Why Your Ice Smells Like Garlic + 10 Proven Fixes

Flavored ice that features refreshing tangs of mint or a citrus twist can elevate an ordinary iced drink into something extra special.

However, some flavors should never be served in ice cube form and garlic is high on that list!!!

It’s actually pretty common to discover that your ice cubes smell slightly garlicky even if you have never stored garlic in the freezer. But why exactly does this happen and how can you stop your ice from tasting like garlic?

Ice can often smell like garlic because garlic molecules from the air get absorbed by the water or ice cube trays – imparting the flavor into your ice. Most fridge/freezers use a single evaporator which means garlic odors from the fridge get circulated into the freezer and make their way into your ice.

To avoid this happening clean your ice cube trays and fridge well and always store garlicky food in airtight containers so they can’t get into the air in your fridge and find their way into your ice.

I’ve looked into this rather smelly problem and discovered that it is possible to enjoy garlic in your food and still have deliciously refreshing ice cubes. With some simple steps you can quickly stop your ice cubes from tasting like garlic and get fresh and delicious ice cubes all the time.

Why Does Your Ice Smell and Taste Like Garlic?

Whether you love garlic or hate it, it is a widely used ingredient that has an impressive array of health benefits. While many people love the strong taste and add it to just about everything, having the essence of garlic clinging to one’s ice cubes would test even the biggest garlic fan.

The truth is that any strong flavors or smells present in the freezer or on the ice trays can get absorbed by ice. Garlic is not the only smelly culprit but it is often a standout because it has an intense smell that is easily identifiable and it seems to get absorbed into ice easier than some other smells/flavors

There are four main causes why ice inside the freezer can acquire a garlicky taste or smell:

1. Single Evaporator Refrigerator

Unless you specifically invested in a double evaporator refrigerator, chances are good that you have a single evaporator model.

This means that the fresh food cooling section where you have stored the delicious leftover garlicky cheese pizza shares the same air as the inside of your freezer where your ice cube trays are stored. 

The cold air inside the freezer section and the rest of the fridge blow around between the two areas.

Everyone knows that garlic odor can even cling to clothes if you work with it for too long while cooking, and the same is true for the water your ice cubes are made out of.

Similarly, the lingering reek of garlic can permeate the ice cube molds or even the side of your freezer. Silicone ice cube trays tend to taste bad after a while from the odors in your freezer if you don’t wash them properly to remove the smells.

2. Improperly Stored Garlic or Garlicky Food

Incorrectly storing garlic allows a slow and continuous flow of odor to permeate every nook and cranny of your refrigerator and its contents. 

Loose garlic in any part of the fridge or freezer is a recipe for bitter ice cubes. If you choose the convenience of a jar of minced garlic, always ensure that the lid is tightly sealed and there are no dribbles of garlic juice down the side of the bottle after using a scoop. 

Garlic is delicious in food but must be kept entirely closed and separate from everything else while it is being stored.

Containers containing garlic should be airtight. Tightly sealed glass jars also work well inside the fresh food section. 

3. Ice Cubes Trays Have Been Exposed To Garlic

If your ice cubes have a slight hint of garlic, your freezer may be totally innocent. The problem may result from the actual ice trays being infused with a garlic tang.

Each time you add fresh water to the tray to make ice, the garlicky flavor will seep into the ice creating the unappetizing ice result. 

While both plastic and silicone ice trays absorb smells and flavors, the soft porous texture of silicone makes them far more likely to pick and hang onto tastes and odors. Garlic can get into ice trays in a couple of ways. 

Some people store small individual portions of food in ice trays. Other times you may inadvertently pop your ice cube tray into the dishwasher along with a heavily garlic-flavored dish.

While solid items like plates and cutlery will shrug off the odor, your ice cube trays may absorb a bit of the garlicky smell. 

4. The Refrigerator Needs A Clean

Unfortunately, once a garlic smell is loose inside your refrigerator, it will likely permeate the inside of the walls and shelves. Even if you remove the source of the odor and store it in an airtight container, the aroma will continue to hang around. 

This situation can be remedied by cleaning your entire refrigerator thoroughly and wiping down the compartment walls and shelves. Freshen and sanitize everything using a solution of baking soda, vinegar, and dishwashing liquid to remove all lingering odors. 

Are Ice Cubes That Taste Like Garlic Safe To Eat?

It is entirely safe to consume ice cubes that have a slight garlicky infused taste or smell, but it is not recommended. Garlic will change the beverage’s taste and may add a bitter tang. 

According to Science World, our sense of smell contributes up to 80% of how we taste things. So even if the ice is only a slight odor on the ice, it is going to affect how your drink tastes. 

10 Ways To Get Rid Of Garlic Smell In Ice

Now that we have covered why your ice may taste like garlic let’s go through some ways to eradicate the smell and ensure that you can avoid this smelly freezer catastrophe from ever happening again!

1. Discard Old Ice and Make a Fresh Batch

Remove all the ice cube trays from your freezer and throw out the contents. The longer your ice is in the freezer the more time it has to absorb bad smells.

If one batch has a garlicky taste then don’t trust any of the others – even if they are on a different shelf or in a different tray.

Start with a clean slate and make fresh ice.

2. Bake Away The Garlic Smell From Silicone Ice Cube Trays

If you have 100% silicone ice cube trays or metal ice cube trays, read on. If you don’t, skip to the next suggestion, as baking anything else in the oven would be hazardous.

Silicone is an amazing substance that is incredibly temperature resilient. Ice cube trays can double as baking trays and vice versa, but silicone also tends to pick up and harbor odors more than plastic. 

Getting the smell out of silicone items (whether it’s baking trays or ice cube trays) can be as simple as baking them in the oven.

No scrubbing, no fuss, and the odor will be gone.

3. Clean Your Ice Cube Trays or Ice Cube Maker

To create fresh-tasting ice, it is essential that your ice cube trays or maker are entirely free of lingering flavors.

Baking soda and warm water is usually enough to clean tastes and smells out of plastic or metal ice cube trays. Silicone can be a little more challenging to get entirely sanitized. 

Although silicone hangs on to smells, there are also plenty of ways to clean your silicone ice cube trays so they don’t impart odors or flavors into your ice. One of the best methods to get garlic off silicone ice cube trays is to soak them in a vinegar solution. 

4. Use An Ice Cube Tray With A Handy Lid

If you frequently store leftovers in your fridge it’s a good idea to protect the ice cubes in the freezer from collecting garlic odor by giving them their own shield!

Opt for an ice cube tray with a lid, so your ice stays fresh inside a sealed tray. Check out our list of the best ice cube trays with lids.

These will keep out the odors in the air in your freezer and they also have the added benefit of being stackable and much less likely to spill.

5. Store Ice Cubes In A Bag Or Airtight Container 

If you want to use your existing ice cube trays and they don’t have lids then once the ice is made keep the ice inside an airtight container or a ziplock bag.

This is one of the best ways to store ice in the freezer long term because it’ll stop it absorbing smells (including garlic) and it can also stop the ice from sticking together.

When storing my clear ice balls in my freezer I use a tupperware container so the ice spheres are hardly touching. But for regular ice I just use a ziplock bag.

6. Filter Your Water

Perhaps the slight scent in your ice isn’t caused by the freezer or the ice tray. It may be that the water you are using to refill the ice trays each time has a lingering essence clinging to it.

To avoid any unexpected flavors, tangs or smells in your next batch of ice, try filtering your water. 

Water contains plenty of minerals and although these are usually invisible, if you have silicone ice cube trays then you may have noticed a white residue developing from the dissolved salts.

Fortunately, these are not harmful and it can be cleaned off but they can make your ice taste bad. Filter your water or look into getting a water softening system if you live in an area with hard water.

7. Place a Smell Absorbent In Your Freezer

Fridge Odor Absorber: The Premium, Naturally Air Purifying, Absorbent Odor Eliminator and Deodorizer for your Refrigerator. 3X More Powerful and Effective Freshener than Baking Soda (case of 8 units)

Popping a box of baking soda inside your fridge’s fresh food and freezer compartments will significantly reduce any odors floating about.

Baking soda is a natural element that is highly effective at absorbing odors and moisture. 

If you want to take it up a notch, some fridge and freezer odor-absorbing products are specifically formulated to kick back against strong food smells like garlic, fish, or onions. 

Santa Barbara Fridge Odor Absorber – this product claims to be 3 x more effective at absorbing odors than baking soda and comes in a convenient plastic container with vents. 

Chill Bill Refrigerator Deodorizer – Having a clumsy-looking box of baking soda in your refrigerator may not be the most attractive option to absorb smells. Enter Chill Bill! Add baking soda to this cute penguin and smile each time you open the fridge your fridge. 

8. Clean Your Refrigerator/Freezer

Once garlic odor has permeated your fridge or freezer, the only sure way to eliminate it is by defrosting and giving it a good clean.

Wipe down all the walls and wash the shelves using an odor-eliminating solution that includes white vinegar baking soda.

Adding a squeeze of fresh lemon will add a fresh citrusy scent. 

9. Get A Fridge And Freezer With Dual Evaporators

Throwing out your current refrigerator because a tray of ice blocks smells like garlic probably isn’t a sensible option but it is something to keep in mind next time you buy a fridge.

Dual evaporator models are typically more expensive but the air in the fresh food section and the freezer stay completely separate.

Ice cubes will stay fresh no matter how much fresh garlic is stored in the fridge section. 

10. Don’t Use Silicone Ice Cube Trays

Silicone ice cube trays absorb odors and taste more than plastic ones.

However, even plastic lags against metal ice cube trays when it comes to delivering consistently fresh batches of ice.

If garlic-tasting ice is something that you are struggling to get on top of it may be worth considering investing in a classic style metal ice cube tray