ideas for repurposing or donating leaky air mattress
October 5, 2018 2:02 PM   Subscribe

Is there _anything_ you can think of I can do with this air mattress other than throwing it away or keeping it?

Apparently, most air mattresses can't be recycled. I have a working/non-leaky air mattress, so it's not really worth it to keep this one, plus it leaks so much that there is definite slouch after one night -- not great for comfort.

It seems like just donating it to the Salvation Army or elsewhere wouldn't be a good idea -- or would it? Would they patch it?

I looked for the leak myself but couldn't find it, though I didn't try very hard.

I'd love to keep this much plastic out of the landfill if I could. Any ideas?

I'm in Chicago if that matters.
posted by amtho to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
If you really don't want it to go to waste, would you be willing to look for the hole again? Filling the bathtub and putting it in there (only partly inflated so you can at least maneuver the whole thing though) to look for where the bubbles are coming from should get the hole(s) located quickly. I think the Salvation Army is likely to throw it out if it leaks.
posted by hollyholly at 2:11 PM on October 5


It's a queen-sized air mattress. I don't think it will fit in the bathtub. Or under the (non-removable) shower curtain rod.
posted by amtho at 2:16 PM on October 5


Repurpose - Use the flattened mattress (possibly split open, if it's single width) as a dropcloth for your next messy paint/DIY project? Cut into pieces to line the shelves beneath the sink cabinets? As a blackout liner for that one super-sunny bedroom window? Other ideas.
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:17 PM on October 5 [4 favorites]


Cut it open and use it as a camping tarp. Or cut off the top and bottom and sew some fleecy fabric on to make waterproof picnic blankets.
posted by ananci at 2:18 PM on October 5 [8 favorites]


Scroll down here for test directions using a spray bottle or a sponge instead of the immersion method.
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:20 PM on October 5 [3 favorites]


someone at the next Community Glue Repair Clinic might be able to help you find the hole, patch the hole, or both.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 2:38 PM on October 5


As a Chicagoan who lived on air mattresses for a few years, toss it. There's really no better option.
posted by WCityMike at 2:59 PM on October 5


It is no longer a mattress, it is a source of plastic sheeting.

If you need plastic sheeting, this is good. If you do not, then it is now garbage.

Sorry. Plastics can be total bastards to recycle.
posted by aramaic at 4:19 PM on October 5


Any access to a swimming pool to check for the leak? I guess one with lower levels of chlorine. Sorry if this is obvious.
posted by Armed Only With Hubris at 5:11 PM on October 5


If you don't need it yourself for plastic sheeting, I would try to freecycle it, if you have one in your community. Maybe someone else would be willing to invest time in finding the leak or have an idea for a perfect use.
posted by metahawk at 5:18 PM on October 5 [2 favorites]


One way to find the hole is by inflating the mattress and applying a thin layer of dish soap. Hopefully it’s not one of those mattresses with all the flocking. Look for bubbles forming. As long as it’s a simple puncture and not some seam failure, you can extend its useful life with a patch kit.
posted by oxisos at 5:50 PM on October 5 [2 favorites]


I use part of an old air mattress under my Christmas tree, under the tree skirt. Any spilled water is easy to clean up and doesn't reach the carpet or wood floor underneath. The double layer of thick plastic is perfect because it doesn't tear or allow the tree stand to scratch the floor. Could be good under large houseplants, too.

If you're starting a garden, you could use it to kill grass.
posted by fussbudget at 5:53 PM on October 5 [1 favorite]


An unrepairable air mattress is an excellent super-heavy-duty tarp under a boat & trailer. The wheels want to sink into the earth; the thick plastic deters this, and keeps down weeds where they can't be mowed. A fairly specific use.

As oxisis notes, fill it, use a paint brush to apply detergent-y water, put a weight on the mattress so the leak is active - a small child may enjoy the task. I needed to repair a rubber float; Walmart had a patch kit.
posted by theora55 at 7:50 PM on October 5


I posted it to Freecycle, but I'm not optimistic.

I've thought about the soapy-water-bubble approach, but there are challenges: the hole is likely to be along a seam, and the seams stick out and fold over a bit; I'm in a high-rise unit full of carpet (the kitchen's too small for the mattress) and I'm not keen to get soapy water on the floor; one side of the mattress is slightly textured/fuzzy (flocked?) so I'm not sure how well it will work.

Thanks for the suggestions so far!
posted by amtho at 8:49 PM on October 5


Planter box lining
posted by aniola at 2:15 PM on October 6


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