Packing Away Summer Inflatables
With summer truly behind us, unless a winter sun holiday treat is on the horizon, it’s time to pack away all that summer equipment including inflatables.
Inflatable pools. Pool floats. Inflatable patriotic memorabilia. Inflatable tents. Blow up sunbeds. Inflatable paddle boards. Inflatable boats, kayaks, dinghies.
The general principles for storing are the same no matter what you’re deflating:
1. Repair first
It is easier to find leaks in something that’s still inflated.
Repair (with waterproof repair kits) before deflating.
2. Remove the air
Ironically inflatables seem to lose air when we want them to keep it (largely due to temperature changes) and never want to see to give it up when we want to deflate deliberately.
Despite the irony, the air in inflatables may well harbour damp and inflatables packed with air will both take more space and make ‘popping’ more likely.
Some items, like paddle boards, don’t always need deflating, just topping up, over the summer months, but proper storage is generally recommended for anything that’s not going to be used for over a month.
Remaining constantly inflated puts plastic under constant pressure and stress, decreases overall life span and leaves it prone to wear and tear. Deflating reduces the chances of damage by changes in temperature as there is no (or very little) air inside to expand and contract.
There are all kinds of air removal hacks (tips) on YouTube – one that resonated with us at easyStorage was cutting a ‘Q tip’ (ear cleaning bud) in half and pushing that gently into the valve to hold it open and let air out more quickly.
If you have an air pump, you can reverse the pump hose. For larger items, slowly rolling them can help expel the air more efficiently, but be careful not to apply too much pressure (which may break the valve or pop the item) and don’t feel pressure to roll the item too tightly.
But whichever method you choose, remember that jumping on the inflatable to push the air out faster may well damage it.
3. Clean thoroughly
Clean the item with appropriate cleaner. More expensive items are likely to have manufacturers instructions.
Generally start with rinsing, especially if the item has been in sea salt or chlorinated swimming pool water, which may corrade the plastic/material if left on.
Use clean, running water to get rid of any loose gravel, bits of dirt or mud, or other debris. If anything is ground into the (including the seams) use a soft cloth, appropriate cleaner or a soft-bristled brush to loosen or scrub – then rinse thoroughly.
Some biodegradable soaps are fine on plastics, but there are also specialist cleaners available online for things like inflatable dinghies.
4. Dry out thoroughly
Ensure that whatever you store is dry. If not, mould may ensue.
Apparent wetness, such as water from cleaning, can be dried off with towels or soft cloths, but make sure that the item is THOROUGHLY dry before storing. Some inflatable boats, for example, have canvas which is harder to dry off.
Hanging the item in a warm, dry place before packing is often advisable. (A word to the wise: put a towel or similar on the floor underneath to catch drips.)
Now that your inflatable is deflated, clean and dry, store safely in a cool, dry, dark place to avoid mould and any damage to the plastic.
If you have the original packaging, this may be a good place to pack things for storage, with a proviso that manufacturers often have equipment that allows the saving of packing space, so if it won’t fit back in, it’s not you!
Large items like boats are usually sturdy, pool inflatables less so. To prevent plastic adhering to itself, try using packing paper or tissue paper, and store items as flat as possible to avoid plastic weakening folds and stretches.