Cleaning

How to Clean those Slippery Silicone Mats, Once and For All

December 26, 2017

If I was allowed to bring only one kitchen tool to a desert island (assuming that desert island had ovens and sheet pans), it would probably be my trusty silicone mat (I use Silpat). I finally invested in one a few years ago, and ever since it has stood by me through countless nutty caramels and toffees, off-the-cuff granolas, and even a roasted fish or two, giving me confidence that I'll never have to deal with sticky, burned bits.

However, recently my Silpat has begun to look (and smell) a bit, well, funky. But silicone mats aren't super cheap, and I stubbornly refuse to invest in a new one. So, of course, I turned to our hotline to find out the best ways to clean a silicone mat to make it as fresh as the first day I used it. Here's what they said:

That Silpat is in need of a good clean. Photo by Julia Gartland

First, a bit of scientific background on why your silicon mats get funky with time:

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Silpats (and other silicone mats, duh) are made of silicone, which is why they're so nonstick. As they heat up in the oven, the silicone molecules expand, absorbing the oils (and, consequently, some residual flavors and fragrances) of whatever you're cooking. After they cool down, it's very difficult to remove the oils from the mat; that's why they can become covered in an unpleasant, oily sheen. Thankfully, we've got a few trusted cleaning methods that will have your silicone mat looking (and smelling) new:

  • Longtime community member MrVittles gave what the hotline voted as the best answer: Scrub your dirty silicone mat with a paste made of warm water and baking soda, let it sit for ten minutes, then rinse. Voila! Fresh and clean.

  • Food52 co-founder Amanda Hesser recommends soaking your silicone mat in hot water dosed with the juice of a few lemons to give it a deep refresh.

  • User passifloraedulis got scientific: Warm the silicon mat up in the oven first, so that the silicone molecules can expand and secrete the flavored, smelly oils. Then, while the mat is hot, immediately plunge it into a bath of warm water and white vinegar (or lemon juice). It should emerge smelling like new!

So next time you use your silicone mat to cook some oily (and delicious!) mackerel, don't forget to clean it right—you don't want your next batch of brittle tasting fishy.

A clean silpat, ready for the stickiest nut brittle. Photo by Bobbi Lin

How do you get rid of oily residue or lingering odors on your silicone mat? Share your cleaning tricks (or Silpat woes) in the comments!

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A kitchen scientist and dog-lover. Someday I want to have you over for dinner.

25 Comments

Randi C. May 13, 2019
I have tried dishwasher, baking soda, boiling water, Dawn dish soap & degreasers on my silicone baking mats and they just would not let go of this greasy film! I read this blog and several others and didn't find any suggestions that differed from what I had previously tried.
Then I had a thought, how about dish soap and Bar Keepers Friend Powdered Cleanser?
IT WORKED!!!! It is available at most grocery & hardware stores. I have it in my home at all times as it is a gem on cookware. Not sure why it took me so long to try but sure glad I did!
 
Chris B. March 4, 2019
Does anybody else have a problem with their silpats holding on to a soapy taste after cleaning? Any suggestions?
 
Bill March 4, 2019
I know this will sound insane but we have a front loading washing machine and I just throw them into the wash with the towels.
Come out clean every time and I've been using the same mats regularly for over 4 years.
 
Bonniejane S. March 1, 2019
I have been washing my silpats in the dishwasher for ages, no problems noted to date .
 
tastysweet March 2, 2019
Top or bottom?
 
Bonniejane S. March 3, 2019
standing between the cookie sheets on the bottom
 
tastysweet March 3, 2019
Thanks.
 
CWL March 1, 2019
Only way to clean silpat & other silicone kitchen items (like ice cube trays) so they are odor free & non-greasy is to bake them in the oven at 350+ for 20 minutes. This oxidizes the funky oils and removes any lingering odors. Works better & easier than soaks & scrubs or dishwasher.
 
Susan March 1, 2019
Dishwasher. Works perfectly! Every time .
 
Bill December 30, 2018
We have a front loading washer. I just throw them into the wash in a hot water cycle with the kitchen towels and they come out grease & order free. Haven’t damaged one yet.
 
Liz A. May 24, 2019
Ok Bill, I'm about to try it with my two brown mats... I'll let you know how I go. 😊
 
ButterYum December 17, 2018
I clean have a number of silpats and use them almost daily. I cook everything from cookies to shrimp on them and I've never had a problem with odors. I usually clean them with a soapy washcloth followed by a rinse, but when they start to get too oily, I put them right in the dishwasher. I simply fold them over the times like an upside down taco shell. It works like a charm.
 
[email protected] December 16, 2018
I have occasionally put them in the dishwasher. That is probably immoral and shortens its’ life but it works.
 
Dina S. December 16, 2018
Can I try this on a silicone bundt mold? I’ve not used it since over time it started to feel sticky & it’s as if it’s “sweating” sticky stuff.... i feel weird using it even if I wash it. I think this is how silicone molds get over time 🙁 is it still safe to use? Would a vinegar bath save it?
 
Christine S. January 2, 2018
Sounds like an option for silicone baking molds and pans, too.
 
Jess December 27, 2017
Has anyone been successful using similar cleaning methods on silicone ice cube trays? Despite only being used to freeze ice, the trays now make ice cubes that taste like plastic.
 
ButterYum December 17, 2018
You may have a silicone ice cube tray that contains plastic fillers. There's a test you can do to determine if it has filler or not. Fold over the corner of the piece and begin to pinch it where the fold is (being careful not to crease the item). If you see a white stress mark along the fold, it contains fillers. A lot of the rainbow colored silicone pieces I've tested contain plastic fillers. I hope that helps!
 
sarahepardee December 27, 2017
Thank you for for the tips, I can’t wait to do this! I’ve owned my silicone mats for years (6? 8?) and they smell heavily of cookies, in a bad way (if that’s possible...) so I’ve mostly stopped using them and am doing parchment only. I can’t wait to try these tips and hope to restore them!
 
Jonna B. December 27, 2017
I recently used the vinegar method after baking Springerle on mine, so everything after that wouldn’t be Anise flavored. It worked great.
 
jan December 27, 2017
Thank You😁😃☺
 
Peyton B. December 27, 2017
While I have no desire to have snapper scented snicker doodles, I seem to recall the silpat manufacturers advice that they're supposed to be slightly slimy feeling, it's kind of the nonstick point. Perhaps I'm just lazy about getting out the baking powder or lemons but I just use the leading grease cutting dishwashing stuff. My issue is washing and properly drying a non ridged thin piece of silicone, what a pain!
 
Daniel T. February 20, 2018
I'll match your laziness with mine. Once I finish washing it, I put it in the oven wet or pat dry a little! A slightly warm oven takes care of the rest!
 
Liz A. May 24, 2019
After washing and drying, roll in up in a bath towel to absorb last bits of moisture.
 
Tracy A. December 27, 2017
Well, I put mine in the dishwasher. Perhaps I shouldn’t! It comes out squeaky clean however!
 
Ann P. December 27, 2017
I also put mine in the dishwasher, and so far it has retained its original "slick" feel.