In case you’ve never seen one in action, air mattresses are pretty cool.
Despite collapsing into a package no larger than a couple of rolled-up sleeping bags, they can be inflated to queen size in only minutes. This means you can sling them into the trunk of a car and go camping in true royal luxury.
It’s also a great idea to keep one in a closet at home in case you need to accommodate a couple of houseguests. Kids just love them and, depending on what kind you buy, they can easily stand up to a pair of adults using them for several months at a stretch.
Shopping for an air mattress, however, is almost as difficult as deciding on the most affordable cellphone plan. In both cases, all of them are roughly similar, but differences that seem tiny on paper matter a lot.
As far as air mattresses are concerned, some are basically glorified pool floats. Heavily reinforced, sure, but the same basic design. Others have automatic pumps that keep their firmness constant or collapsible frames to raise them above the ground or floor.
Besides these obvious distinctions, there are a number of “small print” differences between air mattresses you may have questions about. The following answers should be of help while you’re scanning through air mattress reviews.
How to Inflate an Air Mattress?
Depending on the model you buy, you can huff and puff like the Big Bad Wolf while sweating over a manual pump, plug your air mattress into the wall, or use a battery-powered pump that makes wilderness camping much more convenient.
Some air mattresses can be inflated using either an integral electrical pump or another, external pump you’ll need to buy separately.
How to Fold an Air Mattress?
As with tents and sleeping bags, collapsing and properly storing an air mattress is much more time-consuming than setting it up. Following the manufacturer’s instructions will be a great help, as will keeping a few commonsense tips in mind:
How to Clean an Air Mattress?
Most air mattresses come with a felt-like fabric on top to insulate occupants from the cold and keep them from sliding off. If this is getting smelly, sprinkle some baking soda on it, leave for a few minutes, and vacuum thoroughly.
Then, lightly dampen a soft cloth with rubbing alcohol or a half-half mixture of white vinegar and water and wipe down all the surfaces. If you see or smell signs of mold appearing, leaving the mattress in the sun for an hour or two should take care of the problem.
What Size Is a Queen Air Mattress?
Standard sizes for all kinds of mattresses are supposed to be identical. In practice, manufacturers of air mattresses are not very diligent about this, the material they’re made of stretches over time, and under- or over-inflation plays a role.
The following diagram gives the nominal dimensions of all U.S sizes:
How to Find a Hole in an Air Mattress?
If your mattress is losing pressure faster than normal, there are several methods you can use to locate the leak. One is by far the easiest and most reliable, though:
How to Repair an Air Mattress Leak?
The fact that many air mattresses are supplied with a patching kit shouldn’t be taken as an indication of poor quality. Conversely, none of them are going to remain airtight forever – but a bit of DIY will allow you to get a couple of months’ extra use out of them. This is another topic where showing is easier than telling:
How to Keep Sheets on an Air Mattress?
Air mattresses typically aren’t the same thickness as their regular counterparts, making the corners of fitted sheets even more likely to go a-wandering during the night.
How to Make an Air Mattress Comfortable?
If good lumbar support is important to you, we have some bad news: air mattresses just aren’t as comfortable as high-end spring beds. There are some things you can do, though: