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No matter how expensive your rubber floor mats or yoga mats are, they will still have that peculiar rubbery smell. And sometimes, the smell is so overwhelming that it could give you a headache. Some people feel dizzy and some feel shortness of breath when they are exposed to the rubbery smell. Such cases are rare though.
In our earlier article on ‘Are Horse Stall Mats Toxic’, we explained why rubber smells so awful. We also provided you with detailed information that proved that the horse stall mats are safe for use in home gyms. We highly recommend you read that article, so you will have no doubts about your choice.
Here, we will provide you with some basic tips on how to get rid of that foul smell so you don’t get distracted by it while exercising.
You can never really get rid of rubber odor but you can minimize it
Pick up any rubber item in your home or garage and smell it. Even though it has been in your home for years, it will still have that typical smell. But, obviously, the smell will barely be noticeable.
Don’t you want to do the same with your new horse stall mats?
With time, the smell will eventually go away or become barely noticeable. But, that could take weeks or months!
Don’t worry; in this article, we will tell you how you can accelerate the process. And, you will be surprised to know that it's pretty easy and pretty obvious too!
Horse stall mats stink more than other rubber products
That's because they are made of recycled rubber obtained from the crumbs of old tires. The crumbs are then mixed with a binding agent and various other chemicals to create rubber sheets. These chemicals give rubber its typical smell.
Rubber is a porous material. During manufacturing, processing, and recycling, the chemicals sweep into its pores and get stuck there for years. If you want to get rid of the smell, you need to get rid of these chemicals that contain VOCs i.e. volatile organic compounds.
As we mentioned in our previous article, VOCs are all around us. From disinfectant to deodorant, a lot of things that we use daily emit VOCs. There is no concrete evidence that proves that those VOCs are harmful to health.
The US Environmental Protection Agency states that you can get rid of the VOCs and, in turn, the rubbery smell by ensuring proper ventilation in your home and airing out the objects made of rubber. So, to get rid of the smell from your horse stall mat, you need to air them out.
Leave your horse stall mats under the sun for two-three weeks
This is how we had left our Tractor Supply Co. horse stall mats on our driveway. We let them sit in the sun for a week. We sprayed them every day with a water hose and kept flipping them during our work breaks. After 7 days, the smell was noticeably less, so we started using them.
It typically takes two-four weeks but Tractor Supply Co stores its horse stall mats stacked in the sun, which helps off gass them. This is why ours were ready after 7 days. You might have to air them out for a bit longer.
Why leave them in the sun?
Various studies have concluded that VOCs can easily evaporate under room temperature but leaving them under the sun can accelerate the process. Heat from sunshine will cause the pores of rubber to expand and let off the trapped chemicals, which are the main sources of VOCs.
Here are a few things that you need to keep in mind while putting your mats under the sun:
Do not leave them on the grass
As obvious, horse stalls mats are quite heavy. If you leave them on the grass even for just a few hours, they could kill it. Put them on concrete instead. As you can see above, we have spread them on our driveway but you can use your roof or yard. Choose a spot where they will receive maximum sunlight for hours.
If you have time, keep flipping them regularly so both sides get equal exposure and ventilation. You can even prop them up against a fence or railing, etc. so the other side of the mat gets enough ventilation. This will also help speed up the outgassing process.
Wait for at least a week before using them
It typically takes a couple of weeks to get rid of the rubbery smell from horse stall mats or any other product that is made of recycled rubber. But, sunning them can help you cut down this time duration to just one or two weeks.
Do a smell check after a week of putting them in the sun. You should install them only when the smell becomes negligible, which means, you might have to wait for a week or two depending on your current weather conditions.
Horse stall mats may fade their color
Anything would fade under the sunlight, especially if you expose them for hours and weeks. Don’t worry, gym equipment and accessories are meant to be rough. The barbels will get scratched and the treadmill will squeak. You can’t do anything about it. So, be prepared that you will end up having faded or bleached mats.
Do not stack them
Stacking them will reduce ventilation. You should spread them on the floor to ensure that the VOCs get maximum chance to escape.
Ensure proper ventilation in your home gym
As we mentioned in our article on ‘Are Horse Stall Mats Toxic?’, we do not recommend horse stall mats for poorly ventilated places unless they have been properly outgassed for weeks. Even a small quantity of chemicals trapped in the holes of rubber can make an entire room stink with the VOCs. Even though it won’t cause any health hazard, the rubbery smell could cause headache or worse dizziness. It could distract you or make it difficult for you to complete your reps.
Horse stall mats are best suited for well-ventilated home gyms. You can use a Commercial Electric 16 Inch Turbo Floor Fan or something similar to ensure that your home gym stays cool and well-ventilated.
Wipe them regularly
There is no scientific evidence that claims that wiping can help you get rid of the smell from rubber products. But, a lot of buyers have tried it and it helps! You don’t need to wipe it daily. You can wipe it with a bleach and water solution or vinegar and water solution whenever you get time. Then, you can leave them under the sun.
To be honest, we haven’t tried it yet. We are just relying on the sunlight and, so far, it is working.
Does airing out really help get the smell out of horse stall mats?
Yes, it does. We have practically tested it out by checking the quality of our home gym using the EG Air Quality Pollution Monitor after sunning and installing them.
Here is what we did:
To start with, we first conducted a generic air quality test of our home. We kept the monitor on the kitchen counter and waited for 3 minutes before checking the results. Check the below image.
Next, we placed the monitor on the horse stall mats that were still sunning. The amount of TVOCs was much less than what was detected in our home. We had expected this because obviously the air quality outside is much better. Readings below:
After a week of adequate sunning, our horse stall mats were barely stinking, so thought of installing them in the second floor where we are building our new home gym. But, we thought of testing that room for TVOCS before and after installing the mats.
Here are the readings of the room before installing the mats:
Here are the readings after installing the mats:
As you can see, there is not much difference in the VOCs level, which makes us conclude that sunning and airing did work.
Getting the smell out of horse stall mats could take 2-6 weeks and there is nothing that you can do to reduce this time any further. Until then, relax and enjoy your time on your yoga mat.
If you don’t want to wait for so long, you can use gym flooring tiles instead. We recommend BalanceFrom Puzzle Exercise Mat because it is affordable and serves best for floor exercises. You can use them for keeping your treadmill, spin bikes, or rowing machine. But, they won’t hold up if you use free weights on them. In fact, not many exercise mats are meant for weight training, which is why horse stall mats are so popular and worth the wait.