You picked up some Horse Stall Mats for your garage gym. Maybe you’re like me and you got some at a great price from Tractor Supply Company. Maybe you even took my recommendation for getting Horse Stall Mats for your garage gym.
Now, you’ve got them home and… they smell awful. Like, really awful.
Now what? Don’t worry, I’ve been there too and I’m going to walk you through why horse stall mats smell in the first place and, most importantly, what you can do to get that smell to go away.
Rather watch than read? Check out my video on How to Get the Smell Out of Horse Stall Mats
Why Do Horse Stall Mats Smell Like That?
Let me start off by saying I am not a chemist. I took a whole bunch of chemistry classes while going for my Master’s in Dietetics and Nutrition, but I am definitely not an expert in the chemical processes of recycled rubber.
What I can tell you is that rubber comes in two forms. First is what is called virgin rubber, or new rubber. This is generally higher quality rubber that is being manufactured for the first time for a specific purpose. For instance, my Uesaka plates are virgin rubber.
Second is recycled rubber. This is exactly what it sounds like. Rubber that has been crushed up and ‘recycled’ for another purpose. In this case, it’s in the form of rubber mats. Typically recycled rubber comes from recycled tires.
They crush tires up into really small pieces and then ‘glue’ them together with chemicals like urethane. This is where the smell comes in.
The smell itself comes from the mats releasing VOCs, volatile organic compounds. Over time as the mats are exposed to air the release slows, which in turn dissipates the smell. Now, I’m not going to into how good or bad this is for you because I don’t feel qualified to do so.
For what it’s worth, I have horse stall mats in my garage as my garage gym floor.
Finally, before you say to yourself, ‘Well, those VOCs sound scary, I’m going to get new rubber for my floor.’ Sorry, to my knowledge virgin rubber for flooring doesn’t exist. Even PLAE who, in my opinion, makes the best flooring on the market uses recycled rubber.
Now, are there different levels of quality when it comes to recycled rubber? Sure. But, all rubber gym flooring is going to be recycled rubber.
Okay. Enough about ‘WHY’ it smells. Tell me ‘HOW’ to get rid of it. Got it. Here we go:
Solution Number 1 – Have Patience
Have patience? What kind of help is that? True and honest help. If you’ve arrived at this page and the mats in your garage have only been in there for a day or two, try to relax and have some patience.
Look, I get it. When I got my mats into my garage the smell was so strong the first few days that it was seeping into my kitchen. I know this because my wife reminded me of it every day for almost a week.
While I was a little concerned, I also knew from having put rubber flooring into gyms and weight rooms (everything from horse stall mats to high end commercial flooring) that it was going to smell and that smell was not going to last.
Now, let me be clear, rubber flooring will always have a particular smell to it and some of that will never go away. However, that unbearable smell that you’re currently experiencing will.
If you’re still in the first few days of having put in your mats, stick with Solution Number 1 and try to incorporate Solution Number 2 as much as possible. What’s Solution Number 2? Glad you asked.
Solution Number 2 – Open Your Garage Doors
Airflow right now is your best friend. Like I said earlier, I’m not going to try to go into all of the chemistry that’s happening with your mats, but can tell you this – airing out those mats as much as possible early on is your best method of defeating that smell.
I kept my garage doors open basically from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed the first few days.
Keeping the doors open doesn’t allow the smell to build up in the room. Remember, Horse Stall Mats are designed to be used for horses, outside, in large well ventilated barns. When you put these same mats into a much smaller space, the smell can completely saturate that room pretty quickly.
If you’re putting your mats into a room that is not your garage – your basement, for example. I would recommend that you space them out (don’t stack them) and let them air out outside for a few days, maybe a week, before you put them in.
Once you put them in, open any windows or doors you can to create airflow. Use fans to help with this process if needed.
Solution Number 3 – Let the Sunshine In
Sunshine, along with the heat from sunshine, causes the pores of the rubber to open and helps expedite the release of VOCs. The quicker you can get the rubber to release VOCs the quicker the smell goes away.
If you’re lucky, at some point in the day the sun hits the inside of your garage and you don’t even have to lift a finger.
Follow Solution Number 2, open the garage doors and Solution Number 3 happens organically. Then refer back to Solution Number 1.
If you’re like me though and the sun never actually hits the inside of your garage you may have to take mat(ters) into your own hands. Drag those mats out into your driveway and let them bask in the afternoon sun.
If the weather cooperates and you plan it just right, you may be able to get sunshine and some rain as well. The rain will help rinse those mats off and the sun can dry them off and work on taking out the smell. Speaking of rinsing…
Solution Number 4 – Wipe Em Down
You should clean your mats on a regular basis regardless, you know, proper hygiene and all. But, when you first get your mats you can kick this up a notch. Give them a good wipe down every day or every other day for the first few days.
Personally, I wiped mine down when I first got them home with a solution of just bleach and water, but didn’t do it again until the end of the first week.
I always wipe my mats down at the end of each week. A lifetime spent in weight rooms has driven the importance of weight room cleanliness so far into my brain that I don’t know any other way.
Solution Number 5 – Work Out
I’m gonna be honest here. I don’t know if this actually does anything or not, but for some reason it feels like it does.
It’s probably more just the passing of time (See Solution Number 1), but there is something about using the floor – walking on it, dropping weights, sweat, etc – that seems to ease the smell of the mats.
I’ve alluded some to my personal experience with Horse Stall Mats, but I wanted to share with you my full experience. I picked Horse Stall Mats because I worked and trained in a gym with Horse Stall Mats.
While they weren’t as aesthetically pleasing as the higher end floors in college weight rooms I’ve worked in, they did the job just fine.
I bought my mats online from Tractor Supply Company and picked them up that same day. Me and Jake loaded them up in the back of my wife’s small SUV and then I jumped in to drive them home.
The smell was overwhelming to say the least. I cranked the windows down and prayed that the smell would not stay in the car when I pulled them out otherwise my wife was probably going to kill me.
I got them home, pulled them out and after giving my garage floor a thorough sweeping, I laid them out (8 mats total) in place. Using a solution of bleach and water and a towel I wiped down the tops of each mat.
I kept the garage doors open throughout the evening and closed them before going to bed.
The next morning the smell was detectable in the kitchen, about five feet from the interior door of the garage. I opened up the doors again and left them open all day.
I repeated this for the next five days.
The only thing different I did was on Day 3 I took a couple of the mats (not all of them) outside to sit in the sun for a few hours. They also got a quick 15 minute afternoon shower.
By the fifth day the smell was noticeably less even first thing in the morning. On the sixth day, it was so much better that I didn’t bother with leaving the doors open. I open the doors while I’m working out, but close them after.
After 10 days the smell is barely noticeable anymore and a non-issue. It’s the faint smell of rubber that accompanies any gym floor in any gym.
I’ve read ‘horror stories’ of people saying they got mats and it took months for the smell to go away or it never went away at all. I’m not here discounting those people and their experience, but that’s never been my experience and I’ve done it multiple times.
The best advice I can give you is don’t freak out, don’t overreact and be patient. Air out your room as much as possible early on and give it some time. Finally, get your lifts in. Don’t know if that will help the floor, but it will definitely help those GAINS!
Thanks for reading. Stay Strong!