Before I discovered puncture less tires, I had often to patch my inner tubes.

I initially bought dedicated patches (which invariantly were too big or too stiff), then decided to try cutting old tubes to shape, and using them as patches after washing away the white powder they had on the inside and giving both the tube and the patch a light scratching with sandpaper.

I find reused tube to be more easily workable, while being thinner and more similar to the tube they are going to patch.

Is any of the two to be preferred?

  • 1
    Which patches did you have? I have never seen a bike tube patch that would be thicker than tube.
    – ojs
    Jul 19 '18 at 7:36
  • @ojs, I bought them at a supermarket (so might very well be low end), but they had one side with sort of fins, like they wanted on purpose to increase their rigidity
    – L.Dutch
    Jul 19 '18 at 7:38
  • 1
    I can't say that I have ever succeeded in using pieces of inner tube as patches. Real patches have a foil sealed un-vulcanised layer which can bond, Other things don't seem to.
    – Henry Crun
    Jul 19 '18 at 7:39
  • @L.Dutch sounds like you bought a bad product. Try Rema Tip Top next time. (disclaimer: there may be other good brands too, I don't want to try out potential garbage when I know one brand that works).
    – ojs
    Jul 19 '18 at 7:43
  • 1
    They don't sound like bicycle patches at all. Perhaps plastic patches for inflatable plastic things like airbeds/boats. Or perhaps some kind of tyre patch. Even the cheapest repair kits from the dollar shop work perfectly, and I still have a few odd size patches that are >30 years old, and they also work perfectly (which is pretty surprising)
    – Henry Crun
    Jul 19 '18 at 7:44

Recycling tubes as patches works, but its a lot more work and can be error prone.

You cut an oversized piece of tube and dust off all the talc. Then stick a loop of tape on the back side as a handhold for later. Then sand/abrade it really well, in three directions.

Once that's done you spread some proper vulcanising fluid on the sanded area so its got thin but complete coverage in the middle. Then leave it untouched for 5 minutes while you do the punctured tube prep, the same way.

While the tube is drying, use sharp scissors to trim your patch to the ight size. Use the tape handhold and do NOT touch the sticky side. You can try cutting curves but I find a 45 degree corner snip then to much thinner snips off those corners works well enough.

Then if you can, inflate the tube to about where it would be inside the tyre, so abut 50mm for a MTB 2" tyre. Stick the patch on centered over the hole. There should be no part between them that doesn't have dried vulcanising fluid.

Lastly, use a roller, or a dollar coin or something round like the end of a spoon to press the patch firmly into the tube.

Peel off the tape handle, inflate to "firm" which is 5-10 PSI when bare, and leave for a couple hours to test. If it holds pressure that long its fine.

Then roll and stow it, or refit to the wheel.

Upside - Recycling! Save the planet!


  • No chamfered edge to the patch, so any movement can wear a fresh hole. Hence why it has to be stuck down all over.

  • Prep time is doubled.

  • Old donor tubes make for worse patches if they're already a bit ratty.

I once fixed a 20mm gash this way, cos I was broke. That tube punctured again elsewhere but my bodge held for years. I think its still in a spare 26" wheel hanging on the wall...

  • 2
    A key point in this answer missing from mine is the need to pre-stretch the tube to be patched. This makes roadside patching much harder with recycled patches, but as I generally patch at home that's not an issue for me
    – Chris H
    Jul 19 '18 at 11:25

I have managed to patch tubes using old tubes (as an experiment) but wouldn't recommend it. First I cut and sanded a larger than normal patch, then applied patch glue to both the patch and the tube and let it dry before applying the patch. With thick-edged patches I tend to run a bit more glue round the outside, and this was no exception, then I used talc after that had dried, to stop it sticking to the tyre. It held for light inflation as a test so I installed it in the tyre.

I suspect I was actually abusing the vulcanising patch glue as a contact adhesive/sealant, and once the tube was back in the tyre the patch couldn't escape. But I wouldn't trust the raised edges long-term. Real patches are tapered to nothing at the edges so they can't catch on things.

The patches with the orange edge and no self-adhesive layer (e.g. first picture here), even if cheap, work well. And small tubes of vulcanising glue are available online on their own.

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