Horse stall mats are the most cost-effective home gym flooring solution. While a lot is said about choosing horse stall mats over the conventional rubber gym tiles, the proper way to clean the mats is often overlooked, which can make your training space look shabby, turn your home gym into a breeding ground for bacteria, and increase your risk of injury.
To deep clean horse stall mats in home gyms, use the following steps — use a leaf blower to remove the dirt and debris, take the mats outdoors, and brush them thoroughly. Then, disinfect the mats before reinstalling them. Finally, ensure proper ventilation to improve your mats’ longevity.
I stumbled upon horse stall mats in 2011 while building my own home gym. Since then, I have helped more than 10 friends and clients install them in their garage and basement gyms. Here is the most effective way of keeping the hose stall mats in your home gym spotless:
How To Clean Horse Stall Mats in Your Gym
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to clean your gym floor for the best results:
Step One — Use a Leaf Blower
Begin cleaning using a leaf blower to remove the loose dirt and debris from the mats. Keep your garage gym door open and direct the blower to expel dirt outward. Folks who have installed the mats in their basement gym should gather all the dust in a single corner of the room and use a vacuum to clean it up.
Expert Tip: A leaf blower can transfer the dirt and debris from the floor to other gym equipment. So, begin your gym cleansing project with the floor and then move on to cleaning the equipment. Alternatively, you could cover the training equipment with plastic sheets.
Step Two — Remove the Mats
This step is especially important for people dealing with smelly horse stall mats. Uproot the mats and take them to an area that receives sunlight throughout the day. Cleaning the mats in this area will help eliminate the odor.
Home gym owners who’ve glued or taped down their horse stall mats can skip this step. That said, if your horse stall mats have an odor, you should treat them before gluing them to the floor. Waiting for the smell to dissipate can take weeks or even months if the area is not well-ventilated.
Expert Tip: With the mats out, use a leaf blower to blow the dust off the floor. Mopping the floor can also improve the mats’ grip.
Step Three — Brush
Floor mats of advanced home gym owners are usually dirtier than those of beginners, thanks to the gym chalk, sweat, and spilled supplements. If not cleaned regularly, these things usually form a thick, hard layer on top of the gym mats.
Use a hard brush to remove all the dirt and debris on both sides of the mats. Most horse stall mats are made using vulcanized rubber, which is nonporous, meaning it shouldn’t take you a lot of time to brush down the mats.
Expert Tip: Brush the floor to ensure the surface is even. Settled dirt and debris can cause bumps during mat installation.
Step Four — Disinfect and Mop
Use a mixture of antibacterial soap, neutral pH solution, baking soda, and essential oil to clean and deodorize the horse stall mats. If the mats are too dirty, clean them multiple times before letting them dry in the sun. Flip the mats after some time to expose both sides to sunlight. Mop the floors using the same antibacterial solution and let it dry under a fan.
Reinstall the mats in your home gym. I like to mop the mats one final time after the mats are installed. Remember, you can never have overly clean gym floor mats. This extra step only takes five additional minutes.
Expert Tip: Tape the seams before mopping to ensure the water doesn’t seep through. Since horse stall mats are nonporous, it doesn’t absorb water or sweat.
Step Five — Prioritize Ventilation
Installing wet mats in your gyms can significantly hamper their longevity. Ensure the mats are dry before bringing them back to your gym. Keep the doors and windows open and let the fan run for at least a day to ensure proper ventilation and reduce the buildup of odors.
Expert Tip: People who train in their basements should skip mopping the floor after reinstalling the mats. Plus, you don’t have to reinstall all the mats at the same time. You can do it gradually.
Maintenance Tips For Horse Stall Mats in Home Gyms
Here are the horse stall mat maintenance tips you must consider:
Clean The Mats Regularly
Clean the horse stall mats at least once monthly. For optimal longevity, do it each week. I recommend storing all the cleaning material in your home gym to eliminate friction and setting a recurring reminder on your phone.
Remember, you shouldn’t wait to clean the mats until they are visibly dirty. Besides dirt and debris, gym floors also gather bacteria, which can hurt your overall health and well-being. Also, you don’t have to clean all the mats on the same day. Segment the cleaning process so the busiest area of your gym is always tidy.
Avoid Spilling Water on the Mats
Most horse stall mats use nonporous vulcanized rubber. It doesn’t absorb water or sweat. Mop the floor after each workout to ensure there is no water on the mats’ surface. Leaving the water on the floor can lead to stubborn water stains. Plus, the water might seep through the cracks and gaps and accumulate on the floor.
Water on the floor can affect the stability of the mats, increasing the risk of slippage and injury during training. You can also find non-vulcanized rubber horse stall mats, but they usually cost more than the vulcanized variants.
Inspect the Mats Regularly (Replace Them When Needed)
Regularly check the mats for signs of wear and tear, such as cracks, holes, or unevenness. Corners and edges are the most prone to cracks, especially if you remove and reinstall the mats each week for cleaning.
Contrary to what most people think, gym mats are not a ‘set it and forget it’ solution. Consider replacing the mats on the first signs of wear and tear or if the mats become uneven or slippery. Horse stall mats are relatively inexpensive, and replacing them won’t break the bank.
As a rule of thumb, you should replace your horse stall gym mats every five to seven years. It can significantly limit the risk of injury and improve your training performance.
Use a Mat Scrubbing Machine
A mat scrubbing machine requires initial investment but will pay dividends in the long run. It is non-negotiable for home gym owners who have glued the horse stall mats to the floor and cannot take them outdoors for thorough cleaning.
You can purchase a commercial mat scrubber for as low as $100 on Amazon. A mat scrubbing machine makes cleaning more convenient and less time-consuming, allowing you to clean your gym floor each week thoroughly.
Store the Mats Properly
How you store the mats during the cleaning process can significantly impact the end result. Avoid stacking the horse stall mats, as it limits sunlight exposure. Spread them on a clean surface and flip them over at equal intervals to ensure thorough cleaning.
Also, store the mats in a dry and cool place to prevent damage from moisture and heat. The biggest thing with storing horse stall mats is that there should be absolutely no water on them, as it can lead to cracks, holes, and lumps, reducing their longevity.
How Often Should You Clean the Horse Stall Mats?
Multiple factors, including frequency of use, the number of users, and the location of your home gym, can influence the cleaning frequency of your horse stall mats. I recommend cleaning your gym floor biweekly.
The first could be a mopping-only cleaning session, whereas the second must include deep cleaning, where you remove the mats and take them outside for disinfection and soaking in the sun.
That said, make sure you vacuum large pieces of debris and chalk whenever they appear. A neat and clean gym can skyrocket your productivity, improve your training performance, and reduce the risk of injury.
Keep all your gym equipment, including barbells, weight plates, and dumbbells, off the floor to make cleaning easier. Moving out all the equipment at once can be a hassle and add friction to the cleaning process.
Benefits of Cleaning Horse Stall Mats
These are the advantages of keeping the horse stall mats tidy:
Helps Eliminate and Prevent Unwanted Horse Stall Mat Odor
Here is a warning for people who have never been around a horse stall mat — they stink! Clean new horse stall mats with warm water, vinegar, baking soda, and detergent, and soak them in direct sunlight for a few days before bringing them indoors. However, even then, these mats might not be completely odor-free.
Cleaning the mats regularly using the steps mentioned in this article can help eliminate the foul smell. Horse stall mats usually require 15 to 20 days of regular treatment before their smell becomes unnoticeable.
Home gyms are a passion project for most fitness enthusiasts. A shoe and water-stained floor can spoil your home gym’s aesthetics. Additionally, training in a dirty gym can hinder your motivation to work out.
Keeping the horse stall mats clean significantly improves your gym’s aesthetics and makes it look more welcoming. Regularly cleaning your gym floor is a no-brainer if you shoot photos and videos for social media in the training facility.
Horse stall mats are notorious for attracting dust and debris. Not cleaning your gym mats for an extended period can compromise their traction, increasing your risk of injury during dynamic exercises like box jumps, snatches, and clean and jerks.
You should avoid using essential oils on the horse stall mats if you’re already facing traction issues. If the problem doesn’t seem to improve after deep cleaning, consider installing a new mat in its place.
Regularly cleaning the gym mats improves their durability and longevity. I recommend getting high-quality stall mats for your home gym, as they will last much longer and retain their shape and texture.
Avoid using rubber abrasive solutions while cleaning the mats. Also, rubber can deteriorate in direct sunlight. Consider spraying the mats with UV protectants before leaving them outdoors for drying. Flip the mats regularly to ensure even wear.
What are the things to avoid while cleaning horse stall mats?
Avoid scrapping the mats with a sharp object to remove redundant marks. Plus, refrain from using harsh chemicals such as bleach or acidic cleaners, as they can damage the rubber and lead to cracks and breakages.
Is it safe to use horse stall mats in home gyms?
Horse stall mats are incredibly strong, sturdy, and supportive, which is everything you need in gym mats. Horse stall mats will protect your floor from damage even after you drop a 300-kilogram barbell on it after locking out a clean and jerk. On the other hand, they are comfortable enough to perform mobility drills without a yoga mat.
My horse stall mats stink. Is this normal?
Horse stall mats are made of recycled tire rubber and use sulfur and urethane as an adhesive. Combining these compounds produces volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emissions, resulting in a foul smell and leading to health issues like eye, nose, and throat irritation and headaches. Cleaning the mats regularly can eliminate VOC emissions over time.
Is it safe to pressure wash horse stall mats?
Yes, you can pressure wash horse stall mats without any issues. However, you must brush down and dry the mats before reinstalling them in your home gym. Horse stall mats use vulcanized rubber, meaning they don’t soak water. Letting the water sit on the rubber expedites wear and tear.
Horse stall mats are durable, stable, supportive, and comfortable. However, they need their fair share of maintenance. Overlooking cleaning the mats can lead to quick wear and tear, increasing your risk of injury.
Using the five-step horse stall cleaning process explained in this article can significantly improve their longevity and your training performance. If you have any queries about cleaning the horse stall or the conventional gym mats, drop them in the comments below, and I’ll be happy to help.