An arm cleans a rubber mat to stop it smelling. The blog header reads Removing Smell from Rubber Mats.
By Matly
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Removing smell from rubber mats

Our top 5 tried-and-tested methods for removing the rubber smell from your new matting.

If you’ve recently bought rubber matting, you probably noticed the smell when you unpacked it. It’s hard to miss, and it can be concerning when you notice yourself inhaling a new smell.

Luckily, the rubber smell isn’t something you just have to put up with. Here are a few of our tried and tested methods for removing smell from rubber mats. But first, what is it that gives rubber that smell?


What’s the smell?

You might be surprised to hear that the smell rubber matting gives off is not actually the rubber itself. It’s caused by a group of off-gasses made of volatile organic compounds, otherwise known as VOCs.

VOCs are chemicals that become vapour easily. Even at room temperature, they give off strong fumes, which is why they smell so strong. When we smell something, we are smelling the item’s particles as they enter our nose.

Items made from VOCs, therefore, get their smelly particles into our noses more easily.

Rubber is a very porous material, so the VOCs released during production tend to hold onto it well. Research has identified numerous VOCs that are released when rubber is made, and smaller quantities of these are likely present in the finished product.


Is the smell of rubber smell toxic?

We know that burning rubber is toxic, but what about the smell of new rubber?

For those working to create rubber products, the extended periods of inhalation over time can cause significant health problems. Long-term effects are still being studied, but the carcinogenic properties of occupational exposure have been confirmed, with studies noting:

“Occupational exposures in the rubber-manufacturing industry cause leukaemia, lymphoma, and cancers of the urinary bladder, lung, and stomach.

Also, a positive association has been observed between occupational exposures in the rubber-manufacturing industry and cancers of the prostate, oesophagus, and larynx.”

But we guess that you aren’t working in a rubber factory. So, is rubber off-gas toxic to those of us that come across it occasionally?

Probably not. The consensus from rubber manufacturers and governing bodies is that short-lived exposure to rubber off-gas is not dangerous. Either way, we still recommend limiting your exposure to any chemical as much as possible – just to be safe.


How to stop rubber mats smelling

Even if an occasional sniff of rubber is safe, it isn’t particularly pleasant. So, our team has compiled our favourite methods for removing the smell without damaging the mat. Each of these has been tried and tested by our matxperts, so choose whichever method you prefer!


Method 1: Natural detergent (+a DIY recipe)

To avoid further damage to your health and the environment, we always recommend a natural detergent. A great option is this lemon myrtle disinfectant, but you could also make your own.

Mix a cup of water with 10 drops each of lavender, orange, eucalyptus, and tea tree essential oils to create a cruelty- and toxin-free natural cleaning solution.

Step 1: Mix equal parts warm water and a natural detergent.

Step 2: Lay your rubber mat on a flat surface.

Step 3: Cover the mat liberally in your solution.

Step 4: Leave to soak for 1-4 hours.

Step 5: Wipe the surface of the mat and leave to dry.


Method 2: Vinegar

The vinegar method is a popular one because it’s quick and easy. Also, most people have white vinegar at home, so you don’t need to buy any expensive cleaning materials.

Step 1: Mix equal parts warm water and white vinegar.

Step 2: Lay your rubber mat on a flat surface.

Step 3: Cover the mat with your solution.

Step 4: Leave to soak for 1-4 hours.

Step 5: Clean the surface of the mat with warm water and a natural detergent.

Step 6: Rinse and leave to dry.


Method 3: Sunlight

If you live somewhere sunny and have some outside space, this might be your best option.

Do you remember earlier we mentioned that VOCs release their smells easily at low temperatures? Well, the heat from sunlight can speed this up by naturally heating your rubber mat and releasing the VOCs into the air.

Step 1: Lay your rubber mat on the ground in a sunlit and well-ventilated outside area.

Step 2: Leave for 1-4 hours (the longer the better!)

Step 3: Clean the mat thoroughly with warm water and a natural detergent.

Step 4: Allow to dry fully.


Method 4: Air freshener

We don’t recommend this method at all. Spraying more chemicals to remove chemicals just seems counter-productive to us. But, if it’s all you have and you need a quick solution, this is an option.

Step 1: Place your rubber mat on the ground in a well-ventilated outside area.

Step 2: Clean the surface with a natural detergent and water.

Step 3: Allow to dry.

Step 4: Spray liberally with an air freshener.

Step 5: Leave to dry again.


Method 5: Patience

If you need, you can simply install your rubber mat immediately. Over time, the smelly off-gas will diminish, taking the smell with it. Try to avoid spending a lot of time in the area for a couple of weeks – especially if it is not well-ventilated.

Step 1: Install your rubber mat.

Step 2: Enjoy!


Get rid of rubber mat smell for good

It is important to remember that not all VOCs are harmful. Also, the level of VOCs in the mats you buy from us here at Matshop is much lower than the levels required to be considered toxic.

Still, it’s an inconvenience to unwrap your new mat with eager anticipation, only to find it stinks! So, if you do want to remove the smell, all the methods we have outlined here are effective and safe for stopping your rubber mats smelling.

We’d love to hear your favourite ways to remove the smell from your rubber matting! If you have any to add to our list, let us know in the comments below.

As always, our friendly matxperts are happy to help with any mat-related questions you have. Reach out to us using the chat function below or call 1300 628 746. For more information on rubber mats, browse the collection online or request a custom quote.

2 years ago