How to Blow Up an Air Mattress Without a Pump?

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Written by: Alex Savy
Read 8 minLast updated on February 22, 2023

Usually, air mattresses come with a pump to inflate and deflate them. But what if the pump is broken or if you’re out in the wild and don’t have any electric power source nearby?

Don’t worry!

I’ve prepared a few tips on how to blow up an air mattress without a pump. You can use a vacuum, a hairdryer, a leaf blower — basically, anything that blows air — or even a garbage bag!

Read on for step-by-step instructions.

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How to Blow Up an Air Mattress Without a Pump Using Home Appliances?

If your electric pump broke down while you’re at home, don’t panic:

You can use literally any home appliance that creates a directed airstream — be it your vacuum, leaf or snow blower, or even a hairdryer — and easily inflate your air mattress.


A vacuum is the most used unconventional method to inflate your airbed without a pump. If your model has a hose attachment and an exhaust feature (or reverse mode), you’re all set.

So, here’s what you need to do:

  • Make sure that your vacuum is clean. Remove the dirtbag or container and run the vacuum without it for 10-15 seconds to make sure there’s no debris left in the hose.
  • Replace your standard cleaning nozzle with a thin one. Or, if you don’t have a nozzle for hard-to-reach spaces, just use the hose without one.
  • Lay your airbed flat on the floor. This will ensure fast and uniform inflation.
  • Attach the vacuum hose to the inflation valve. You might need to adjust it a bit until it’s completely tight, or purchase an adapter in the nearest hardware store.
  • Turn the exhaust mode on and inflate your mattress. If your model allows for regulating the stream power, start with the lowest speed and gradually increase it. Thus, you won’t put too much stress on mattress seams.

That’s it! Just wait until your mattress is fully inflated, remove the hose and close the valve.

“You can do the same trick with your car vacuum cleaner — assuming it has a reverse feature — and inflate your car airbed as well.”


A hairdryer can also be used as an alternative method of blowing up an airbed without a pump. However, there are a few nuances you should take into considerations:

  • Find a way to seal the connection. The outlet of your hairdryer might be too wide to fit into the inflation valve, so you may want to use an adapter — the same vacuum nozzle, for example — or create your own. Take a paper sheet and create a cone by wrapping one side around the hairdryer and fitting the other side into the inflation valve.
  • Don’t blow in the hot air. Most of the modern hairdryers have the cooling feature, so that’s what you should use to prevent damaging your airbed. Also, if your hairdryer starts to warm up, turn it off and let it cool down for a bit.
  • Practice closing the valve quickly. Airbed valves may require an effort to close them, which puts you at risk of losing the air you’ve been trying to blow in so hard. So, take some time to practice opening and closing the valve without losing much air.

The process itself is almost the same as with the vacuum method:

  • connect the hairdryer to the inflation valve and turn it on;
  • use high power and cold air settings;
  • inflate the airbed until the desired volume is achieved, then turn the hairdryer off and close the valve.

“It’s better to leave your air mattress slightly underfilled than to fill it too tightly. Overfilling will put stress on the seams, which might result in premature wear and tear as well as air leaks.”

Leaf Blower

You’ve got the point here:

If it can blow the air, it can be used for inflating your blow-up mattress.

So, if you have a leaf blower or snow blower, you can use either as a substitute for the pump. Create a tight connection between the blower and your mattress valve — you can use the vacuum hose as a mediator — and blow the air into the mattress, starting with the lowest setting.

Use a Manual Pump

Yes, the manual pump is still a pump, but if you often go backpacking and take your air mattress with you, it will come in handy.

You can count on hand, foot, or bike pumps, as they all do their job nearly on the same level.

  • Hand pump. The smallest of them all and yields the smallest air output, so it’s better to use it for pool inflatables or Twin-sized airbeds. Connect the pump to the inflating valve of your mattress and pump the air using your hands.
  • Foot pump. These are a bit bulkier but more effective as well. They can quickly inflate a Full-sized airbed or even a small motorboat and don’t require as much labor as the hand pump.
  • Bike pump. If you have a bicycle at your home, you probably have one of these as well. Bike pumps are pretty bulky, but they can produce the highest air output, compared to hand or foot pumps, so you can quickly inflate even the large airbed.

Manual pumps don’t depend on electricity and use your physical force to inflate the mattress, so you can use them outdoors or in places where electricity isn’t available.

How to Blow Up an Air Mattress Without a Pump Using a Bag?

Okay, now you won’t feel lost in case you face the need to inflate the airbed without a pump. 

But here’s the problem:

The vacuum, hairdryer, and leaf blower all require a power source to work.

And if you went camping, chances are that you won’t have access to any power source.

Don’t despair, though!

You can easily blow up your airbed with a simple garbage bag! — or even a regular plastic bag — but you’ll have to cut off the handles to make the open end even. 

So, here’s what you need to do:

  • Roll out your mattress and lay it flat. Be sure to inspect the surface for sharp objects because fixing the air mattress without a patch kit in camping conditions can be quite a hassle.
  • Collect the air in the bag. Just swing it around until it inflates, and then hold the open end tightly with your hands to keep the air inside.
  • Open the mattress valve and place the bag’s open end around it. You can secure it with rubber bands to create a tighter seal.
  • Press the air from the bag into the mattress. Increase the pressure gradually to prevent the bag from ripping. When all the air is inside the mattress, remove the bag and quickly close the valve.
  • Repeat until the mattress is inflated. This might take time, but eventually, your airbed will be ready to sleep on.

And this is it! Now you know how to blow your mattress without a pump even when you’re camping out.

Have you tried any of these? How did it go? Maybe you have your own hacks to share? Feel free to do so in the comments below!

Consider Investing in Self-Inflating Mattress

Or, instead of finding a way to inflate your mattress, you can invest in an airbed that requires no pump at all

These are called ‘self-inflating mattresses’ and they come in the form of a compressed foam slab, stuffed between the layers of fabric that create an air-tight envelope. The mattress also has a valve.

When you open the valve, it sucks the air in and expands the foam, so your mattress will be inflated and ready to use within a few minutes. You can give it a couple of squeezes from the sides to make the mattress suck in more air and regulate the firmness.

To deflate the mattress, simply roll it up, starting from the end that’s opposite to the valve, and then close the valve. 

Self-inflating airbeds are a great pick for backpacking, but you can use them to arrange a sleeping space for a late-night guest quickly. Their price can be higher than a standard airbed, but they’re immune to punctures and can serve you for years without losing their properties.

Additional resources:

How to Fold an Air Mattress?


  1. Just wanted tobsay i used the hair dryer method.
    It worked fantastic i spent about 12 hours yesterday trying to pump up an air matress with a ballooon pump.
    Lets just say it was a waste of time.
    Once I used the hair dryer it was filled within 5 mins time.
    Thank you, you saved me a lot of time and a lot of aggravation
    And new expensive pumps to buy
    Thank you ??

    1. Hello James,

      Thanks a lot for sharing your experience!

      I am very happy to hear that the hairdryer method worked for you! Glad you’ve saved yourself a lot of time and effort.

  2. I don’t understand the seal/closure air system; there is a top flap and then there is a thimble size part that is very hard to put in securely.
    I find no need for that apparatus so I want to glue it in with gorilla glue and use just that top flap to let air in and out bc it keeps popping out it’s very hard to get in <what’s going on(?)

    1. Hi Sabe,

      Thanks for visiting our website!

      The thimble size part you’re describing seems to be the valve that prevents the air from escaping when the air mattress is inflated (if I understood correctly).

  3. My pump valve won’t lock

  4. I buy Magellan air mattresses they keep getting tears and holes in the same spots on the seems they only last about two weeks before this happens. I bought one brand new that had a tear at the seam the box had tape on it so I guess someone brought it back and just repacked it not seeing that tear, it was hard to see and the air was going out really slow. Took that one back got a refund and bought two smaller ones. Surprise two weeks later they both have a hole on the seam. It’s frustrating I didn’t keep the receipt or boxes this time so I don’t think I can return them.

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