How to Get Rid of Rubber Smell on Weights?

Written by — Tonya

If you have a home gym or even a small collection of weights you strength-train with, you may have experienced the persistent smell of rubber. Luckily, there are some ways you can get rid of this smell.

The rubber smell on weights is typically due to the fact that they are made of rubber – sometimes recycled rubber – which has a toxic smell to it at first.

To get rid of the smell, you can wash them, clean them with rubbing alcohol or apply baking soda, among other treatments. 

Keep reading to learn more.

What causes rubber weight smell?

Typically, when rubber weight plates or rubber dumbbells smell strongly of rubber, it’s usually because their oil is burning when oxygen comes into contact with it.

The smell gets emitted via gasses, as well as oil that ends up remaining on the surface of the rubber. The good news is that this odor won’t last forever.

It generally persists after unboxing your new weights since they’re fresh from production. They need time for the oils to burn up and escape for the smell to go away.

Another common reason why rubber weights have a persistent rubber smell is that they might be made of recycled materials.

Recycled rubber has a distinctively strong rubbery smell – more so than newly created rubber. It has the same VOCs in it and may take some more time to deodorize.

But if you can’t wait that long and the smell bothers you too much, there are some effective DIY methods of getting rid of the smell.

Is rubber weight smell toxic?

Additionally, many people wish to know if this rubbery smell can harm them and what can be done to remedy it.

The rubber oils burn when they touch oxygen, and at that point, they get released as gasses (what you smell).

These gasses that get emitted from manufactured rubber on weights and dumbbells are known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

According to the EPA, VOCs can be harmful to humans since they expose you to high pollutant levels of elevated concentrations, even long after weight use.

How to get rid of rubber smell on weights

Fortunately, there are some straightforward ways to eliminate the rubbery smell on your dumbbells and weight plates at home.

Aside from thoroughly washing them, which we’ll explain how to do below, you should also consider using an odor neutralizer like baking soda on them.

1. Wash Them

The first step you should take is to wash your weights. Doing so will help to at least remove some of the oils on the surface of the rubber that is the primary source of the odor you’re smelling.

All you really need is some warm water, a soft sponge, and some soap that is either unscented or scented to your preference.

Dish soap like Dawn makes a great option since it’s accessible, affordable, and great at breaking down fats such as oil.

Once you’ve gently soaped down your weights, thoroughly rinse every inch of their surface.

At this point, you want to ensure that you let them thoroughly dry before using them or storing them again so they don’t form rust.

2. Let the weights air out

The next method of getting rid of the smell is something that you can actually do while you’re waiting for the weights to dry.

Please leave them in a cool, dry location where they can air-dry. In the process, some of those VOCs we mentioned earlier will have the chance to get let off as gas. The more this occurs, the closer you get to the smell disappearing entirely.

You might even consider airing out the weights outside, as long as it’s not raining. The wind blowing on them may be an effective catalyst to eliminate the smell.

And if you haven’t washed your weights before airing them out, note that it may take several weeks for them to lose their smell naturally.

3. Using Rubbing Alcohol 

Did you know that rubbing alcohol is sometimes an effective odor neutralizer?

If your weights smell strongly of rubber, try using household alcohol to break down the oils further to get them off the surface.

Any way that you can get rid of the oils is a way that you can get rid of the smell.

4. Absorb the Odors

Since the odors are in the oils, you may need to try a method of absorbing those oils with an absorbent solid.

Just like you can use kitty litter on a driveway oil spill, you can use it for the same purpose when it comes to the oils in the rubber weights.

Furthermore, you might use a substance like powderized charcoal to absorb the oils.

Afterwards, you’ll want to give your weights another cleaning so that the smell of those absorbents doesn’t stick. But this method is fairly effective at reducing the odor.

5. Baking soda

Baking soda works pretty similarly to kitty litter in eliminating the odor-producing oils on weights.

Most people already have some baking soda in their fridge or by their sink to eliminate smells in those locations.

Baking soda is also very affordable and is found at most grocery stores and supermarkets.

Simply use it to absorb the oils on the weights before you re-wash and dry them.

6. Vinegar

If the above methods haven’t worked for you or only worked to a certain extent, you might consider a vinegar solution bath.

You can fill a bucket of water or your sink with a diluted mix of vinegar and water.

After soaking your weights in that solution for about an hour, remove them and wash, then dry them.

7. Peppermint oil 

Last but not least, peppermint oil is strong enough that it might cover up the smell of your rubber weights.

Peppermint oil is usually concentrated enough that a few drops on a clean rag, rubbed on the surface of your weights, may be enough to neutralize the strong smell of VOCs they emit.

How long does it take for rubber smell to go away?

In most cases, it should take roughly 2-3 weeks for the rubber smell to disappear from brand new rubber weights naturally.

It may take slightly longer if the weights are made from recycled materials.

How do you clean dirty rubber weights?

Aside from cleaning your weights to eliminate their odor, you still need to regularly wipe them down to remove bacteria. Use a clean cloth or rag with some dish soap and warm water.

Make sure that you get every nook and cranny of the surface before rinsing it clean and letting it fully dry.

How do you restore rubber weight plates?

If your rubber weight plates have begun to rust over time, you may be able to use a vinegar solution to clean off the oxidation.

But, generally, the proper restoration method for rubber weight plates is a soap and water wash, followed by a thorough air drying.

Summing it Up

Make sure to follow our tips regarding how to get rid of rubber smells on weights.

This odor is usually due to the VOCs trapped in the rubber’s oils, which you can get rid of with odor neutralizers, soap washes, and vinegar baths.

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