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How do I best deal with mold inside an air mattress?

I have an inflatable air mattress that has developed mold on the inside (I can see it through the mattress wall).  Is mold a common or inevitable problem with mattresses filled by lung-air?  Is there a best method for getting rid of the mold?

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2 Replies

@tedfield Thanks for reaching out!

Removing mold from the inside of an inflatable air mattress is a challenging endeavor. Any time you get stagnant, moist air trapped in an enclosed space you have an opportunity brewing for mold to develop. Inflatable air mattresses, when inflated with your breath, have the potential for developing mold. Because you are able to see it through the wall material, we are assuming your air mattress does not have open cell foam inside. If it is an open cell foam sleeping pad, you definitely want to address the issue as soon as possible, as mold can affect the glue that holds the foam to the pad and could cause a 'bubble' to form. 

Your best course of action is to remove as much moisture from inside your sleeping pad as possible, making it hard for the mold to continue to grow. Fortunately, since you can see it through the wall of the air mattress, you'll be able to notice if it is spreading. We recommend filling the pad with cool, dry air and then, if possible, laying the inflatable pad in the sun so the air inside can warm up. Once it has warmed up, open the valve and release the warm air that hopefully has some moisture in it from inside the pad. You may need to repeat this process multiple times, depending on how much moisture you have inside the sleeping pad. Two things to note with this process:

  1. Because air expands as it warms, do not completely fill the pad with cool, dry air. That will allow for the air to expand and not put stress on the seams or valve.
  2. Do not allow your pad to lay in direct sunlight for too long as you don't want it to get overheated. Just long enough to warm it up and allow the air to carry some of the moisture.

It also may be worth sealing the sleeping pad (with the valve open) in a plastic bag (or trash bag) with a silica gel packet or other moisture absorbing material. These can be found at almost any hardware store.

One option to help eliminate the need for using your breath is to use an air mattress pump when inflating your sleeping pad. Some are light enough to take backpacking! Additionally, any time you're not using your sleeping pad be sure to dry it out completely after each use and store with the valve open.

Hopefully this helps, thanks!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

wow, that is a great question! and I've often wondered about that with my own blow up mattress.

I know (most) mold can be cleaned up with just soap and water, so I imagine I could just use a funnel and pour in some hot soapy water and shake it up, but getting it to dry out via air through the nozzle would be problematic.

Might be able to pump dry air in via my vacuum cleaner and hang dry until water stopped dripping out.

(cue the research paper on mold, lol)

REI Member Since 1979