I have an old six-reed inflatable camping mattress -- one of the ones with six long parallel chambers that you inflate with lung power. It looks similar to this one.


The chambers are sealed with the typical pop-up soft plastic nozzles commonly seen on inflatable water toys -- something like this.


These nozzles don't have a one-way valve flap on the inside, so when the stopper comes out, the chamber deflates very quickly.

This mattress has served me well for (very) occasional use over several years, but it gave me an unpleasant surprise this summer. Although the nozzles look fine, the stoppers now seem to be suffering from a lack of friction: even without someone lying on the mattress, they work themselves out within an hour or so and the mattress deflates.

There are various experimental treatments I've been considering (roughening the stoppers with sandpaper, treating them with solvents, covering them with clingfilm, etc.) but first I'd like to know whether anyone else has experienced a similar problem, and whether they've found an effective cure for it.

(The mattress in question is currently in another country and I won't be able to get at it again to evaluate suggested fixes until December, but I will be grateful for any suggestions that I can try out when I do finally get the chance.)

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    Hi Pont! By any chance did you get those pictures from an internet site. You mentioned that your mattress was similar to the first picture, and that the second picture is an example. If those pictures aren't your own equipment, would you please add attribution? All you need is a link to the source, and that will take care of the requirement. Thanks! Commented Oct 7, 2018 at 0:01

2 Answers 2


Stick a cork in it. Or a rubber stopper. Or a wooden dowel (wet or waxed). See what you can find you might luck out.

You got me curious though and I’ve been googling. Sounds like your best bet may be replacing the valve with a valve from some other inflatable (something broken or discarded or just so cheap you don’t mind). This makes sense to me, many plastics do change over the years. Link and pictures below. Maybe not worth buying the can of glue unless you’ve got other projects.

The other good thing about that strategy is if you’re going to replace it you can try other things first without worrying too much about destroying it: sandpaper, simply cleaning with alcohol, high friction layer in between (a piece of balloon).


Still from the video, and the product pictured:

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    Thanks for the suggestions. Corks or lab-style rubber bungs are a good idea if I can get hold of any in the right size; ebay seems to have some promising listings. Replacing the valves is probably not worth the time and expense in this particular case (especially since there are six of them!) but might be practical for other airbeds -- I've seen a variant design with interconnected air chambers and a single valve, which would make replacement a lot more appealing.
    – Pont
    Commented Sep 7, 2018 at 10:42

I’m researching this very question right now for my inflatable bathtub pillow!

An idea I just found was to put a removable strip of material over the stopper once it’s on to keep the valve in. I am going to try some adhesive Velcro strips I have, but there are many other options (even duct tape in a pinch!)

After 6 years I’m sure you’ve got your answer but I figured I’d leave this suggestion for modern day folks with the same problem ;).

  • I wouldn't say "duct tape in a pinch", I would say "duct tape." remember the saying: "If you can't fix it with duct tape, you haven't used enough duct tape"? +1 even though you underestimate the versatility of duct tape!
    – ab2
    Commented Jun 25 at 2:49

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