How to get the smell out of horse stall mats? A Step-by-Step Guide

Nov 05, 2023 | Super Equestrian


How to get the smell out of horse stall mats

Imagine walking into a horse barn filled with the sweet scent of fresh hay, the gentle whinnying of horses, and the soft sound of hooves on stall mats. Suddenly, you're hit with an overpowering stench of urine that makes your eyes moisten and your stomach churn. 

“Ewww!! What was that?” The smell of urine-soaked stall mats. So, how can you eliminate the odors and keep your barn smelling fresh and clean? Fear not, for in this guide, we'll reveal some clever hacks and effective methods for getting the smell out of horse stall mats.

Stall mats are used in horse stables to provide a pleasant and safe surface for horses to stand on. It helps to reduce the risk of injury, provide an anti-skid surface, and cushion the impact on horses' joints and muscles. 

Furthermore, clean and dry mats increase hygiene, lowering the risk of infection and disease. Also, minimize the cost of bedding and stall maintenance. Overall, stall mats are important for the health and well-being of horses and are an excellent investment for any equine facility. Unpleasant smells in horse stall mats are a common problem for many horse owners. These odors, which are generated by urine and dung buildup, are not only annoying but also harmful to horses and humans. 

So, in this article, we are going to help you out from this unpleasant situation and guide you step-by-step through identifying the cause, the proper cleaning procedure, method and maintenance. 

Whether you're a seasoned horse owner or just starting, get ready to embark on a journey of discovery and learn how to transform your barn into a sweet-smelling sanctuary. So, put on your rubber boots and let's dive in! 

What are The Causes of Unpleasant Odors in Horse Stall Mats

As a horse owner or keeper, you may have noticed that the mats in your horse's stall sometimes emit an unpleasant odor. This odor can be quite strong and disgusting which makes the stable unsuitable for both you and your horse. Awful odors in horse stall mats can be caused by a number of factors. Among the most common factors are:

  1. Urine and feces accumulation: The accumulation of urine and feces is a major cause of unpleasant smells in horse stall mats. As urine seeps into the rough surface of the rugs, it creates a warm and moist environment that is ideal for bacteria to grow and multiply. Bacteria produce waste products that emit a foul stench, which might intensify if the urine is not cleaned up soon.
  2. Dampness and mold growth: Dampness and mold growth is another cause of bad scents in horse stall mats. Moisture can accumulate and promote the formation of mold and mildew if the mats are not allowed to dry properly. These fungi generate a musty, earthy odor that can be quite unpleasant. In addition to the stinky smell, mildew and mold can also cause health issues in horses and humans.
  3. Insufficient ventilation: Inadequate ventilation in horse stalls might cause undesirable scents emanating from the carpets or rugs. Poor ventilation can produce stagnant air and humidity which helps to create an ideal breeding environment for bacteria and germs. This bacterial buildup can cause the mats to release bad odor that are harmful to both the horse and keepers.
  4. Inadequate cleaning: Inadequate or inconsistent cleaning practices can cause obnoxious scents to originate from any surface, including horse stall matting. This can lead to the accumulation of dirt, hair and other debris, which can contribute to the production of foul-smelling compounds.
  5. Poor quality mats: Low-quality stall carpets or worn-out matting are more vulnerable to odor formation. The older the mats, the more likely they are to absorb and retain moisture and bacteria.

In some cases, unpleasant scents in stall mats may be a sign of chronic health problems in horses, such as urinary tract or digestion difficulties. Therefore, it is important to address the stall mat odor problem before it causes any serious health problems for the horses.

How to Prepare a Cleaning Process to Remove Bad Odors

Whether it is the smell of musty carpets, pet odors, or moldy cooking smells, bad odors can be unpleasant and make your living space less welcoming. Same goes for horse stalls or stables. Stall mats provide a comfortable surface for your one-toed mammal to stand on, but over time, they can develop horrible smells due to the buildup of dirt, moisture, and bacteria. 

In this section, we'll take you through some simple steps on how to prepare a cleaning process that will help eliminate bad odors from your stall mats

  • Gathering necessary supplies: Having all of the necessary products on hand before beginning a cleaning process to remove unwanted odors will help ensure that the method is efficient and effective. Here are some supplies that you may need:
  1. Cleaning solutions: There are several cleaning solutions that you can use for the process such as baking soda, vinegar, enzyme cleaner, activated charcoal, hydrogen peroxide and more others. Make sure to always test any cleaning solution on a small, obscure area first, to ensure it doesn't damage the surface or material.
  2. Brushes and scrubbers: Choosing the right brushes and scrubbers can help make the job easier and more effective. For example, bristle brushes, scrub brushes, toothbrushes for tight or hard-to-reach areas, microfiber cloths and sponges. 
  3. Protective gear: It is important to consider wearing protective gear to avoid exposure to harmful chemicals or bacteria. Including gloves, mask(N95 mask), goggles, aprons and closed-toe shoes. To avoid the spread of bacteria or foul odors, try to get rid of any disposable equipment and clean reusable equipment after each use. 
  • Removing the horse from the stall: Removing the horse from the stall is an important stage in the cleaning procedure. Because it is necessary for the horse's protection. Some cleaning products can be harmful to horses, especially if they are applied in large quantities or any horses inhale the fumes. 
  • Ventilate the stable or stall: Ventilating the stable or stall helps to remove any bad odors that may be present. Open windows and doors to create cross-ventilation. Use fans or other air-circulating devices to increase airflow. If weather conditions permit, leave the stable or stall open for a few hours to allow for maximum ventilation. 
  • Clearing out any debris and manure: Following all of the above steps, the next and most important step is cleaning. To do so, remove any dirt and manure from the stall to create a fresh surface for the cleaning procedure. Then, use the cleaning procedures to make the place spotless.
  • Rinse and dry the mats: Rinsing and drying the matting is typically the last step of the cleaning process. It is important to ensure that all cleaning solutions and debris are removed from the mats and dry completely. 

What are the Cleaning Methods for Horse Stall Mats

"Cleanliness is next to godliness," the saying goes, and this certainly applies to keeping a horse's stall clean. But as any horse owner can agree, it is not always easy to keep stall mats clean and odor-free. That's why it's important to know the different cleaning methods, so you can find the one that works best for you and your horse. Let's explore some of the most effective cleaning methods for horse stall mats.

  • Removing debris and manure: To keep your horse stall mats clean, you need to remove debris and manure regularly. Use a broom, shovel, or rake to sweep or scrape off the debris, and make sure to be as thorough as possible. This is the first and most vital step in keeping your horse's stall clean and sanitary. 
  • Hosing down the mats: Hosing down your horse stall mats is a great way to get rid of dirt, dust, and loose debris. Remove any large debris before hosing down the matting inside or outside the stall. The water pressure will wash away any remaining material.
  • Using a cleaner specifically designed for horse stall mats: For a deep-clean and to get rid of persistent smells in horse stall mats, you can use a special cleaner made for this purpose. These cleaners are designed to break down and remove organic matter, bacteria, and sources of odors that might be stuck in the mats.

Simply apply the cleaner and let it sit for 10-15 minutes, then use a broom or scrub brush to work it into the mats. Rinse the mats well with water and let them dry completely. This method is a great way to keep your horse's stall mats clean, odor-free, and comfortable.

  • Using a pressure washer: If your horse stall mats are very dirty, using a pressure washer is a powerful way to get them clean. A pressure washer uses high-pressure water to blast away dirt, grime, and debris. First, apply a cleaning solution made for horse stall mats and let it sit for a while. Then, use the pressure washer to rinse the mats with water.Be careful not to hold the pressure washer too close to the mats, or they could get damaged.
  • Using a mixture of vinegar and water: This technique is simple and easy for all horse owners. you can use a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar. Simply spray the liquid onto the mats, then repeat the cleaning process.This method is eco-friendly, affordable, and safe for most surfaces, but it is best to test it on a small area of the mat first.
  • Using a mixture of baking soda and water: For a natural and effective way to clean stall mats and get rid of smells, you can use a baking soda and water solution. Simply make a mixture, apply it to the mats with a scrub brush, let it sit for a few minutes, rinse fully with water, and allow the mats dry.

This technique is also safe, non-toxic, and inexpensive, but may not work as well on heavily soiled carpets or mats with strong odors.

Maintenance to Prevent Unpleasant Odors in Horse Stall Mats

"A clean stall is a happy stall," as the old saying goes. To ensure a happy stall, regular cleaning is essential in avoiding undesirable odors in horse stall mats. Here are some tips to help maintain your mats and keep them odor-free:

  • Regular cleaning and hosing down: Clean up manure and urine promptly. Sweep daily to remove debris. Hose down mats every 1-2 weeks.
  • Proper ventilation: Ensure good air circulation in your horse's stall. Use fans to reduce moisture and promote air movement.
  • Use of odor-absorbing products: Use baking soda or activated charcoal to absorb and neutralize odors. Consider safe fresheners or odor-control products designed for horse stalls.
  • Allow mats to dry completely: Allow mats to dry completely before replacing them after cleaning. Use a moisture-wicking mat underneath stall mats to prevent moisture buildup.
  • Rotate and flip mats regularly: Rotate the position of the mats periodically to prevent excessive wear and tear to prevent the buildup of bacteria and odors.
  • Replace mats as needed: Inspect your mats regularly for signs of wear, damage, or mold growth and replace mats as needed 

Final Thoughts

In this article, we discuss the causes of unpleasant odors in horse stall mats, as well as provide a guide on how to remove bad smells. We recommend preparing a cleaning process and different methods. It's important for us as horse owners and caretakers to keep the mats clean for the comfort of the horse.

Please share with us in the comments section below if you have any different thoughts or methods for removing smells from horse stall mats.

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