does rubber mulch smell

Does Rubber Mulch Smell?

“Does rubber mulch smell?” This is a question everyone asks whenever they want to buy rubber mulch for a playground or garden. But this is a conflicting question, like any other.

No, rubber mulch doesn’t smell. Also, weather aspects such as rain and sun don’t make the rubber smell. However, NEW rubber mulch does smell. New rubber mulch smell does go away after a few days, though. Normally, three days are enough to have the rubber mulch smell diminish completely.  

I know there are a lot of misconceptions about the rubber mulch smell. So, in this article, I address the concerns about the smell of the mulch and the duration it takes before it dissipates. 

Read on to determine whether the rubbery smell initially present in packed mulch is toxic. 

Does Rubber Mulch Smell?

Fresh rubber mulch from the package smells for a few days. Interestingly, rubber mulch doesn’t have a strong scent as you would expect. Neither is the smell going to linger for long after unpacking the product. After a few days, the smell of the rubber dissipates. 

Have you bought household items for your home, especially those made of rubber and plastic? You bear me witness that once taken out of the package, they’ve a faint smell that usually fades away within a short period. 

For example, you’ve probably experienced this after unpacking freshly bought toys, mattresses, gloves, and balloons. Similarly, the synthetic smell of rubber mulch quickly subsides when left to air out. 

Besides, the faint traces of the rubber mulch are only noticeable if you closely press your nose on the mulch.

Does The Rubber Mulch Smell Go Away?

The rubber mulch smell does go away eventually. Once you lay rubber mulch out on the playground and it airs out, the smell disappears. 

Therefore, after a couple of days have gone by, you’ll forget the rubber mulch smell ever existed.


How Long Does It Take For Rubber Mulch To Stop Smelling?

It takes about 2-3 days after installing the rubber mulch to stop smelling. After that, the scent dissipates, and you can hardly pick up any scent. 

Rubber mulch is made from old shredded tires. After the manufacturer treats and dyes the mulch, it usually smells like a new mattress. 

The smell can be likened to that of brand-new sneakers immediately after purchase.


How Do You Get Rid Of The Smell Of Rubber Mulch?

You get rid of the smell of rubber mulch by airing it out. Spread out the rubber mulch thinly and evenly across the playground or landscape. 

Ensuring you air out the mulch helps diminish the rubbery odor completely.


Does Rubber Mulch Smell In The Sun?

Research shows that a common myth states rubber mulch produces a rubbery smell when the temperatures rise. However, research shows it’s just a myth. 

The good news is that the rubber mulch doesn’t smell when heated by the sun. So, even after exposure to the hot sun, there’s hardly any change in the smell of the rubber mulch.

To have a burning rubber vapor, you need temperatures of more than 1000*F. It’s way above the temperatures on a sunny day. 

Interestingly, the rubber will be thermally hotter than the surrounding area, but it retains less heat than asphalt or cement. 

It means that you can enjoy the benefits of your mulch in all types of weather conditions without worrying.

Will Rubber Mulch Make Your Kids Smell Like Rubber? 

Rubber mulch doesn’t make your kids smell like rubber. The rubber mulch nuggets are dyed and sealed with an odorless sealant. Therefore, they can roll around in the rubber mulch and won’t smell like tires. Also, color won’t rub off on your kids’ clothes.  

Back in the days, playground mulch wasn’t treated, making kids’ clothes dirty and smelly. However, nowadays, rubber mulch meant for the playground is superior and is treated.

Unsealed and undyed rubber mulch leaves a black residue on clothes, though. Also, it leaves some rubber scent if your kids handle it. 

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), rubber mulch is the safest surface cover to lay on a playset. 

In fact, CPSC recommends you purchase treated rubber mulch to install on your playground. 

Does Rubber Mulch Rot And Stink?

Fortunately, rubber mulch doesn’t rot and stink. It’s made from shredded tires; hence it’s inorganic mulch. Inorganic mulch doesn’t decompose and takes a long time to break down.

As a result, using rubber mulch makes it a perfect choice when looking for a long-term solution for your landscape. 

The rotting smell of mulch can be pretty unpleasant. Moreover, the unsightly smell can ruin the aesthetic value mulch could add to landscaping. 

Unlike wood mulch which rots during decomposition, emitting unpleasant smells in the process, rubber mulch doesn’t. 

Additionally, rubber mulch doesn’t attract fungi, mildew, or mold, so you needn’t worry about experiencing mold smells. 

You also won’t have to worry about smells from litter since, unlike other types of mulch, pets don’t use it as a litter box.


Is The Smell Of Rubber Mulch Toxic?

The smell of new rubber mulch isn’t different from that of a tire or a mattress. It might not be a pleasant smell, but the smell of rubber mulch isn’t toxic. 

So, if you feel uncomfortable around your new rubber mulch, you can avoid the area where you’ve installed it for a couple of days until the smell dissipates. 

Does Rubber Mulch Smell When It Gets Wet? 

Rubber mulch doesn’t smell when it gets wet. So, you won’t notice a difference in the smell of the mulch after watering your plants or after it rains. 

Does Rubber Mulch Stink In The Summer? 

 A fact about rubber mulch is that it doesn’t stink during the summer season. Simply put, the heat during summer doesn’t affect the scent of the mulch. 

Does Black Rubber Mulch Stink? 

Black rubber mulch doesn’t stink, although it has a distinctive odor. However, the smell noticeably dissipates after a few days after installation.

Also, the smell of black rubber mulch doesn’t vary from other colored rubber mulch. 


Concerns about the rubber mulch smell may hold you back from installing it in your play area. However, it’s liberating to know you don’t need to be anxious about the smell anymore.  

Rubber mulch has a distinct synthetic smell that you’ll notice immediately post-purchase. The scent, however, usually disappears within three days, utmost. 

The rubbery scent shouldn’t dissuade from using rubber mulch. What’s more? The long-term benefits of rubber mulch outweigh the short-lived odor. 

Have you bought rubber mulch in the past? What’s your experience, does rubber mulch smell? Leave your answer in the comment section below.

Related Posts:
How To Get Rid Of Rubber Mulch
How to Put Down Rubber Mulch for Playground
Where Can I Buy Rubber Mulch Near Me?
All About Mulching + [The Ultimate Guide]

2 thoughts on “Does Rubber Mulch Smell?”

  1. I’ve had a section of rubber mulch in my garden bed for almost a month and I beg to differ on it not smelling from the heat. I live in Southern California and it’s sunny 360 days a year. I leave my back patio door open daily and since I’ve laid this mulch the whole house smells like rubber. I only notice this on days when it’s hotter. If the smell goes away, I’d like to know when as it’s been almost a month. I have been keeping my door closed now because I worry about VOCs for myself and my pets.

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