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

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Written by:

Max Stevens
How To Inflate An Air Mattress

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

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 manually pumping the air mattress – which is pretty laborious. A built-in pump is found within an air mattress powered through mains electricity or rechargeable batteries.

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.

How do you inflate your mattress which has a built in-pump?

  • Place the mattress on a flat surface.
  • If you have an air mattress with an electric plug, insert the power wire 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

While we wouldn’t advise using a foot pump if you have an electric pump, it’s a good alternative to inflating an air mattress without electricity. It takes a lot of time and effort as you manually pump air through a hose and nozzle using a pedal. Check the image below for a reference to what a foot pump looks like.

It’s always handy to bring a foot pump with you when camping with no electrical power points, or if you’re in a tent in the middle of the wilderness as they can be compressed and are pretty portable.

Yellow pump for mattress
Image Source: Amazon.

It may not be rocket science, but there are a few tips to keep in mind when inflating air mattresses using foot pumps:

  • Locate the valve on your air mattress
  • Open up the valve to insert the foot pump nozzle. They usually come with a few different nozzle sizes, so ensure to choose an appropriate size for the valve.
  • Put your foot on the foot pump pedal and push down, pressing the air directly into the mattress.
  • Quickly screw or plug the valve cap back once you have reached your desired firmness.

If your air mattress is rapidly losing it’s firmness you probably have a hole in your air mattress which is leaking air.

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 need 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.

What about if you have an external electronic air pump?

  • Place the nozzle into the air valve opening.
  • Plug the power wire into a mains source.
  • 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: How to Blow Up An Air Mattress With A Vacuum?

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

Note: Ensure you 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.
  • Keep the nozzle in place using duct tape to seal the air.
  • 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 blow up your air mattress 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 or Bin Bag

You might think that this is a joke. But really, using a bin bag is a method people swear by. This is a creative alternative instead of using just air from your lungs. Let’s face it, anything to not end up with the exhausting method of mouth blowing.

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

To inflate using a garbage bag:

  • In a standing position, open the bin bag and swing yourself around until the bin bag ‘parachutes’ and is full of air.
  • Then, wrap the bag opening around the air mattress valve. Squeeze the bag to force the trapped air into the air mattress.
  • You will need to repeat this a few times to make headway, but it’s quicker than manually blowing.


There are multiple ways to inflate your air mattress. You can use manual and electrical air pumps or other items 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.

Written by:

Max Stevens