How Do I Stop My Horse Stall Mat from Smelling?

Written by — Tonya

Horse stall mats are rugged and durable, so they are perfect for a barn or livestock trailer, but recently, home gym owners have turned to stall mats for their gym flooring because they are a fraction of the cost of rubber flooring in a specialized gym.

But a major issue with horse stall mats for interior use is that they have an overpowering rubber odor that you may be exposed to for a few hours while you are using your gym. But never fear; there are ways to stop horse stall mats from smelling so bad.

We suggest following a simple 3-step process to get the majority of the odor out of your new horse stall mats, regardless of where you plan to use them. 

First, air the mats out in a wide-open outdoor area or a very well-ventilated indoor space. Next, clean the top and bottom of the mat. Once most of the stink has been removed, be prepared to wait for the rest of the odor to disperse. 

Many rubber mats are made from recycled rubber/tires, which is a great way to use them since too many tires end up in landfills. But inside your barn, trailer, or home gym, their smell can be overwhelming, discouraging you from using your new space.

Virgin rubber has the advantage of being low-odor, but it still carries a strong smell that you definitely can’t ignore.

Below, we will explain how to minimize the strong odor of your new mats so you can start using them immediately.

Air out horse stall mats to stop them from smelling

Before installing your new mats, airing them out is the best way to remove the bulk of their odor.

The odor that comes from rubber mats is due to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) being released. New furniture, carpet and paint are also household materials that give off VOCs.

Constant exposure to VOCs can cause irritation of the eyes, nose and throat. It can also cause nausea and headaches and, in some cases, has even been linked to cancer. So you will want to avoid being in close quarters with VOCs when possible.

Can you leave horse stall mats outside?

A great way to reduce the odor of your new mats and limit your exposure to VOCs is to leave them outside or in a well-ventilated indoor area before installing them, such as:

  • the backyard
  • a porch or deck
  • the garage
  • an open shed or carport

Putting the mats outside is best since the sun’s heat opens up the rubber’s pores, releasing VOCs more efficiently.

Please don’t leave them stacked together, though, because the air can’t reach the top and bottom of each mat. Instead, spread them out, so each one has a chance to breathe.

Helpful Tip:

Immediately installing your new mats inside your home or other enclosed areas will result in the odor lasting much longer than it has to.

These harmful VOCs don’t have anywhere to go, so you end up breathing them in until they have had a chance to dissipate, which can take a very long time in a poorly ventilated area.

The odor can also seep into other areas, making your whole house or barn smell awful.

Clean stall mats well the first time, but also frequently going forward

Once your mats have been aired out for a few days, you’re safe to install them. A good cleaning beforehand will further deodorize the mats.

There’s a lot of debate about how to clean rubber horse stall mats, but as long as you are consistent, any of the following should be effective odor-removing agents:

  • A bleach and water solution – A 1:1 mixture is good for the first cleaning.
  • Something with a neutral pH – Simple Green is an example. Several mat cleaning products are available online, or you can choose a mild dish soap and water.
  • Vinegar – White vinegar and water also work well for initial cleanings.
  • Liquid dish soap – You can’t beat a high-quality dish soap and water for weekly cleaning, especially if the mats are used indoors.

Before installation, clean both sides of the mats and allow them to air dry completely, in the sun preferably. It’s best if you can do this outside the first time.

As long as the mats are cleaned on a weekly basis, their odor will continue to be reduced over time. To cut through the odour, even more, you can wipe them down with essential oils like peppermint and citrus.

Oils are a natural way to reduce the odors of your floors after they are clean. They are not meant to be a substitute for cleaners.

Give it time for the rubber smell to go away

Not the advice you probably want to hear, but you will notice that their smell is much more tolerable over time.

Some home gym owners claim that daily use is the best way to get rid of stall mat odors, and those who use mats for their intended purpose (livestock) don’t even notice the rubber mat smell due to — other smells.

In any event, time is the most effective way to stop horse stall mats from smelling.

Unfortunately, your horse stall mats may always have a slight odor. It’s just the material’s nature, whether it is made of recycled or virgin rubber.

Here are a few tips for continued use:

  • Run a fan in the area to move the smell out faster
  • Maintain good ventilation at all times, even when you aren’t using the area
  • Don’t close off the room. Open doors and windows as much as possible to keep the deodorizing process going.

The Takeaway

After airing out your mats and giving them a good cleaning, the odor will not be completely gone, but they won’t overpower you or give you a headache if you’re ready to install them.

Following this process, it should take days, not weeks or months, to stop horse stall mats from smelling so strong. Honestly, you may always be able to detect the rubber scent, but it should not be overwhelming and shouldn’t leak into other areas of your home.

After those first few days, you will gradually notice the smell of your horse stall mats less and less.