Hot Lemon Water Is A Godsend For Cleaning Silicone Baking Mats

A silicone baking mat has many advantages over its single-use counterpart: First and foremost, they are thicker which means that they have more insulation to protect delicate baked goods from the harsh heat of the oven, and anything that involves working with hot and syrupy ingredients like liquid sugar fares better on this heavy-duty nonstick surface. Moreover, a single silicone mat can be used 3,000 times before it starts looking worse for the wear, making it more eco-friendly and sustainable than use-and-throw parchment papers.

A silicone mat's reusability, however, can also be a great menace. The molecules present inside tend to expand under the heat of an oven and absorb the oils of foods that are cooked on them, including flavor and aroma. These oils are hard to get rid of with just soap and water alone, which may explain why your mat still smells suspiciously of the fish that you baked on it weeks ago! 

You'll need a more powerful cleaner in this case, which is where the multi-purpose hot lemon water comes in. Simply scrub the juice of two small lemons over the mat using the cut-up side of the fruit. Next, pour hot water over the mat and let it soak in the lemon water mix for 10 minutes. With just these few steps, you'll make a dirty silicone mat as good as new again.

Lemons are a cleaning powerhouse

Lemons truly are the go-to tool of the kitchen. A few spoons of lemon juice can stop fruits and vegetables from browning, tenderize meats and make them more succulent, stop cooked rice from turning into sticky clumps, and — believe it or not — tackle some of the nastiest messes in the kitchen, including dirty silicone baking mats. 

The eye-puckering sourness of a lemon comes from its citric acid, which, much like vinegar, makes the fruit an excellent cleaning agent. The acid present in lemon can remove stubborn stains, while its fresh scent can be used as a deodorizer. And, the citrus fruit can eliminate any oils left behind from baking food on silicone mats. Additionally, the lemon juice will also lighten stains as well as get rid of any funky smells that may be lingering.

While the lemon juice will do wonders, also adding the hot water soaking step is equally important because it helps expand the silicone molecules and opens them up to rid residue.

More ways to clean silicone baking mats

Another easy option to remove oil build-up, funky smells, and stains from your baking mat is to fill a container with hot water, squeeze a couple of lemons in it, and let the silicone mat soak in the hot lemon water mixture before you wash it as usual. If the mat still seems greasy, dust some baking soda on top and let it sit for a few minutes before you scrub the mat with a sponge. The only thing to be careful of when scrubbing is to use a non-abrasive material so that you don't cut or scratch the surface.

Because the key to cleaning a silicone baking mat is to heat the molecules present in it till they expand and release the food residue trapped inside, you could always just pop an empty mat into the oven at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour. Once the heat does its job, you should be able to wipe all the grime off with a simple soap and water wash. While this method does get rid of all stains, it may still leave some sticky oil residue. So, if you have a silicone mat that has both nasty stains and a build-up of oil, naturally cleaning with hot lemon water may be your best shot at getting rid of both eyesores in one go.