How to Find a Hole in an Air Mattress? 6 Tried & Tested Methods

by Max S
How To Find A Hole In An Air Mattress

You just pumped your air mattress, but suddenly you hear a hissing sound. The dreaded sound of air leaving your heavenly place of sleep. So, how to find a hole in an air mattress? What about if you don’t have a pump? What about if you’re outside with no electricity?

Don’t worry – we’ve covered it all!

Finding the hole(s) quickly is critical so you can target exactly where the area that needs to be repaired is. And don’t think about ignoring it as the increased air pressure from you sleeping on the mattress can lead to enlargement of the hole.

This complete guide will teach you all the tips to easily find a hole in your air mattress. Read our guide on how to patch an air mattress if you’ve got to the end of this and found the hole.

6 Methods to Find the Hole in your Air Mattress

Before we begin with any of the 6 methods, you must find a space where there are no poking hazards like an empty room or wide living room. Avoid the outdoors or garage where there are lots of poking hazards. You don’t want to risk more holes when fixing your air mattress!

The methods we’ll be sharing involve minimal material requirements. But, be ready to use the following:

  • Air pump
  • Tissue paper or any thin paper
  • Dish soap and water
  • Refillable water spray bottle
  • Water hose
  • Outdoor pool or large bathtub

Tip: As you start, you might want to check the valves and seams as they are usually the first areas to deteriorate in an air mattress. Checking these locations could save you a lot of time and keep you from unnecessary searching.

Related Read: How To Inflate An Air Mattress?

Method #1: Hand Test

For this first method, you’ll only need your hands to feel any sign of air released around the mattress.

To start testing:

  • Inflate your mattress fully so that it’s easier to identify where the air is leaving the mattress due to the increased pressure.
  • Apply more downward pressure on the mattress’s body with your body or your other hand. If you’re with someone, you can ask them to assist you. This puts pressure on the mattress, so air is pushed out of the hole.
  • Once pressure is applied, start at one corner and move your hand near the surface.
  • Slowly go over the whole air mattress until you can feel the air hitting your hand.

Tip: You can try soaking your hand in cold water before going over the surface area. This makes it easier to feel the rush of air hitting your skin.

Method #2: Listening Test

For this method, you’ll need to be in a quiet room. Turn off any air conditioning or fans to hear the sound of the air hissing out.

To start testing:

  • Like the first method, you need to fully inflate your air mattress so that the air releasing pressure in the hole will be increased.
  • Place your ear close to the mattress surface.
  • Then, apply some pressure on the mattress with your body or your other hand. If you’re with someone, you can ask for help in applying pressure. This would force the air out of the suspected hole.
  • Start going through the surface area with your ear. Listen closely to any hissing or whistling sound. The sound should get louder as you get nearer the hole.

Method #3: Tissue Method

You need to be in a room without wind or air movement for this method. Just like the second method, you need to turn off any air conditioning or fans to increase the method’s effectiveness.  Here’s where you’ll need to use a thin tissue or any thin paper like crepe paper.

To start testing:

  • Just like the other methods, you need to start with a fully inflated air mattress so that the air is forced out of the hole.
  • Apply pressure on the mattress so it can push air outwards.
  • Place the tissue paper on the mattress surface.
  • Go over every area of the mattress slowly and observe if the tissue will move outwards the mattress.
  • You will detect the hole once the air pushes out the tissue lightly.

Method #4: Dish Soap Method

If you’ve been wondering where you need dish soap for, this is the method for it. If you’re not lucky finding the hole using the previous methods, it’s time to use soapy water. 

Be ready to get wet and prepare the area where you’ll be doing the inspection. You might also want to inspect outside the house where there is a large space and is alright to get wet.

To start testing:

  • Fully inflate your air mattress so that the air releasing pressure in the hole will be increased.
  • Make a soapy water mixture using dish soap and water.
  • Spray the soapy solution to the surface area. If you don’t have a spray, apply the solution carefully on the mattress surface.
  • Carefully examine every area while applying pressure on the mattress to release air.
  • Watch out for bubbles as these will form in the hole area because of air leaking out.

Note: It is important to just stick with dish soap to make sure that it is gentle enough not to damage the material of your air mattress. Some soap can be pretty harsh, and we don’t want our mattress to be further compromised.

Method #5: Pool Method

You can place your air mattress here to check for holes if you have a pool. Although some may check using their bathtub, it can be pretty tricky and a waste of time if the holes are in the areas that can’t be fully submerged in the bathtub.

To start testing:

  • Fully inflate your air mattress so that the air releasing pressure in the hole will be increased.
  • Fill up your tub (if your tub is large enough) or your outdoor pool.
  • Submerge your air mattress and apply pressure on the mattress so air will flow out.
  • You have located the hole once you start noticing tiny air bubbles.

Method #6: Garden Hose Method

If you don’t have a pool, you can try using your garden hose to look for the mattress hole.

To start testing:

  • Just like the other methods, inflate your air mattress fully so that the air releasing pressure in the hole will be increased.
  • Using the garden hose, slowly flow water over the mattress surface and observe.
  • When water flows over the hole, it will cause air bubbles to form.

Note: Be careful to just apply a slow water flow so you can clearly see the air bubbles.

What to Avoid When Finding Holes in your Air Mattress

If you have noticed, all the methods to find holes in your air mattress do not include harsh substances or materials. Remember to avoid using corrosive materials on your inflatable mattress that will cause it to deteriorate. Inflatable mattresses are usually made up of rubber, plastic, or vinyl. Use materials that won’t compromise or react with rubber, plastic, or vinyl.

When in doubt, always check the label or your mattress’ manual.


Finding a hole immediately after noticing your air mattress getting deflated is essential to prevent further damage to the mattress. You can easily spot a hole in your mattress with the methods above and use materials you can find in your home.

Photo of author


Max S

Chief Editor here at The Sleep Checklist. Suffered from a seemingly infinite knot in my thoracic area (between the spine and shoulder blade) due to my lifelong side sleeping habits. With my girlfriend, we look to provide the most relevant and best mattress advice.