How can I reuse or recycle … gone flat inflatables?

inflatable dolphinAn email from Melinda Goodick:

In the course of seasons, we have accumulated many inflatable mattresses and beach/pool toys and also sledding tubes from the winter. They were fun, but once they go flat, the fun is gone. What can we do with them besides their intended use?

I’m presuming by “go flat” Melinda means they haven’t got a valve for refilling with air. We’ve also run into similar “what shall we do with this?” issues in the past with inflatables when they’ve split along the seam and the holes too big to realistically puncture repair.

So, ideas?

(Photo by winjohn)

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30 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle … gone flat inflatables?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I imagine if cut into pieces, the material could be used to patch holes in other inflatables, or really for anything you could use a waterproof material for. Maybe you could make waterproof stuff sacks for camping gear…

  2. Delusion says:

    If they can be cut up, they could be used as weed control for the garden.

  3. J. Clifford says:

    Use them as packing material for fragile objects sent in the mail.

    For playgrounds, the material can be shredded to create a soft surface for children to play on.

    If it’s transparent, like the orange dolphin above, they could be cut into strips for use in interesting children’s art projects, or mood lighting in a teenager’s bedroom, when attached to a cage over a lightbulb.

    Those good with a sewing needle could create patchwork raincoats for the kids.

    I wouldn’t put plastic in the garden, though, as it’s going to interfere with the natural structure of the soil, and doesn’t decompose, so it tends to get all through the earth, creating dry little spots that roots can’t make use of.

  4. Frannie says:

    With enough of these inflatables, especially colourful ones, you can cut them up into equally-sized squares and piece them together to make a unique shower curtain (perhaps using epoxy or a glue gun to join pieces together).

    Use this same technique to make a tote bag for grocery shopping or going to the beach or a picnic.

  5. Katz says:

    you can cut flowers or other designs out of them and decorate some old beach or grocery bags with them – just sew them on top.

  6. Rex says:

    Instead of cutting them up why don’t you just fix them and donate them so others can enjoy them in as much time as it takes to make a tote bag or a shower curtain you could have an inflatable good as new.

  7. renee says:

    you could use them to cover kids exercise books.

  8. Katie says:

    I also have a lot of these inflammables; I was going to fill them with expanding foam ‘the sort you get from a DIY store’. Has any one tried this? Let us know.

  9. Sunny Days says:

    If by chance you have an animal head swim ring of which the animal head is the only piece that survives, you can cut it off at the base of the head leaving a border around it, get a new unused swim ring, cut out an airhole in the new swim ring where on top you can glue and seal the animal head on.Make sure the air holes are on top of each other.
    Then you have a new animal head swim ring that you can use.

  10. chris says:

    or you can send them to me for professional repair, or donate them, i fix them up, and pass them on.

    • Maureen says:

      I have an inflatable mattress that has a puncture, but i can’t find the place to repair it. The mattress is quite heavy and so not very good for any of the suggestions on this page. Would you be able to repair it, or, if not, do you have any ideas where I could donate it. I live in Cambs.

      • Anonymous says:

        If able all you have to do is immerse the inflatable in water to see where the hole is. Water bubbles should come out of hole
        seen when immersed underwater.
        Mark the place after where the hole is and either you can fix the hole, or someone else can repair it.

    • Holly says:

      I have a queen size inflatable mattress that got to close to a heater. We have tried to mend it, but have not succeeded. I would be glad to send it to you if you could fix it or know where to recycle it. I live in Montana and have called all of the recycling centers they told me to throw it the landfill, but I do not want to do that.

    • Rob Raikes says:

      Airbeds with tiny holes somewhere, but I don’t know and can’t find where. Please mend them and pass then on. Where do i send them?

  11. Gulia says:

    Stuff them with cotton to make a floor pillow for children.

  12. ana says:

    We used to mend inflatables (pools, toys, matresses) with those little ready-to-use patchs for mending bycicles tyres. They only cover a round small area. Also, we kept a small piece of a broken inflatable toy, along with soft-plastic glue, to mend other items.

  13. Ruti says:

    You can sew a pencil case from them.

  14. David says:

    Like I said before on this website if you have a family sized inflatable paddling pool then why not turn it into a dress alla Karl Lagerfelt

  15. Lizzy says:

    If it’s unrepairable , you could cut the “panels” of the plastic out, and if you have several items of the sort, make some sort of retro anorak maybe? Alternitavely you could always use it for covering stuff to make it waterproof

  16. says:

    inflatable recycling and inflatable repair, contact us on

  17. Repair and recycling, purchase of older and unusual inflatables, drop me a line at for info on repairs, carrying out repairs, buying and selling inflatables.

    Dont bin it till you have contacted me.

  18. Lorri says:

    My friend has made raincoats for her children using using the inflatable valve on a pocket. It looks really cute, just remember to make little punch holes under the arms (and reinforce them) so it doesn’t get too hot for them. You could also make rain trousers too. I’ll be trying to repair mine first though with a bike patch kit.

  19. Sunny Days says:

    Hello again! I will take any free donations of animal head swim rings (complete enclosed ring) and animal head split rings (ring open at the back) that are size 24 in. (61 cm.) length and width or larger both ways, that are new or used that you no longer want, if you cover the shipping and handling costs to send them to my address. Any kinds of animals are acceptable: Mammals, birds, dinosaurs, mythological creatures, sea creatures, insects, sea mammals, etc. I am a private collector who enjoys using them in the local Disability/Physiotherapy indoor pool in Canada and love collecting them. An example of a great large one is the Intex Big Animal Swim Ring. Cat. No. 58221, ex. for Intex, #58221NP, for Walmart (2010,2011)-#58221MY. And even the larger Sit-in ones where there is a seat for legs. And in both cases the head is standing up at a 90 degree angle and is facing ahead in front of you on the swim ring.
    Your donations would be much appreciated. Thank you very much.
    To contact me for mailing details please contact:

  20. Anonymous says:

    i am looking for a place where they recycle pool rings?

    • Wayne Lenahan says:

      I will take any free donations of new, used, broken but fixable, or unwanted animal swim rings or animal split rings if you are willing to cover the shipping and handling charges to send them to Canada. I like to use them in a disabled/physiotherapy pool.

    • Wayne Lenahan says:

      I will take any free donations of new, used, broken but fixable, or unwanted animal swim rings or animal split rings if you are willing to cover the shipping and handling charges to send them to Canada. I like to use them in a disabled/physiotherapy pool. I can be reached at:

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  22. Mary LeftHand says:

    I like reading about all the ways to re-use air mattressess/inflatables. I don’t want to throw my double air mattress in the landfill and there’s got to be somewhere in my area that can take it for me. I live in southern California 92056/92054 area code. Anyone have any suggestions ?

  23. Crystal M. Kearns says:

    Hi. I have a queen air mattress, good quality, built in pumped and a second layer to imitate a pillow top. When it started to deflate on it’s own we searched for a hole. We found one and patched it and then it inflated out of it’s original shape into a sphere like shape. We figured the hole must run internally and into the inner layer. Is it even possible to repair this? My email is . Otherwise I will repurpose it. There are many good ideas on here. Some with more sewing then of like lol. I thought maybe cutting a large shape out of the fuzzy top and using under my yoga mat for extra floor coverage.

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