How to Inflate an Air Mattress? With or Without Pump!

by Max S
How To Inflate An Air Mattress

Do you own an air mattress but don’t know how to inflate it? Now’s the time to learn how to inflate an air mattress!

Yes, using an air pump is convenient, especially an electric one. But there are many other methods that you’ll walk away from this guide knowing. It’s important because these can save you in situations like:

  • guests staying overnight
  • emergency power interruptions
  • outdoor camping.

This complete guide will teach you different ways to quickly and easily inflate your air mattress. The methods that we’ll share utilise the following items:

  • Electric air pump
  • Foot air pump
  • Vacuum cleaner with reverse function
  • Hairdryer with cool setting
  • Garbage bag or any large plastic bag

Inflating an Air Mattress With a Pump

Different pumps are available for use on an air mattress. In this section, we’ll discuss inflating air mattresses

  • Using the built-in pump
  • Using a foot pump
  • Using external electric pumps

Method 1: Using a Built-in Pump

3 built in pumps within in an air mattress
Image Source: Walmart.

Getting an air mattress with a built-in pump will save you from the manual pumping of a mattress. It is one of the most convenient ways to inflate an air bed. A built-in pump is an internal pump in an air mattress that can be powered through the main electricity source or rechargeable batteries.

Related Read:  How to Inflate an Air Mattress With a Built-in Pump Without Electricity?

Pittman air mattress
Image source: Walmart

Usually, these built-in pumps also come with a deflate function that you can use to quickly deflate a mattress whenever you want to store it or travel with it.

To inflate an air mattress with a built-in pump:

  • Place the mattress on a flat surface.
  • If you have an air mattress with an electric plug, insert the power cord into an outlet. Otherwise, if the one you have is with a detachable and rechargeable battery, attach the battery to the built-in pump of the mattress.
  • Set the control to “inflate” or the icon relating to inflate.
  • Turn on the pump and let it inflate up to your firmness preference.

Method 2: Using a Foot Pump

A foot pump is a manual pump that consists of a foot pedal connected to a hose and nozzle. Using a foot pump is a practical option because it does not require any electricity. Although it can be exhausting as you must repeatedly pump the pedal to get air into your mattress.

Foot pumps are handy when camping with no electrical power points, or if you’re in a tent in the middle of the wilderness as it’s portable.

Yellow pump for mattress
Image Source: Amazon.

To inflate using a foot pump:

  • Open the valve cover on the mattress.
  • Insert the pump nozzle into the valve opening.
  • Compress the foot pump by pressing down on it until you get to your preferred firmness.
  • Screw the protective cap back onto the valve opening when the mattress is fully inflated.

Method 3: Using an External Electric Pump

An electric air pump may or may not be included with your current air mattress when you first bought it. Otherwise, you can purchase this separately. Electric air pumps require an electrical power source to work. This is handy at home, but may not be suitable for camping areas without an electricity source.

Electric air pump with connector
Image Source: Amazon.

To inflate using an external electric pump:

  • Place the pump nozzle into the open air valve.
  • Plug the power cord into an electrical outlet.
  • Turn the power on and inflate up to your preferred firmness.

Inflating an Air Mattress Without a Pump

Going manual is the way to go if you don’t own any air pumps. But, be warned, it can take you a long time. We’ll share some clever tips on manually pumping an air mattress using items already in your home.

Method 1: Using a Vacuum in Reverse

Your vacuum usually has a reverse function that can blow air instead of sucking air. You can use this as an alternative pump if you have a vacuum cleaner.

Note: Make sure to use a clean vacuum and remove the dust bag first; otherwise, you’ll blow dirt into your mattress.

To inflate using a vacuum cleaner:

  • Set your vacuum cleaner in reverse function and remove the dust bag.
  • Place the nozzle on your mattress’ inflation valve. If your vacuum has a narrower nozzle, you can use that instead.
  • Secure the nozzle using duct tape so that the air can be sealed.
  • Start the vacuum and inflate the mattress up to your desired firmness.

Method 2: Using a Hairdryer on Low Heat

Hairdryers can also be used as an alternative pump to blow air into your mattress. Although some require an electricity source, some portable hairdryers only work with batteries.

Note: It is crucial to use only cool air to blow air on your mattress for this method. Too much heat can damage your mattress by deforming your mattress’s plastic or vinyl material.

To inflate using a hairdryer:

  • Set your hairdryer on cool mode.
  • Place the hairdryer nozzle on your mattress’ inflation valve.
  • Secure the nozzle using duct tape so that the air can be sealed.
  • Start the vacuum and inflate the mattress up to your desired firmness.

Method 3: Using a Garbage Bag

You might think that this is a joke. But really, using a garbage bag is a method people swear by. This is a creative alternative instead of blowing air using your lungs. Mouth blowing is exhausting for sure.

man inflating air mattress with black bin bag
CrazyRussianHacker. Source: YouTube.

To inflate using a garbage bag:

  • Swing a heavy-duty garbage bag around to trap air inside.
  • Then, with the open end of the bag around the air bed’s opening valve, squeeze the bag to force the air into the mattress.
  • Repeat until the air bed is completely inflated.


There are multiple ways to inflate your air mattress. You can use manual and electrical air pumps or even things found in your home. Nevertheless, knowing these ways to inflate your mattress can come in handy in emergency situations like camping or if there’s no electricity.

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.