Do Horse Stall Mats Smell? (Get Rid Of It In Home Gyms!)

Getting the best flooring for your gym is important, and many home gym owners turn to horse stall mats. They offer durable protection, and they're inexpensive, but they can have a very noticeable smell.

This can make your home gym unbearable and discourage you from working out. Well, don't worry, because in this guide we'll explain why horse stall mats smell and how to get rid of it.

Horse stall mats are primarily designed to be used in horse stalls. They’re tough enough to stand up to the pressure and impact of a jumping horse but also comfortable enough for animals to curl up and sleep on them.

These qualities make it well suited for gym flooring, too, because it will protect your flooring and give you a safe and comfortable surface for working out.  

Homeowners often prefer horse stall mats to other gym floorings because it's relatively inexpensive. The only downside is that they have a strong odor, especially when new. This isn't an issue in a horse stall, but it is less than ideal for humans, and even in a well-ventilated gym, it can be too much.  

The smell comes from the material. Horse stall mats are made from recycled crumb rubber, which is normally made from used tires. These don't smell good to start with, but the recycling process means that it's crushed up and held together with chemicals, particularly sulfur and urethane.

This combination of the used rubber and chemicals causes the horse stall mats to release volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These VOCs don’t just smell awful, but they can impact your health, and many gym owners experience headaches if they're using them in a poorly ventilated space.  

Manufacturers do treat the recycled rubber mats to remove some of the smell, but it isn't always effective, and new horse stall mats will smell the worst.

Over time the smell will decrease if you’re cleaning the mats properly, but the nature of the rubber means that the odor is stored within it for a long time.

That's why it's imperative to remove the smell as much as possible from your mats when you first buy them before you install them in your home gym.  

Related Article - Ultimate Guide To Home & Garage Gym Flooring

Do Horse Stall Mats Smell? (Get Rid Of It In Home Gyms!)

How To Get Rid Of Horse Stall Mat Rubber Smell?

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to fully get rid of the horse stall mat smell, and it tends to only happen over time. This is because of the chemical makeup of the mats and the fact that VOCs are released from them.

However, there are some steps you can take to help remove the bad smell more quickly:

1. Leave The Horse Stall Mats In The Sun 

The VOCs form in the rubber, and when they're released, it causes bad smells. When the horse stall mats are exposed to higher temperatures, it causes the pores to open, which helps to release all of the VOCs more quickly.

By leaving your mats out in the sun, you can accelerate the process and remove the bad smells. You should try to leave your mats in the sun for as long as possible, a few days if you can. Elevate the mat off the floor, or prop it against something so that air can circulate around it. 

This will help remove the bad odors more quickly and reduce the smell when you move it into your gym.

2. Use An Odor Neutraliser  

Using a neutral pH cleaner will help you eliminate the odor and leave your mats feeling clean. Neutral pH cleaners are effective but gentle, so they won't damage your horse stall mats.

It’s important that you don’t use any harsh chemical cleaners in the maintenance of your rubber flooring.

Move your horse stall mats outside and mix your cleaner with warm water. Use a mop to thoroughly clean both sides of your mat, and then leave in a well-ventilated area to dry. This will help to remove any dirt which has gathered and neutralize the bad smell. 

3. Check The Materials 

Part of the reason horse stall mats can smell so bad is because of the recycled rubber, but there are stall mats available made from new rubber. This new, or virgin, rubber has only been used to make the mats, so it doesn’t smell anywhere near as bad and has far fewer chemicals within it.  

New rubber gym mats can be more expensive, but they’re going to smell a lot better. You will need to do some research or speak to the manufacturer before purchasing to check what type of rubber is used.

See Also - How Thick Should Rubber Gym Flooring Be?

4. Introduce Mats Gradually 

Most home gyms won’t actually need horse stall mats over their whole floor, and you'll probably only need a few mats to go underneath your gym machines. By limiting the number of mats you have, you will also limit the smell and make it easier to deal with.  

You should also look to introduce the mats into your gym gradually. By bringing 1 in at a time, you can take the time to neutralize the odor on that mat, rather than having several to deal with at once. 

Learn More - Do You Need Rubber Flooring For Home Gyms?

dog laying on home gym stall mat

Prevent Horse Stall Mats From Getting Smelly 

Horse stall mats can smell pretty bad, and because of the materials used, it's difficult to prevent the odors from occurring.

However, getting into a good maintenance routine will help to limit the smell and protect your gym mats so that your flooring lasts longer. Here are some steps you can take to maintain your mats and limit the bad smells: 

Brush The Mat Regularly  

VOCs are released from the recycled crumb rubber mats, but chalk, dust, rust, and sweat can all gather on the mats too.

This can block the surface of the material and stop the VOC from escaping as quickly, causing bad smells to linger for much longer. Sweat can also go into the pores of the rubber and gather within the horse stall mat, which can make them smell even worse. 

Brushing all the dirt from your mats will help stop this from happening, and you should do this every week if possible. Just make sure you gather all of the dirt and other contaminants and dispose of them properly, or it could end up impacting other gym equipment.  

Scrub It Down  

Brushing the surface-level dirt isn't going to be enough, and you'll need to disinfect the gym mats regularly. Use a neutral pH solution and mix it with warm water.

Take your mats into a well-ventilated area and use a light scrubbing brush, or mop, to clean both sides. Focus on any areas with visible staining, and then leave the whole mat to dry for a few hours.  

You should look to thoroughly clean your horse stall mats every 2 weeks for the best results. If your mats are new, you can also scrub them down daily with warm water. This will encourage the pores to open and release the VOCs generated within the rubber mat more quickly.  

Read Also - How To Clean Rubber Gym Flooring

Use Essential Oils 

A great way to neutralize the smell from your horse stall mats is to use essential oils. Putting a few drops of lemon or lavender oil into your soapy mixture when you clean the mats will aid in the cleaning process and cover up the smell.

This will dry on the mats and should give you a refreshed and invigorating odor in your gym.

man cleaning horse stall mats in gym

Frequently Asked Horse Stall Rubber Mat Questions 

Is horse stall mat rubber odor toxic? 

Many toxic chemicals are used in the production of horse stall mats, but the manufacturers do treat them so that the mats themselves aren’t hazardous. However, it's still a good idea to only place them in well-ventilated rooms, especially when they’re new.  

How long do horse stall mats smell for on average? 

Horse stall mats will smell pretty bad for 10-20 days, but after that, it will become less noticeable.  

Can you leave horse stall mats outside?  

Horse stall mats are generally considered water-resistant and not waterproof. This means that they'll be fine against sweat, but you shouldn't leave them outside in rainy conditions. It is a good idea to leave them out in the sunshine, though, because the heat can help to remove some of the foul odors.  


The rubber and chemicals used in the production of horse stall mats can make them smell bad, and this can overpower a small home gym.

This will get better over time, but by following the steps in this article and regularly cleaning your horse stall mats, you can accelerate the process. This should leave your home gym feeling and smelling fresh and give you a much better environment to work out in.

Last Updated on December 18, 2022

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Andrew White

Andrew White is the co-founder of Garage Gym Pro. As an expert fitness professional (gym building nerd) with over 10 years of industry experience, he enjoys writing about everything there is to do with modern fitness & the newest market innovations for garage gyms. When he isn’t testing out products for his readers, he’s usually out surfing or playing basketball.