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How To Get the Rubber Smell Out of Weights

How To Get the Rubber Smell Out of Weights? (Explained)

New purchases for most items will have a fresh and pleasant smell right out of the box. When you order some rubber dumbbells for your home gym, most people imagine opening up the pallet or cardboard packaging to be greeted with a fresh-smelling set. 

In reality, most people find the complete opposite. A fresh, brand new set of rubber dumbbells once opened will have a strong toxic smell that has most gym beginners wondering if they’ve received a faulty or poor-quality batch. 

Before jumping on to customer service or requesting a refund, you might be reassured to hear that this smell is completely normal for new rubber weights and dumbbells. Just because it’s normal, it doesn’t mean people are happy to just accept it!

Therefore, I’ll cover how to get the rubber smell out of dumbbells in this article. I’ll give some tips and tricks on easily getting your rubber dumbbells to an odor that you’d expect from new gym equipment. 

Why Do New Rubber Dumbbells and Weight Plates Smell?

Brand new rubber dumbbells and weight plates sometimes arrive with an alarming rubber smell. Buyers have been complaining about this issue for years. The cause of the toxic dumbbell smell is two-fold:

First, rubber dumbbells or weight plates are exposed to air when they are shipped. This exposure to oxygen causes oils in the rubber to oxidize (burn up).

Second, rubber dumbbells and weight plates are made using recycled rubber. The rubber equipment often sits boxed up for months during transport, allowing the fumes to build up.

Are New Rubber Weights and Dumbbells Safe?

Have you ever opened up a new weight or dumbbell and been overwhelmed by fumes? This smell is caused by volatile organic compounds (VOCs). 

While a little of this gas isn’t likely to cause any harm, if there is enough present and you spend too much time breathing it in, you could start feeling weak or having headaches. Therefore, you should not ignore the smell and will need to address these fumes. 

How To Get The Rubber Smell Out of Weights

Here are four ways you can get rid of a rubber weight or dumbbell smell: 

  1. Ventilate dumbbells odors
  2. Wash odors away
  3. Treat odors with rubbing alcohol
  4. Absorb odors

1. Airing Out Smelly Weights

Although it may take two to three weeks, weights dumbbells will begin to smell better as they air out and lose their initial rubbery odor. Improving ventilation in your home gym is one way to help the plates start smelling better. You can also leave them outside for a few hours to get rid of the fumes outside of your home.

Another option is to use a dehumidifier in your garage gym or keep your weights outdoors. Do this initially to acclimatize them (I don’t know if that’s the correct term, can you acclimatize weights?).

2. Washing The Fumes Away

Another way to eliminate dumbbell smells is a good cleaning. Use warm water and mild soap to hand wash your weight plates.

Washing will help remove oils and odors present on the rubber areas of a dumbbell. Be sure to thoroughly dry after cleaning to prevent rust on your weights (even rubber dumbbells can rust through once worn down).

3. Using Rubbing Alcohol To Remove Smells

Rubbing alcohol is a popular cleaning solution for getting rid of the rubber dumbbell smell. 

First, clean the dumbbell using warm water and soap. Next, apply rubbing alcohol over any areas where you notice smells to remove petrochemicals in the dumbbells. Let the dumbbell air dry thoroughly before placing it back in storage or using them. 

4. Using Odor Absorbers To Remove Rubber Smells

Surprisingly, kitty litter and baking soda are two highly useful odor absorbers when removing rubber smells.

Kitty Litter: Fill a spacious container or trash bag with kitty litter and add your weights or dumbbells. Leave for a few days for the best results.

Baking Soda – This natural solution can help eliminate odors by being in the same room as your rubber exercise equipment. For example, add some baking soda to a bowl or cup and leave it in your workout area for an indefinite period of time. Baking soda will help with rubber fumes and other gym odors.

How To Clean Rubber Dumbbells and Weight Plates

Rubber dumbbell handles can smell due to sweat, bacteria, moisture, and oils from your hands. 

It is essential to clean dumbbells regularly to remove these excess oils and residues. Cleaning rubber dumbbells and weight plates frequently will limit odor build-up and help prevent rust or damage to the dumbbells over time.

To get rid of sweat, odors, and bacteria naturally, wash the dumbbell or weight with warm water and soap. Next, rub a small amount of rubbing alcohol on the dumbbell handle and let dry for 30 minutes before storing away at room temperature.

Popular Cleaning Products for Dumbbells and Weights

If you need deep cleaning products for weights, dumbbells, or other exercise equipment, consider using professional-grade cleaners and degreasers. Cleaners designed explicitly for dumbbell handles and weights are available for purchase online and at sporting stores.

How Often Do Weights & Dumbbells Need to Be Cleaned?

To extend the life of dumbbells and weights, you should quickly clean them after each use. This can involve wiping them down and sanitizing them but then every month you should give your weights a more thorough clean for long-term maintenance.

You may also want to consider washing and sanitizing your dumbbells after every few workouts and then monthly or quarterly for additional maintenance. By cleaning your dumbbells every four to twelve weeks, you will prevent the weights from developing unpleasant smells and limit the damage caused by dirt and oil.

Will Cleaning Cause Damage?

In most cases, you will not cause damage to your dumbbells by cleaning them or drying them. However, dumbbells can rust if they are not dried appropriately after being washed. Therefore, be sure to air the dumbbells out and dry them thoroughly before storing them.

I mentioned this earlier but rubber dumbbells or weight plates are not just manufactured with rubber, this wouldn’t give them enough weight. Rubber is used for a coating and external layer, the core will still be iron which is susceptible to rusting. 

Therefore, any tears or splits in the rubber could lead to rusting and degradation so pay attention to this when cleaning and drying your rubber dumbbells and weights. 


If you’ve opened a new delivery of rubber dumbbells, anticipating a clean and fresh smell only to be greeted by a strong toxic odor, then fear not. This is a very normal occurrence for new rubber dumbbells as they oxidize and build up fumes when sat in a box/storage for a significant amount of time. 

Many rubber dumbbells are manufactured and then boxed up ready for storage a long time before anyone actually orders them and they get shipped. This storage period allows the buildup of fumes but it’s important to note that while the smell seems toxic, they are definitely non-toxic items!

Manufacturers would be in substantial legal trouble if they were shipping toxic equipment. 

While this smell on rubber dumbbells is normal, it’s also unwanted. Therefore, using the tips laid out above you can easily and quickly get rid of the strong rubber smell and start to get the most out of your new set with some intense training sessions.