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How to Clean a Moldy Rice Cooker

If you forgot there was rice in your cooker and it’s now moldy, don’t panic! Here’s how to clean it up.

You hadn’t used the rice cooker in a while. Then you got the cravings for rice again. So you opened the rice cooker, and, what do you know, there’s rice in it! Not just any rice, though. Rice that’s so old, it’s moldy.

Not sure exactly how to clean the moldy rice off, you did what any rice cooker owner would do in your situation: You grabbed hold of your phone, googled the matter, and stopped by this page.

Welcome! And do read on. We’ll help you get rid of rice and make your cooker look new again.

Shake Out the Rice

We know this sounds obvious, but hear us out. Because if you do this the wrong way, you can damage the bowl on your rice cooker.

See, rice cooker bowls have a non-stick coating that keeps the rice from sticking. That coating is polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), like a non-stick frying pan. And if you use a metal fork or spoon to remove rice, it will scratch just as easily.

So don’t. Here’s what you should do instead:

Hold a garbage bag at the rice bowl’s opening. Now tilt the bowl upside down and shake out as much of the moldy rice as you can. Some of the rice will be stuck in the bowl. Use cleaning gloves to get rid of it (or cover your hand in another bag).

Clean Off the Mold

Now that you’ve gotten rid of the rice, it’s time to clean the mold off.

You need to sacrifice a scrub sponge (it doesn’t make a difference if the scrub sponge is new or used). You can try to sanitize it after use, but it’s better to just throw it away once you’re done with this step.

It goes like this: Wet a scrub sponge with hot water and dish soap and clean the mold from the rice cooker bowl with it. Use the soft, non-scratchy side of the sponge to avoid damaging the bowl’s non-stick coating.

Rinse the rice cooker bowl well under hot water, making the water as hot as your hands can handle. When you’re done rinsing, there must be no dish soap left in the bowl.

Sanitize the Rice Cooker Bowl

Let’s do a quick recap of where you are. First, you threw out the moldy rice in a garbage bag and scraped the remaining grains off with gloves. Then, you washed the bowl with soapy water and gave it a good rinse.

Now it’s time to sanitize it.

There’s a significant—and important—difference between cleaning and sanitizing. Cleaning removes rice and mold from the bowl. Sanitizing kills the bacteria and gets rid of the mold spores. Basically, it disinfects the bowl so you can continue to use it safely.

Prepare a sanitization solution of 1 tablespoon unscented bleach per 1 gallon / 3.8 liters of warm, but not hot, water. Working with gloves in the sink, apply the homemade sanitizer to the bowl’s interior and leave it on for 2–3 minutes.

Rinse the bowl thoroughly, then pat dry with a paper towel or dishcloth and air dry for 1 hour before putting it back in the rice cooker.

In Summary

Remembering you forgot rice in the cooker is… err, unpleasant. But it can—and, trust us, it does—happen to everyone.

Just follow the steps, and you’ll be fine: remove the rice, clean the mold, and sanitize the bowl. Next time you use your rice cooker and you’re tired or in a hurry, set a reminder on your phone.

Know your author

Written by

Dim is a food writer, cookbook author, and the editor of Home Cook World. His first book, Cooking Methods & Techniques, was published in 2022. He is a certified food handler with Level 1 and Level 2 Certificates in Food Hygiene and Safety for Catering, and a trained cook with a Level 3 Professional Chef Diploma.