How To Blow up an Air Mattress Without a Pump


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An air mattress is convenient, especially if you enjoy camping and hosting people in your home. They are comfortable, durable, and a much better option to sleep in than the ground or couch. The thing about air mattresses, though, is that they need to be inflated using a separate pump. 

But what if you do not have one or forget to carry one?

Fortunately, there are several other ways to pump your air mattress without a pump. These include:

  1. Using a hair dryer
  2. A vacuum cleaner
  3. A garbage bag
  4. A tire inflator
  5. A leaf blower
  6. Using your mouth

Note that the alternatives mentioned above might not work for all types of air mattresses. For example, most high-end air mattresses have more complex valve systems, requiring higher pressure to let the air pass in.

Now let us go into more detail and learn how to blow up an air mattress without a pump.

6 Creative Ways to Inflate an Airbed without a Pump:

Ways To Blow Up An Air Mattress Without A Pump

#1 Using a Hair Dryer

You can use a hair dryer to fill your mattress in two ways:

  1. Using the open end of the dryer as it is, or
  2. Attaching the top half of a plastic bottle at the end of the dryer

Method 1

  • Start by laying your airbed on the floor.
  • Connect your hair dryer to an electrical outlet.
  • Set your hair dryer to the cool setting so it blows cool air into the mattress.
  • Switch on your hair dryer and attach the end of it to the air valve on your mattress.

Note that some air will escape during this process because the end of a dryer is not the same size as the valve on your air mattress.

Hair Dryer Plastic Bottle Contraption
Image source: (Username: LAST2thePARTY)

Method 2 (Plastic Bottle) [More Efficient]

  • Take a used plastic bottle with a circumference big enough to fit into the end of your hair dryer.
  • Use scissors or a knife to cut the bottom half of the bottle.
  • Attach the top half of the bottle to the end of the hair dryer. The top of the bottle should fit properly onto your air mattress’s valve.
  • Lay your air mattress flat on the floor.
  • Connect your hair dryer to a socket and switch it on.
  • Ensure your blow dryer is on the cool setting.

Note that this method will not work if you do not have a hair dryer with a “cool” setting.


Because hot air from the blow dryer will melt and damage the plastic bottle and other materials in the air mattress. If your hair dryer doesn’t have a cool setting, you might be able to use the following method.

#2 Using Vacuum Cleaner

Fortunately, most vacuum cleaners have a reverse mode allowing them to blow instead of suck. This feature makes them a great tool to blow up your air mattress if you do not have a pump.

  • Set your vacuum cleaner to reverse mode.
  • Use a crevice attachment on your vacuum cleaner as it might improve the mattress’s air valve connection.
  • Turn on your vacuum and wait for your bed to fill up. It can fill up in ten seconds or take a few minutes.

Follow the steps below if you do not have a vacuum with a reverse flow mode:

  • Remove the hose and the bag of dirt from your vacuum
  • Attach the opposite end of the hose to the air mattress intake valve
  • You can use duct tape to ensure the connection is secure and no air is escaping
  • Turn on the valve and fill up your air mattress. 

Note that there are many types of vacuum cleaners, some of which do not need electricity to work (like a handheld or portable vacuums used for cleaning cars). Therefore, this can be an excellent option if you are an avid camper.

#3 Using a Garbage Bag

This might sound crazy, but it works!

…but it is not as fast as the other methods mentioned above.

  • Use a large* garbage bag if you have one because it will do the job faster.
  • Use scissors to cut a hole in one corner of the garbage bag.
  • Attach this open end to the mattress’s intake valve. Secure the connection using a rubber band or duct tape to prevent air loss.
  • Trap in the air around you using your hands with the big open end of the trash bag. You can blow in the air into a small bag if that is easier for you.
  • Squeeze the trapped air into the mattress by laying on the trash bag to save time.
  • Repeat this process until your mattress is full.

*This method works best with heavier trash bags like lawn, leaf, or contractor’s bags because they are less likely to tear during the process.

#4 Using a Tire Inflator

A tire inflator typically works the same way as an air compressor, but it is much smaller and might take longer to fill up your mattress than an air compressor.

Here’s how to use a tire inflator to inflate an air mattress:

  • The first step is to attach the end of your inflator’s output valve to your air mattress valve.
  • If the ends do not match, use duct tape to seal them together.
  • Switch on your tire inflator and wait for your air mattress to fill up.

Because of their size, tire inflators are a convenient alternative because of their portability. It is a convenient thing to have, especially if you are a camping person.

#5 Using Leaf Blower

A leaf blower is noisy but may also come in handy to blow up your airbed.

Here’s how:

  • Lay your air mattress on the floor. It is best to do this outdoors in your yard, especially if using a gas-powered leaf blower.
  • Attach the end of the leaf blower to the mattress valve.
  • The ends might not fit properly, but you can use your hands to cover the top or make a contraption using a plastic bottle to direct the air into the mattress effectively.
  • You can also attach one crevice nozzle from your vacuum cleaner onto the leaf blower’s end to fit onto the mattress’s intake valve.
  • Turn on your leaf blower and wait for your mattress to fill up. Similar to the vacuum method, this process should take a short time.

#6 Use Your Mouth

This method should be your last resort as it takes a long time and will leave you exhausted!

Using your lungs works best with an airbed with a one-way valve because a two-way valve will leak air out during the process and end up being a waste of time.

  • First, sanitize the air nozzle on your air mattress.
  • Take a deep breath and blow into your air mattress.
  • Use your lips to create a tight seal between your mouth and the airbed.
  • Repeat the process until your mattress is filled.

Check the Valve System

Note that air mattresses have valve systems preventing air from leaking. So, you must ensure that your hair dryer, vacuum, etc. have enough pressure to open the valve. If it does not, you must insert a small stick into the valve to keep it open, allowing air to fill up your mattress.

You can do this by following the steps below: 

  • Take a matchstick or any small stick.
  • Insert the stick into the air mattress valve and pop open the cap.
  • The stick should be long enough to stick out at the top keeping the valve open.
  • Insert the end of your vacuum cleaner, hair dryer, etc., onto your airbed’s valve.
  • Switch the device on and fill up your air mattress.

Closing Thoughts

Finally, if the above methods seem like a hassle, the best option is to invest in a self-inflating or built-in pump air mattress. This way, you do not have to worry about getting a separate pump. It might cost you more than your average airbed, but it is worth the upgrade.

James Lee

James Lee

James is the content director at WhatASleep, a certified sleep science coach from Spencer Institute and our in-house sleep product expert. Over three years, he's personally tested hundreds of mattresses. He likes to keep his reviews simple, objective, and straightforward so that the readers don't have to go through decision fatigue which is often the case while shopping for sleep products.

He hails from Sydney and has a journalism degree from the University of Queensland and an MBA from Melbourne Business School.


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