How to Deflate an Air Mattress (2022)

Caping in the outdoors.
Table of Contents

    Air mattresses are a wonderfully comfortable and convenient alternative to a traditional bed, whether you’re at home or on the road. If you’ve ever slept on one, you know they make a much preferable alternative to sleeping on the couch or the floor. The can provide houseguests with a comfortable place to stay the night, or campers an easier night’s sleep while on the road. Deflating an air mattress may seem like an obviously easy task, but a lot of people actually struggle to do it correctly. It’s important to know how to do it the right way, especially when you’re packing it up to be stored for later use.

    The easiest way to fully deflate your air mattress is using a good quality 4D battery or 120v electrical pump. Air mattresses are designed to be portable, so the importance of properly deflating one relates directly to its ease of transportation. Properly deflating an air mattress means you’ll be able to pack it up in a more efficient manner, meaning its easier to store and transport. You can find the instructions for deflating your air bed in the manual it arrived with, but sometimes these instructions aren’t very clear, and if you’ve lost the manual then you’ll struggle even more. There are several different types of air mattresses which all require different techniques to inflate and deflate, but with all types, it becomes easier with an air pump.

    Note: Looking for the best air mattress on the market? Browse the best air mattresses for camping here.

    A campsite.

    The perfect campsite includes a tent with an inflatable mattress and a hammock to rest in.


    Benefits of inflatable mattresses

    One main advantage of having an airbed is having full control over the firmness of your mattress. Especially when it’s used in-home as a permanent or main bed, you can set it to be as soft or as firm as suits you. Simply add more air for a firmer surface, or let some out if you like it on the softer side. This is also ideal for house guests, as everyone prefers their bed a little differently.

    The adjustable nature of air mattresses is also a big benefit for those of us who suffer from back pain or other types of joint and body pains. Some nights the bed may be too soft, but with a quick adjustment, you can make the bed firmer and sleep more soundly. The same works vice versa, on nights where you need the mattress to be softer, it can be deflated just a little with complete ease. Almost every full-size air mattress has two or more separate inner chambers, which means the two sides of the bed can be of varying firmness. This is great if you’re sharing the bed with a partner, and you both have different firmness preferences. Here’s to no more arguments!

    Air mattresses are also wonderfully odor free- because of the PVC material most manufacturers use, air beds won’t get any strange smells you might find come along with, for example, a memory foam mattress. Although you may not think it, air mattresses actually have longer lifespans than traditional foam or spring mattresses. PVC is hard-wearing, and the ability to counter sagging issues means an air bed can easily last you 15 years. More often than not, on beds with internal pumps, the air pump will actually fail first, but these can be easily replaced at a low cost.

    Air mattresses are much more affordable than traditional mattresses, with well-known brands like Coleman and Intex selling a twin mattress for as little as $30. On the other hand, a twin memory foam mattress will easily set you back $300, so air mattresses are a much more fiscally friendly option. Air beds are also incredibly versatile. They can be used indoors or outdoors, for camping or for visiting houseguests. They can be laid across the backseat on road trips, much more comfortable than sleeping directly on the car seat.


    Downsides to inflatable mattresses

    One con of using a fixed or long term usage air mattress is the lengthy assembly. A large air bed can take up to 60 minutes to fully assemble and may require two people. Some air bed owners complain of noisy pumps, especially the cheaper ones, however since the pumps are only used rarely, this shouldn’t be much of a problem.

    Because all mechanical tools break down eventually, and because air pumps are mechanical in nature, it’s likely you’ll have to replace some air pumps in the lifetime of your inflatable mattress. Especially considering your reliance on the built-in pump, if that’s the kind of air bed you have, this could be an issue for some purchasers. Always check if you’re still within warranty if your air pump gives out.


    Two campers rest on a ledge.

    Properly deflating your air mattress will allow you to easily pack it up, giving you peace of mind.


    Preparing to deflate your air mattress

    You should always aim to deflate your air bed on a flat and hard surface. Your mattress needs to be stable while you deflate it, as it contains a lot of air under relatively high pressure, so when deflating it’s possible it may behave a little unpredictably. Remove anything on the mattress, like pillows, duvet covers, mattress toppers and any other items that might be on the bed. Make sure to check for any small or fragile objects on or around the bed, like reading glasses and mobile phones.


    How to deflate an air mattress with an internal pump

    Some air beds come with internal or built-in pumps. These are designed for effortless inflation and deflation, to make the process as easy as possible. This means you should have no trouble getting your air bed fully deflated for storage or travel. The first step to properly deflating these kinds of air beds is to flip the pump to “deflate”. This may appear as a minus sign, or a “0”, depending on the model of your air mattress. Now you need to let the pump do its work. Depending on the model of your mattress and its pump, the air may deflate quickly, or it may need some time. The pump will slowly suck the air out of the mattress and it will begin to deflate.

    Most air beds equipped with an internal pump will deflate in a matter of minutes. Once you are satisfied that there’s no air left in your mattress, you can switch off the internal pump and pack it away. One great advantage to these mattresses is that they do not require supervision to deflate. There are huge benefits to having an airbed with an inbuilt pump, as they’re the most convenient by a long shot. At the simple push of a button, you can make small adjustments to the firmness of the bed by inflating or deflating just a little. 


    A tent at night.

    The perfect air mattress will allow you to sleep well at night, especially on rugged terrains.


    How to deflate an air mattress with an external air pump

    If your air mattress doesn’t have a built-in pump, you can still use an external pump to more effectively deflate it. When looking at your external pump, you should be able to spot at least two main openings where the nozzle attaches, one narrow and one wide. Attach the nozzle to the wider opening.

    Looking at your air bed, you should be able to see two air valves. The wide-mouth valve is the one you should open to deflate the bed, whereas the narrow valve on your air mattress is for filling up the bed. To deflate, hook the nozzle on your external pump to the deflate valve on your air mattress. Now, simply turn the pump on. It will instantly start to suck the air out of the mattress and the air bed will begin to deflate. You will be able to hear and see this happen, so you know it’s working effectively, the pressure will be instantly released by the valve.

    If your pump doesn’t make perfect contact with the valve on your air bed, you may have some issues with the bed deflating more slowly. You may need to hold the pump while your air bed deflates, in order to make sure the pump maintains contact. You can also gently press on the air mattress to squeeze the air out, applying any pressure to the mattress will speed up the process of deflation.


    How to deflate an air mattress using a foot pump

    If you don’t have an electrical pump, but you’re lucky enough to own a good old-fashioned foot pump, you can use this to deflate your air mattress as well. You’ll need to place the nozzle in the valve of your air bed the same way you did when inflating. However, you must move the hose on the manual pump to the deflate valve.

    Now, simply step on the pump with your foot, and the pressure will gradually suck all the air out of your inflatable bed. Like with the external electric pump, you can use gentle pressure on areas of the air mattress to speed up the deflation process. Once the air bed is fully deflated, you can simply fold and roll it up, and pack it into a bag for later use.


    How to deflate an air mattress without a pump

    If you don’t have access to any sort of air pump, your final option is to simply use your body weight to push out the air. Make sure you open the deflation valve as wide as possible, and then gently press out the air from the mattress using your hands and knees. Just keep applying pressure, and you should be able to flatten your mattress for storage in about 10 minutes.


    A bed outdoors.

    Air mattresses are also wonderfully odor free- because of the PVC material most manufacturers use.


    Ensuring the air mattress is fully deflated

    When deflating your air bed, you want to make sure there’s as much air as possible being removed. No matter which method you employ to deflate, the final step should be to roll up the mattress, starting at the opposite side to where your valve is. This doesn’t mean you have to store the mattress rolled up, you can re-fold it afterward. Rolling up the mattress just makes sure you get the last little bits of air out, just think of it like a tube of toothpaste. It’s important to get as much air as possible out of your mattress, as storing it with air bubbles inside can leave it at a higher risk or developing holes or tears. This kind of damage can seriously hinder the usefulness of your mattress, or even ruin it altogether.


    Storing a deflated air mattress

    Your air mattress manual will typically have some directions on how to best store it. Some come with a storage bag, where the mattress should be rolled and then folded in. Others are just designed to be folded up and put into a box. Try to keep your inflatable mattress in sturdy cardboard or plastic container, to protect it from anything that may damage it. Most camping mattresses are designed to be rolled and folded as small as possible, so they can be more efficiently transported. Others are designed only for home use, so they will be a little larger in concession to comfort. Properly deflating and storing your air mattress will do wonders to increase its longevity, and help keep it in pristine condition, so next time you have overnight guests, you won’t have to worry about where they’ll sleep.


    Best air mattress for permanent use

    Each day, more and more people choose air mattresses for everyday use, due to their comfort, convenience, and price. Air mattresses also make a great choice for those who are bedridden, as they alleviate the long term pressure that causes bedsores. When buying a mattress you should consider what its use will be. Our number one recommendation for everyday use is the SoundAsleep Dream Series Air Mattress. This amazing air bed features forty internal air coils, which both enhance durability and provide great support to the user. It boasts a patented one-click internal pump, which works to inflate as well as deflate the mattress.

    It can actually be fully inflated within four minutes, so it serves well for both occasional and regular use. This mattress is queen-sized and has dual chamber constructions, meaning two sleepers can modify their respective sides to suit them best. It also has a Sure Grip bottom to prevent sliding. This mattress is waterproof and made with extra thick, multi-layered, puncture-resistant material. It comes with a carry bag for transport and storage, and a one year guarantee. The built-in pump is optimized for low power consumption and is soundless, meaning you can leave it on all night without being disturbed.


    Best air mattress for camping

    Many campers nowadays use air mattresses as opposed to sleeping mats or hammocks, to ensure they get a sound night of sleep on their trip. Gone are the days where camping was instantly associated with sleeping on the cold, hard ground. There are now plenty of options for modern-day campers to get a luxurious night of sleep on their adventure vacation.

    The Etekcity Camping Portable Air Mattress is specifically designed to fulfill the needs of campers. It features a supportive 9-inch-high structure that won’t sink when it receives weight, taking the strain off your back and legs. This air bed also cleverly comes with a rechargeable battery operated pump, which enables your air mattress to be inflated in a matter of minutes with total ease, no huffing and puffing, and no need for an electricity connection. Simply recharge your pump when you get home, or plug it into your car! This lovely air bed also includes a travel bag for ease of storage and portability. In total, the weight comes to about 10 lbs, which is a light load compared to other air mattresses on the market, so it’s an option worth considering for even backpackers. Available in both twin and queen sizes, this mattress is a great option for any camper looking for a little bit more comfort and luxury.


    Final Verdict:

    When deflating an air mattress, you first need to know what you’re dealing with. An in-built air pump will make your job the easiest, and although they might need replacing every now and again, they aren’t that expensive, and we consider them worth the investment. Otherwise, a decent external electrical air pump will make your job a lot easier when deflating and packing away an air mattress. You could even look into pumps you can power using your car, which you’ll find are a godsend on camping trips, especially group ones where everyone’s got a mattress to inflate.

    If all else fails, you can always deflate your air mattress the old fashioned way- sit on it! Just be careful if you’re using your body weight to deflate your mattress, avoid sudden heavy pressure and of course sharp objects. Remember our guidelines for deflating any type of air bed- do it on a hard and level surface, and clear the area and the bed of any personal belongings, especially fragile ones. There are plenty of useful benefits to air mattresses, and following our guidelines to properly deflate yours will make sure you get the most out of your air bed, keeping it in good condition and making it last. If you’re camping, an air mattress isn’t the only bag of air that’ll keep you comfy. Have a look at our buying guide for inflatable camping couches, so you can stay chilled day or night.


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    Riley Draper

    Riley Draper is a writer and entrepreneur from Chattanooga, Tennessee. As a world traveler, he has been to more than fifty countries and hiked some of the most elusive trails in the world. He is the co-founder of WeCounsel Solutions and has published work in both national and global outlets, including the Times Free Press, Patch, and Healthcare Global. When he's not writing, he's probably on a hiking trip or climbing in the mountains.