clean your air mattress immediately after use—like when you’ve taken it camping, and it’s covered in dirt or sand. For indoor use, however, barring serious spills or stains, you can usually get by with light cleaning and using fitted sheets to help protect the mattress.

Here are some things you can do after each use and some you can do when it’s time for “deep” cleaning.

Light Cleaning After Each Use

You don’t have to vacuum or wash down your vinyl air mattress after each use, but it’s helpful to clean off any debris. If you’re letting the air out and putting the mattress away, you might want to make sure it goes into the box at least somewhat clean (and without anything that might poke a hole in it). If you’re leaving it out for the following night or until you have another guest, there are still some things you can do to keep the mattress in good shape.

It’s a good idea to brush the mattress off after each use—especially before packing it up between guests or trips. You can use a soft brush, a broom, or even a handheld vacuum. This will remove any debris, pet hair, or dirt.

Vacuuming is ideal for mattresses with a velour top. You can use a damp rag to wipe down all plastic air beds, but be sure to let the material dry completely before you put it back in the box or bag.

Deep Cleaning Your Air Mattress

No matter what your air mattress is made of, there are some basic ways to get it clean. Most contain some sort of rubber, vinyl, or plastic material. The material doesn’t matter as much when it comes to cleaning, but what does matter is whether your air mattress has a built-in air pump.

Prepare It 

Remove the sheets and mattress pad. Wash the sheets every week or two during regular use. If you take your air mattress camping, wash the sheets after each trip as they tend to get a bit dirtier while camping.

If your air mattress has a built-in air pump, definitely unplug it before wiping it down with any liquids. While some mattresses have a removable pump, it’s typically a hassle to remove, and you usually can’t keep the mattress inflated when the pump is removed. With that in mind, we don’t recommend removing built-in pumps—just avoid getting any moisture in them.

When cleaning around the pump housing, use a lightly damp cloth. To be extra cautious, you can put some painter’s tape over the pump face to make sure no water gets into it. Just be sure to remove the tape before plugging the pump back in.

Finally, inflate the bed. If the air mattress is deflated, you won’t be able to get it completely clean. You also won’t have any wrinkles to fight with, and it’ll make vacuuming easier.

Clean It

If you use your air mattress regularly, a deep cleaning every other month might be a good idea. If you only use it during camping season, give it a deep clean before you pack it up for the year.

Here’s how to deep clean your mattress:

  • Vacuum: This removes all debris, from dust to dog hair. It’s also the best way to clean air mattresses with velour tops.
  • Wipe it Down: Use a soft cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol (you don’t need to soak it—just dampen). Rubbing alcohol removes stains, sticky spots, and germs. Some water with a mild dish soap works, too, but again, try not to soak it.
  • Remove Tougher Stains: If some stains didn’t come out after one cleaning with rubbing alcohol, go back over it a few times. Rinse out your rag each time or use a different section, so you aren’t just rubbing dirt back into the spot.

Don’t let any of your rinse water get inside the mattress as this can lead to mold and bacteria growth. The last thing you want is a room that smells like a “mildewy” basement every time you deflate the air mattress.

Dry It Out

Be sure your air mattress is completely dry before you put it away. With the aid of the rubbing alcohol you used, it shouldn’t take more than a few hours outside on a warm day for your mattress to thoroughly dry. If you can’t put it outside, leave it inflated where you cleaned it, and let it sit until the next day.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow has been a professional writer for almost two decades. Yvonne has worked for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and much more as a writer and editor. She's also a published poet and a short story writer. Read Full Bio »

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