Rubber is a durable and low-maintenance material that’s found in everything from bath toys to car mats. However, it can get dirty over time, so proper cleaning is important to ensure that your rubber products last as long as possible. Using caustic cleaners like bleach can cause rubber to degrade, but there are many effective and safe cleaners that will restore and protect your rubber items.
When you need to clean rubber, the first step is to sweep away any loose dirt or debris. This will prevent the cleaner from being absorbed into pores and cracks in the surface of the rubber, where it could degrade or damage it over time. Next, you can use a mild liquid detergent with water to remove any lingering dirt or grime from the surface of your rubber. Adding a little bit of baking soda to this solution can also help lighten discoloration from things such as oil spills or sweat.
Avoid scouring pads, steel wool sponges or other abrasive cleaning tools when you’re washing rubber. They may scrape or dent the surface of your rubber, causing it to break down faster than normal. Test any cleaner on an out-of-sight area of your rubber to make sure it doesn’t have a negative effect on the material.
If you have significant stains on your rubber, white vinegar or a mixture of dish detergent and water can usually remove them. This solution works well for things like rubber vehicle mats and shoe soles. Other significant stains, such as yellowing, may require the use of a chemical oxidizer, such as hydrogen peroxide or bleach, to completely change their color into colorless molecules on the surface of your rubber.