Brilliant Ways To Repurpose Ice Cube Trays In The House And Garden

Picture this: On a hot summer day, you're sitting outside and drinking a cold, refreshing glass of your favorite drink. As you gulp it down, you remember that you have the ice cube tray to thank for its humble part in the delicious experience. But did you know that the kitchen tool can be used for so much more than just freezing water? An ice cube tray's slim profile and numerous compartments make it a great item to repurpose for storage, organization, and decor. We have listed 12 ways you can reuse the ice maker around your home and garden below.

All of these hacks were completed with standard plastic ice trays with 12 to 16 wells, but those fancy molds that make decorative-shaped ice can work for some of the tricks, too. The number of wells won't impede the hack, so larger and smaller trays are fine. Some of these upcycles can also be done with metal and silicone trays. Whichever type of ice maker you're repurposing, ensure it is clean before using it around your house or garden. If it's dishwasher safe, run it through the appliance. Otherwise, hand washing with dish soap and water will suffice.

1. Store craft supplies

The ice tray's compartments are an ideal size for storing small craft supplies. Ribbons, beads, dowels, washi tape rolls, and other small items tuck away neatly into the wells. You can keep the handy craft storage on a shelf or in a basket. If your ice tray has a lid, you can also stack multiple to maximize space. If not, you can create a makeshift lid with a sheet of cardboard.

2. Use it as a mold

Not only can an ice cube maker store your craft supplies, but it can also become one. These kitchen tools double as the perfect tiny molds for shaping clay, making mini candles, curing cement, or forming paper mache cups. You can reuse them for a multitude of projects. Plus, the tray can still hold your ribbons or other supplies when it's not in use.

3. Create homemade paint palettes

For any crafting paint projects, bring the ice cube tray out. The compartments are perfect for housing various paints and watercolors. You can even drill holes in the middle of the plastic platter to hold paintbrushes. It not only works for crafts but also paint touch-ups when renovating or upcycling furniture. Plus, you can save any leftover paint by covering the tray in air-tight plastic wrap.

4. DIY a modern lantern

You can make a stylish lantern topper with a plastic ice tray, a clear chopping mat from Dollar Tree for $1.25, and a battery-powered LED light. Simply drill a small hole in the middle of each of the tray pockets and fold the tray into thirds. Then, cut the chopping mat to size before taping it to the top and side of the folded ice tray. It should form a dice with an open bottom. Next, turn on your LED bulb and place the homemade shade on top. It will diffuse the light and create a unique tabletop feature.

5. Craft a catchall dish

Another modern decoration you can craft with an ice cube tray is a catchall dish. You'll need a large container, cement, oil, and an ice tray. Just pour the mixed cement into the container, spray the bottom of the ice cube tray with oil, and press it into the cement. Once the concrete sets, remove the tray and your creation from the container. Now, you have a modern stone decor piece that is also functional for holding all your small items. 

6. Create a succulent art display

Plants and art are coming together for this next upcycling hack. We're adding faux succulents to the trays to create a plant art box. Glue the stems of any artificial plants into the ice compartments, stuffing as many as you can so it looks full. Decorate more than one ice tray for the best look. Then, finish the piece with a frame before securing it to the wall. This could be an ideal piece to place outdoors, perhaps on a patio wall.

7. Feed the birds

Your garden can benefit from an ice cube tray, too. The kitchen accessory makes a stellar DIY bird feeder. Simply fill it up with your local birds' favorite treats and leave the tray out for them to feast. You'll need some string or twine to turn it into a hanging feeder that's perfect to dangle in the trees or from a landscape stake. However, ensure to change out the feed regularly, as it could get wet and grow mold.

8. Start your seedlings

Another way you can use these ice makers to benefit your garden is to start your seedlings in them. The small cups provide enough space for your baby plants to sprout, and when they outgrow the container, you can transplant them into your garden. Just add drainage holes to the bottom of each cup before pouring the soil and planting the seeds. Ice trays even make a great base for a windowsill herb garden.

9. Preserve fresh herbs

On the other hand, if you already have an herb garden, you can use an ice tray to preserve your greenery. Chop your fresh herbs and add them to each slot. Then, cover the greens with oil or water and let them freeze. Once the cubes are frozen, transfer the herb blocks to a freezer-safe bag. Now, you can have homegrown herbs for months.

10. Make garbage disposal cleaning cubes

An easy way to clean your garbage disposal starts with an ice cube tray. Instead of freezing plain water to make your beverages cold, you can use the ice maker to create cleaning cubes. Add chopped lemon peels to each well, fill it with distilled white vinegar, and freeze. When your disposal gets funky, pop the homemade cleaning cubes down the shoot, let the tap run, and grind it up. The lemon and vinegar will take care of the smell.

11. Turn it into a jewelry box

Another way you can put an ice cube tray to good use is to turn it into a jewelry box. The slots can hold earrings, brooches, rings, and other small jewels. The trays will help keep your accessories sorted, so there are no more tangled necklaces. Plus, it doesn't take up a lot of space, and with a lid or piece of cardboard, you can stack the trays to create a large jewelry arsenal.

12. Organize inside your drawers

Your jewelry pile is just one of the many things an ice cube tray can neaten up. Your junk drawer is another. The tray acts as a storage compartment so all your paper clips, batteries, and rubber bands aren't jumbled together. You can fit multiple trays in one drawer and label them to maximize their function. Now, everything can be sorted and will be easily-accessible.