Your long-awaited yoga mat has arrived and is ready for hours of yoga practice. However, to your dismay, your brand new yoga mat emanates a strong, rubbery, chemical odor that dulls the excitement. Sometimes, the rubber smell can be so strong that it causes headaches as you move through your yoga flows.
While you might be tempted to buy a different mat or scrap yoga altogether, don’t be discouraged. Although the odor is unpleasant, it’s a normal side effect of new mats made of certain materials. Here are a few potential methods to eliminate unwanted smells wafting from your yoga mat.
Why Does My Yoga Mat Smell Like Rubber?
Most yoga mats emit odor to some degree, although some materials are smellier than others. Whether your mat is composed of bamboo, rubber, jute, or PVC, there’s a good chance it won’t smell particularly friendly when you first buy it.
Natural materials might not smell as bad, but yoga mats made of synthetic materials (such as PVC) generally don’t smell pleasant. Many times, you’ll notice a distinct plastic and chemical smell as soon as you unbox the mat.
The reason for the odor comes from the additives in the mat and combined with the chemical reactions and processes necessary to make synthetic materials, the mat will smell strong. Many manufacturers treat synthetic yoga mats with plasticizers (which contributes to the smell of the mat).
Although these plasticizers add flexibility to the mat and support a longer lifespan, they will contribute to the chemical smell emanating from it.
Natural rubber yoga mats, in particular, are known for the pungent odor that is almost impossible to get rid of. However, there are a few methods you can use to lessen the odor and encourage its departure.
How Do You Neutralize The Smell Of Rubber?
Neutralizing the rubber or chemical smell is tricky, especially if you have a natural rubber or synthetic mat. They can smell incredibly strong, with a scent similar to walking into a tire shop. If you have a natural jute or cork mat, the smell usually dissipates within a few weeks and is much weaker than the odor from natural/recycled rubber or synthetic mats.
Here are a few ways to neutralize or weaken the rubbery, chemical-ish smell of your yoga mat:
Give It Time
The longer you have your mat, the weaker the smell will become. So, if the scent isn’t overpowering to the point it gives you a headache, you might be able to wait it out. Leave the mat unrolled in a well-ventilated space in your home, giving it time to air out entirely after arriving.
However, if the smell is intolerable and gives you a headache every time you use it, use one of the following methods to dull the smell.
Hang It Outside
You can also hang your yoga mat outside. If you hang laundry out to dry, you’ll know the power of a few hours of sunshine and fresh air. Hang the mat to your clothesline or over a chair outside for a few hours. This will give the mat time to air out and lose its powerful odor.
Note: If you have a natural rubber mat, don’t leave it in direct sunlight. These mats are heat and sun-sensitive, so leaving them outside in the sunshine could damage the mat.
Another way to combat powerful odors is with a nice, hot soak. Here’s what you’ll need:
- White vinegar or baking soda
- Essential oil
- Soft cloth
Fill your bathtub with a few inches of hot water, then add a cup of vinegar (or a half cup of baking soda) and a few drops of your favorite essential oil (tea tree, lavender, peppermint, etc.).
Vinegar and baking soda are both excellent deodorizers, so you can use whichever one you have on hand. While you don’t have to add essential oils, they’ll help mask and remove the odors from the mat.
Let the mat soak in the tub for at least an hour or longer as necessary. Ensure the mat is fully submerged in the water. Wipe down both sides of the mat using a soft cloth to clean off any gunk or residue. Once the mat is done soaking, drain the bathtub and rinse the mat with clean water.
Hang the mat on a clothing rack or a clothesline (as long as it isn’t natural rubber) to dry completely. Don’t roll the mat before it’s dry, as this can create the perfect environment for mold and mildew.
Use Apple Cider Vinegar
If you don’t have a bathtub to soak the mat, you can enlist the help of water and apple cider vinegar. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Spray bottle
- Apple cider vinegar
- Essential oil (optional)
- Soft cloth
Fill a spray bottle with a 50/50 mixture of the two, then add a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Spritz the mat liberally with the solution, ensuring it covers the entire surface.
Wipe down the side you spray, then flip it over and spray the other side. Wipe the excess solution from the mat’s surface, then hang it on a clothes rack to dry. Remember to let the mat dry completely before putting it away.
Use Witch Hazel
Witch hazel is another option to combat the unwelcome scents residing on your yoga mat. It helps lift the rubbery, chemical odors and replaces them with a more pleasant aroma of your choice. You can find witch hazel in a few different scents, including regular, lavender, and rose.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Spray bottle
- Witch hazel
- Essential oil (optional)
- Soft cloth
Fill a spray bottle about two-thirds full with witch hazel. You can find witch hazel online or from your local grocery store in several scents. Fill the bottle with water the rest of the way, then add a few drops of your favorite essential oil (optional).
Spray the mat liberally with the witch hazel solution, then wipe it down with a soft cloth. Spray and wipe both sides, then hang the mat to dry on a clothes rack. If the smell is pungent, it might take a few applications and time to loosen and remove the scent. Over time, the solution will replace the unpleasant odors with a fresh, sweet smell.
Use Mat Cleaner
Premade and homemade mat cleaners are great options for lifting powerful odors from a new yoga mat. Many yoga brands offer a premade mat cleaner, many of which are made with essential oils to give your mat a pleasant smell.
However, if you prefer to stick with a homemade solution, you can always pre-make a cleaner and store it in a spray bottle for quick and easy cleaning. Homemade cleaners often contain vinegar, baking soda, essential oils, lemon, or other smell-blocking ingredients.
Here are a few excellent homemade mat cleaners for easy cleaning and deodorizing. They’ll work for lifting the new mat smell, but they double as a mat cleaner after a particularly sweaty hot yoga session.