Why Do My Dumbbells Smell and What to Do About It?

Have you ever asked yourself, “Why do my dumbbells smell and what to do about it?” 

It is typical for a brand new set of rubber dumbbells to have a strong, unpleasant, and toxic odor. However, this odor is not unusual for dumbbells and unknown rubber weights. 

When this happens, you need not worry. In this article, we explain the reasons why your dumbbells smell and how you can ultimately push out the odor. 

Let’s proceed!

Reasons Why New Rubber Dumbbells and Weight Plates Smell

There are two significant reasons for this unpleasant rubber smell.

Firstly, it is a result of the fact that rubber dumbbells and weight plates are made from recycled rubber. Fumes accumulate due to the rubber equipment stacking in boxes for months while in transit.

Secondly, the rubber dumbbells and weight plates are usually laid open to the air during transit or shipping. As a result, the oils in the rubber oxidate.

Therefore, the above reasons clarify why your brand new rubber dumbbells and weight plates give you a putrid smell after purchase.

How Do I Get Rid of Strong Rubber Smell From My Rubber Gym Equipment?

Why Do My Dumbbells Smell and What to Do About It

There are several ways by which you can get the strong rubber smell out of your rubber weight or dumbbell:

1. Airing

Airing the dumbbells and rubber weights is one of the easiest methods to eliminate the strong rubber odor from your rubber equipment. However, this method takes a great deal of time, about two to three weeks.

Moreover, improving the ventilation in your workout space is pertinent to enhancing airing. You can also place the equipment outside the workout room or in an outdoor area that harbors fresh air for a few hours.

In addition, you can permanently store this rubber equipment outside or use an air conditioner in your workout space.

2. Make Use of Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is effective when it comes to combating rubber smells. Before application, do well to wash the rubber weights with mild soap and warm water. 

After this, apply the rubbing alcohol to where the odor is dominated to remove excess oils and petrochemicals. Lastly, thoroughly air-dry the dumbbells before storing them.

3. Washing

Washing is a powerful method of combating the odor on your rubber equipment. Doing this eliminates oils and unpleasant smells in your dumbbells and weight plates.

Use mild soap and warm water to aggressively wash all the nooks and crannies of the equipment until the smell is gone. After the washing, make sure you dry it to avoid rusting.

4. Absorbing the Odor

Various materials can absorb odors from rubber equipment. Some of them include; kitty litter, charcoal grill, and baking soda. 

We will better explain each of these materials to be familiar with using them and their several functions.

5. Kitty Litter

Shockingly, a cat litter can absorb the smell of rubber weights. 

To use it, fill a bag or a container with a substantial amount of kitty litter and place the dumbbells. After that, leave the equipment there for a few days or till the smell vanishes.

6. Baking Soda

Baking soda is a pretty effective substance that eliminates smells in dumbbells and weight plates. Pour the baking soda into a bowl and place it in your workout space until the odor is eliminated.

7. Charcoal Grill

Crush a sufficient amount of the charcoal and put it in a bowl. Then, leave it in the gym space till the unpleasant smell is eliminated.

8. Make Use of Air Fresheners

Air fresheners are generally known for combating unpleasant odors by overpowering them. Spray the air freshener across the room, and there will be an aura of freshness.

However, this method only works temporarily and does not tackle the primary source of the odor. It is not an effective means of tackling rubber smells.

The above methods will help you combat the unpleasant smell your rubber equipment might ooze, making you enjoy your workout session.

How to Clean Rubber Dumbbells and Weight Plates

Why Do My Dumbbells Smell and What to Do About It

Sweat, bacteria, moisture, and oils can cause the smell of your rubber dumbbell grips. Therefore, cleaning these dumbbells from time to time is essential to remove this dirt.

Frequent cleaning of rubber dumbbells and weight plates will curb the building up of odor and push out damage or rust to the dumbbells.

To eliminate the dirt on your rubber equipment, wash it with warm water and a mild soap bar. After this, rub a little bit of rubbing alcohol on the dumbbell grip and allow it to dry for some time before storage.

How Do I Maintain My Rubber Dumbbells and Weight Plates?

Rubber dumbbells and weight plates must be properly cleaned and maintained for them to last for a very long time. 

There are two types of rubber-coated dumbbells: One type is fully covered with rubber, including the part where you hold the dumbbell. Meanwhile, the other type is such that the ends alone are covered with rubber. Waterproof synthetic rubber is used chiefly for the rubber coating of this new gym equipment. 

To maintain the rubber dumbbells and weight plates, keep them indoors and protected from direct sunlight as ultraviolet rays can cause damage to them. 

Also, clean them after each use, sanitize them after a few workouts and wash them monthly or quarterly.

How to Clean Neoprene Dumbbells and Weight Plates

The cleaning process is quite simple and fast. Use a soapy water mixture and a damp cloth to clean neoprene dumbbells and weight plates. Dismantle the workout equipment and wipe it slowly with the fabric, after which you use another dry cloth or rag to dry it.

How to Clean Rubber Residue Left on Rubber Weights and Dumbbells

Removing the rubber residues on your rubber weights and dumbbells is pertinent, and there are ways to go about it.

Firstly, place the rubber weights and dumbbells on a clean surface. Then, pour a bit of isopropyl alcohol and use a clean cloth to rub off the residue. Finally, rinse the rubber equipment with water and dry it with another fabric.

Why Should I Clean My Rubber Dumbbells and Weight Plates?

You should clean and take care of your rubber dumbbells and weight plates for them to last longer than ever. 

When you take your time to maintain your rubber gym equipment, you won’t have to worry about getting new equipment.

How Often Do You Need to Clean Your Rubber Equipment?

It is pertinent to clean your rubber equipment from time to time to function appropriately for a very long time. After each use, wipe and sanitize the equipment but subject it to thorough cleaning every month.

Additionally, you can wash and sanitize them after a few workouts and monthly to prolong their lifespan. Regular rubber equipment cleaning will protect it from putrid smells and excess oil.

Does Cleaning Cause Damage?

Generally, cleaning a rubber dumbbell and weight plate does not cause damage to the equipment. The only side effect of cleaning is rusting or when you do not properly dry the equipment after washing.

Therefore, we advise air-drying your rubber equipment after washing them to give them a fresh smell and free them from rust.

Everyday Cleaning Products for Dumbbells and Weights

Degreasers and professional-grade cleaners are great cleaning products for your rubber equipment. Also, the market produces cleaning products, especially dumbbells and plates. You can purchase these products from sports and online stores.

As stated earlier, dumbbells and weight plates are usually smelly even when recently unpacked from the carton. However, certain brands and types are free from this odor problem. 

We advise you to purchase urethane dumbbells and weight plates for your next equipment purchase. They are popularly known for zero odors.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you get rid of the chemical rubber smell?

There are various ways to eliminate the chemical rubber smell from your equipment. For instance, you can expose them to fresh air by keeping them in an open space. 

You can also deal with the smell by exposing them to direct sunlight as the sun’s ultraviolet rays remove the odor, washing thoroughly with mild soap and warm water, and absorbing the smell with baking soda.

How do you maintain dumbbells?

You can maintain your dumbbells by washing them regularly, keeping them away from harsh chemicals such as bleach, solvents, Ammonia, Lysol, and other sharp objects.

How do I keep my dumbbells clean?

Keeping your dumbbells clean is an easy task that involves mixing dish soap with water, washing the dumbbells with soapy water and a cloth, wiping away the soap residue with a damp cloth, and drying it after cleaning to prevent rust.

Why are my dumbbells oily?

Manufacturers usually use oil to preserve the dumbbells, which explains why some of this equipment is generally oily upon unboxing from the carton.

You can remove this oil by gently wiping the dumbbell.

From all the above explanations, we believe you will no longer bother about the unpleasant smell of your dumbbells, and you will also clean them appropriately. 


Why Do My Dumbbells Smell and What to Do About It

This article has successfully countered a problem that workout enthusiasts face: the unpleasant smell that oozes from dumbbells and weight plates.

We have carefully laid out the essential and working tips for handling this issue.

If you found this article helpful and want to learn more about workout equipment and how to care for them, then check out more of the similar articles we have on Expert Fitness.

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Nathan Lloyd, MSc

I’m a personal trainer, based in Boulder, Colorado.
I service clients physically in the Boulder area, mainly in the ONE Boulder Fitness Gym, but am also available for online consulting and coaching.

If you’re interested in my personal coaching programs, please contact me via the contact page.