How to clean an ice cube tray for your best drinks ever

Stay chilled with our guide to cleaning ice cube trays

Green ice cube trays on blue background
(Image credit: Future)

Maybe the reason none of us know how to clean an ice cube tray is that most people hardly ever do it! One of the most essential products in your kitchen is one that is probably overlooked in your cleaning routine. 

For those of you who are lucky enough to have a built-in refrigerator ice maker, you may only use an ice cube tray for specialty cubes, like a round cube for whiskey drinks or frozen fruit cubes to enhance a summer cocktail. Whatever you’re using your ice cube tray for, it’s crucial that you remember to clean it.

Even when just using it for everyday ice, your best ice cube trays are exposed to so many types of foods inside your freezer. This means that it’s not unusual for food residue or odors to seep into the tray. To help you keep your tray clean for any and all occasions, we put together this handy guide. 

Good to know

Time: 10-60 minutes 

Difficulty: Easy

Helpful hints: Sterilizing a silicone ice cube tray is different than cleaning it. Find out why in the FAQ section below. 

Here’s what you’ll need

How to clean an ice cube tray

 Step 1: Rinse your tray

After disposing of any remaining ice cubes or large chunks, rinse your tray under warm water to remove any residue. 

 Step 2: Add baking soda 

Combine two teaspoons of baking soda with half a cup of warm water in a mixing bowl.

 Step 3: Scrub thoroughly 

Using the solution created in step two, use a cloth, toothbrush, or any other dishwashing tool to scrub each section of your ice cube tray. 

Tip: A toothbrush is a useful tool when cleaning smaller trays to get into the tight corners. Just make sure that you use the toothbrush only for cleaning purposes after.

If you have a larger tray or a circular tray, a clean washcloth or cleaning cloth will work just fine. 

 Step 4: Rinse well

After each section has been cleaned with the baking soda solution, rinse the tray off with warm water. Make sure all of the solution is rinsed off well before refilling your ice cube tray. 

 Step 5: Refill the trays

The great part about cleaning an ice cube tray is that it doesn’t require a lengthy drying time. Once cleaned and rinsed off, gently pat the outside of the tray dry with a clean dish towel. Then, feel free to refill your ice cube tray back up with water and place it back into the freezer. 

If you are dealing with pesky smells or lingering odors, see the FAQ section below on how to sterilize specific types of trays. 


How can I sterilize silicone ice cube trays?

To sterilize a silicone ice cube tray, bake it in an oven at 350°F for one hour. This will help remove any strong or lingering odors from your tray. 

Note: This is for silicone ice cube trays only, not rubber trays. 

How often do I need to clean ice cube trays?

If you’re just using an ice cube tray to make ice (with water only), you should be fine to give it a deep clean once a month or so. If you’re using your ice cube trays to create frozen smoothies or other food-related cubes, we recommend cleaning it right after use. 

While you may not have thought to wash your ice cube trays, you'll have to put those cleaning supplies to work, ASAP. While you're at it, have a look around the kitchen for any small odds and ends, like your coffee maker filter or toaster crumb tray, to clean too.

Kara Thompson

About me: 

Kara Thompson is a Denver-based journalist with over five years of experience writing lifestyle content. She has written for a variety of publications, including,,, and Parents, where she covered all things home, food, fashion, travel, and holidays. During her time on staff at Parents, Kara launched her own home decor and organization column named Save My Space. In 2022, she left her full-time job as an editor and started her own writing, editing, and social media firm, Kara Thompson and Co.

Tennis, New York City, bourbon cocktails, and her sister's German Shepherd are a few of her favorite things.