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How to Clean a Smelly Silicone Ice Tray

By Cook's Illustrated Published January 2019

Silicone ice trays make extracting ice easy, but over time they can pick up odors from the freezer, which can give ice an off-flavor. Here's a way to remove those odors from the tray.

Silicone ice trays make extracting ice easy, but they have one big downside: Over time, they pick up odors from the freezer, which can give the ice an off-flavor. Which is why we were interested to read in The New York Times about a method for removing odors: Bake the trays for an hour in a 350-degree oven. (Silicone can withstand temperatures of up to 500 degrees, so there is no risk of the trays melting.) Would the method also work on more-potent odors left by items such as pesto, chiles in adobo, or minced garlic in oil (all items we commonly freeze in small quantities in ice cube trays for later use)? 

To find out, we filled silicone ice trays with a paste of pureed onions, shallots, garlic, anchovies, and olive oil and refrigerated them overnight. When we emptied the trays and washed them the next morning, all still smelled strongly of the paste. We then baked them in a 350-degree oven for an hour. The trick worked beautifully, eliminating all odors. 

We also tried alternative deodorizing methods, such as soaking in a solution of baking soda or vinegar overnight or boiling in water for an hour, none of which removed the smell completely. 

Takeaway: Baking is a great method for removing even strong odors from ice trays. Just be sure your ice trays are silicone and not rubber, which will melt in a hot oven.