How to remove the overpowering rubber smell from solid tires on handcart
September 7, 2014 8:42 AM   Subscribe

I recently bought a preowned hand truck with fairly new solid tires. The smell is incredibly strong and considerably more offensive than the smell of, say, the showroom of a tire shop with doors to the work area wide open. In addition to the smell of rubber there is an intensely rancid odor. It's both disgusting and pervasive. A week after bringing the hand truck home my car smells like it's still in there. Eww. Any ideas? Thanks!
posted by carriest to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like the tires are offgassing and you're smelling that (which you figured out). Heat accelerates the process, so you might try storing the hand truck outside / in the sun, at least to the point where the tires aren't actively reeking anymore.
posted by Chutzler at 9:23 AM on September 7, 2014

In addition to the smell of rubber there is an intensely rancid odor.

Lots of oils and other non-polar solvents will penetrate and degrade rubber, particularly natural rubber, and the rancid odor suggests a food oil, but I don't see how to rule out the possibility of a potentially dangerous industrial chemical.

I think you should find some new wheels or get rid of it.
posted by jamjam at 10:11 AM on September 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you're trying to get the odor out of your car, try leaving a bowl of white vinegar in the closed car overnight. As far as de-stinking the tires themselves, a nice scrub with a mix of vinegar and Murphy's Oil Soap should help.
posted by mdrew at 11:14 AM on September 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Leave it out in the sun and buy another cheap used one. This is not normal. I've had lots of handtrucks, and my work has plenty that have both shown up new and been around all sorts of oils and things for a while. None of the ones i've had stink like this.

Something weird got on the tires and is causing them to degrade and offgas.
posted by emptythought at 11:59 AM on September 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

It could be that you have tires from China or somewhere else where they're made out of recycled materials and who knows what else. Site asking for a law. One of many discussion threads.

The rancid smell may be from vinegar or some other oil applied to mask or remove the original VOC odors.

I would try to store it outside and in the sun, if possible, to accelerate any volatile offgassing, but if that doesn't do it, I'd think about replacing the tires (it's a standard item, and well within DIY range).
posted by dhartung at 1:43 PM on September 7, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks everybody – I'm going to give the Murphy's oil soap and vinegar scrub a try, shielded by protective gloves, and will certainly use the bowl of vinegar approach to deodorizing my car.

I think everybody who mentioned an oil interaction is probably spot on - that definitely makes sense of the rancid part of the smell. If Murphy & vinegar don't make an appreciable difference I will proceed with replacing the wretched tires. Again, many thanks!
posted by carriest at 7:06 PM on September 7, 2014

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