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I've tried to google for an answer, but it's hard because mold has two meanings and in this case I'm using both. Some dessert got left in a silicone mold (shaping device) in the back of the fridge, and when I discovered it the dessert had gotten moldy (fungal growth). I washed the silicone as well as I could with soap and water, but it's still discolored. Is it possible to clean it enough to be food safe or do I need to throw it away?

If it is possible to clean it, what is the best way?

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  • 3
    Is the discoloration caused by (possibly remaining) mold? Or is it an aftermath of removing the mold from the mold?
    – Clockwork
    Jul 30 at 20:14
  • 1
    I'm pretty sure it's from mold since there's still a bit of smell.
    – aslum
    Jul 31 at 6:52
  • Do you mean that you left some sand in the mold and that it got moldy? or did you mean to use the word "dessert"?
    – Nzall
    Aug 1 at 14:47

3 Answers 3

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If the mold (shaping device) is actually silicone rubber, you should be able to kill any mold (fungal growth) quite easily.

I use silicone bread pans that are rated to 450 °F / 232°C (correction, poor memory and I never use them this hot - 500 °F/ 250 °C) in the oven, and that will kill fungal growth (and any others) in a matter of minutes or less. You could also put it into a pressure cooker, if it will fit.

Now, I also have some sort of rubber ice cube trays that are not actually silicone, and I expect those would melt into a stinky puddle and/or catch fire.

You can also run it though the dishwasher on "sanitize" if you have a dishwasher and it has that cycle option. You might look for a marking on the shaping device indicating a safe temperature range or limit (often right next to the food-safe cup and fork icon marking.)

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    My worry would be that silicone hangs on to flavours quite well. So if the mould has left an unpleasant flavour behind it will still be detectable even once sterilised. I'd still clean it and use it, but not for anything special the first time.
    – Chris H
    Jul 29 at 17:12
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    Most flavor compounds are fairly volatile, so baking the empty mold at 450/232 for a while would get rid of the vast majority of those as well. Running through the dishwasher (if available,) soaking in hot water and baking soda, and/or other typical cleaning steps could be applied as well if desired. Color may not ever go back to what it was (my heavily used silicone bread pans are nearly black. My lightly used silicone muffin / roll pan is blue. As far as I recall they started more or less the same color blue, when new.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jul 30 at 17:27
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    Hopefully that's the case. I froze ginger&garlic puree in a silicone ice cube tray and couldn't get the smell out by dishwasher, covering with oil then using the dishwasher, boiling with detergent... I didn't try the oven as being meant for ice it had no maximum temperature listed
    – Chris H
    Jul 31 at 14:29
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Discoloration of silicone is common, and it isn't a safety issue. Silicone is porous, and so yours absorbed coloring, most likely from the dessert as it was left in there awhile. Cleaning it thoroughly may restore the original color, but if it doesn't it's still safe to use.

As for cleaning it just use good old soapy water, and as for the discoloration wiping some a small amount of baking soda paste (baking soda with just enough water to make a paste) and letting it sit for a few minutes before washing it out may restore the color. If it doesn't it's still usable, just maybe not that attractive.

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  • "Silicone is porous" reminds me of an answer I read somewhere about why tumblers still tasted of soap after thoroughly cleaning them with hot water, and the answer was because the soap was deep within the pore of the plastic. The solution to remove it was to use vinegar (although I don't think it works to get rid of the mold).
    – Clockwork
    Aug 1 at 14:10
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    Vinegar is a good option to get rid of flavors and smells from plastic and silicone @Clockwork, not so much discoloration.
    – GdD
    Aug 1 at 16:04
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Boil them in water!

10 minutes of boiling will do, unless you are at elevations not usually inhabitated.

This is THE method. The time-honored (used for thousands of years), traditional way to kill any microbial life. Works also for getting the smell out.

If the smell persists, a small amount of baking soda (~0.1%) in the boiling water may help.


How other possible methods may fail (they may as well work, but require more controlled process):

  • Chemicals (including, but not limited to, bleach, other chlorine-based disinfectants and alcohol) They may not penetrate deep enough into the material. Well, given time and shaking, they will eventually penetrate everywhere, but now you have the task to get them out. For glass, metal or porcelain the chemical disinfection is quite good, for soft and porous materials - not really.

  • Dry heating (in an oven) As we all know from our baking experience, the temperature over the whole container may vary a lot. On the other hand, when dry, some forms of the microbial life (e.g. spores) survive well above 100C. An oven with circulating air will perform better, but be sure to reach at least 200C for 10 minutes or more. Be also sure not to heat them above their rated temperature.

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    Without using a pressure cooker at 15PSI/1bar, this does not kill any microbial life, just some microbial life.
    – Ecnerwal
    Aug 1 at 13:16
  • Yes, heat transfer from liquid is more efficient than air.
    – beausmith
    Aug 2 at 21:20
  • It is not the heat transfer only. It is also the water that gets poisonous at these temperatures.
    – fraxinus
    Aug 3 at 9:38
  • @fraxinus what is your source for "water getting poisonous at these temperatures"? The only difference between tap water and water in a boiling pot is temperature, it is no more "poisonous" to microbes, just hotter.
    – Esther
    Aug 4 at 14:24

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