How to find a hole in an air mattress?

pulled an old air mattress out of my closet and there seems to be a leak that I can’t find. what should i do? how do I find a leak in an air mattress??

Best thing I have found is either put the mattress in a bathtub little by little to see what seems to be forcing out the air or fill a spray bottle with soapy water and do the same section by section. This can take time but both are very effective.


I second both of these suggestions. You may be able to hear it losing air, but pinpointing the hole’s exact location so you can repair it, is a whole other challenge. The water and soap techniques make it very easy to see where a leak is.


Put me on the water-and-soap team. This works for bike tires, sleeping pads, and pretty much any other inflatable as well.

Next question here is what’s the best type of patch? I’ve tried a lot and none seem to last more than 5-10 more times. Does anyone have better luck or is a leak a definite sign that it’s time for something new?

I had a tricky one which we had patched and it still was leaking, that was the only way to figure out that the patch was faulty… water and soap all day every day!!!

I bring it in the pool with a marker…circle the holes, dry if off and “shoe-goo” the daylights out of the holes. Has bee effective so far.

1 Like

I have a few 30 year old thermarests with patches still going strong. But it does depend on where the homes are. My son’s Alps self inflating pad had multiple leaks along the heat seam…trash canned it.
For me personally, shoe-goo and a rip stop nylon circle does the job.

PVC air mattresses are a different sort of animal from self inflating sleeping pads as far as the patch is concerned. Shoe goo is pretty effective on PVC mattresses when dealing with pin holes.

I don’t remember the brand, but Walmart carries pretty decent patch kits if you are dealing with larger leaks, the package is white and orange…