When Mold Strikes: How To Clean and Sanitize A Rice Cooker

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Molds in rice cooker with plastic ladle inside with a text "mold in rice cooker"

Maybe your day got extra busy, or an emergency called you away after cooking rice in your rice cooker. You return to your rice cooker a day or two later and discover it’s full of mold. How should you clean your rice cooker so it’s safe to use again?

To address mold in your rice cooker, clean all parts with hot, soapy water. Then, sanitize your rice cooker with a bleach solution. Sanitizing your rice cooker removes all mold spores and bacteria, leaving it safe to use again. 

Can I Use My Rice Cooker After It Had Mold?

You can use your rice cooker even after it gets moldy – just clean it first! Throw away all moldy food, and then thoroughly clean all the parts of your rice cooker. Finally, sanitize your rice cooker with a bleach solution so it’s safe to use again. 

How To Clean Your Rice Cooker

Clean your rice cooker as soon as possible after you discover mold. The longer you let moldy food or bacteria sit in your rice cooker, the harder it will be to clean. 

Dump Out Any Moldy Food

Take the inner pot to your trash can and dump the food out. Then, take a rubber spatula and scrape out any food stuck to the surfaces of your pot. The inner pot of your cooker is likely coated in Teflon, making it no stick. Ensure you use a plastic or rubber utensil instead of metal to avoid scratching the non-stick coating. 

To avoid contaminating your utensils, use your hand to scrape out the moldy rice. Use a rubber glove or wrap your hand in a plastic bag to be extra safe when cleaning a moldy appliance. Remember to sterilize any utensils you’ve used to scrape out your moldy rice cooker and wash your hands thoroughly afterward. 

Wash Your Cooker 

Grab a sponge, some dish soap, and hot water. Rub down the surfaces of your inner pot, lid insert, and any utensils you used to clean out your cooker. Rinse these items thoroughly in hot water–make the water as hot as possible. 

Rice cooker accessories in the sink with soapy bubbles with a logo of Fooducopia on the lower right side of the image.

After you’ve cleaned everything, throw your sponge away. You can sanitize your sponge in the dishwasher or microwave, but I don’t think it’s worth it. Sponges are cheap, and I don’t want to risk contaminating my kitchen with a moldy sponge.  

Now you’ve cleaned your rice cooker. However, washing with soap and water is insufficient when dealing with mold. Next, you need to sanitize the parts of your cooker so it’s safe to use again. 

How To Sanitize Your Rice Cooker

Why sanitize? Sanitizing is different than cleaning. Cleaning removes old rice and mold from your pot. Sanitizing kills bacteria and mold spores, preventing more mold from growing in your rice cooker and potentially making you sick. 

Cleaner in white bottle, blue top, on orange backdrop.

Prepare Your Solution

Begin by stopping up your kitchen sink so that it will retain water. If your sink cannot hold water, use a large bin big enough to fit your entire rice cooker. To prepare a sanitizing solution, add 1 gallon (16 cups) of warm water to your sink or bin. Stir in 1 tablespoon of bleach. When I work with bleach, I always wear rubber gloves and old clothes. I also wear safety goggles in case the bleach solution splashes. 


Place your inner pot into the sink. Ensure you completely submerge the outside and inside of your internal pot in the water and bleach solution. Let it soak for at least 2 minutes. Rinse the pot thoroughly in warm water and set it on your dish rack to air dry. 

Repeat this step for the inner lid, rubber spatula, and any other parts that came in contact with mold. Never place your rice cooker directly in water, which will damage the heating element. Also, ensure all the parts of your cooker are thoroughly dry before you put them back in the outer cooker. 

Rice cooker with wipe yellow green cloth on top with a logo of Fooducopia on the lower right side of the image.

Finally, dip a cloth in the bleach solution and ring it out. Wipe the inside of your external cooker with the rag. Then, dry it with a paper towel. Once you’ve cleaned and sanitized your cooker, it’s safe to use again. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Does My Rice Cooker Have Mold?

Mold thrives in warm, moist environments. Your rice cooker contains the perfect environment of steam and heat that creates mold. If you leave food in your cooker overnight, mold may begin to grow. 

I’ve Cleaned And Sanitized My Rice Cooker. Why Does It Still Smell Like Mold?

Some mold spores may have gotten trapped in the air vent of your cooker. If so, clean your cooker like this: 

  1. Add 3 cups of water and 1 cup of distilled white vinegar to your rice cooker. 
  2. Set the unit to steam and close the lid. 
  3. Wait for the rice cooker to come to a boil. Stop the cycle once you hear it boiling, and let your machine cool. 
  4. Rinse all inner parts with warm water and let them air dry. 

After cleaning it this way, the first pot of rice you cook in your machine may taste like vinegar. If so, toss it out and cook a new batch. 

What Happens If You Eat Moldy Rice?

If you eat moldy rice, you may get food poisoning. Signs of food poisoning include: 

  • Diahrrea
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting

Signs of food poisoning can appear up to 16 hours after eating moldy rice. Stay hydrated and contact your doctor if the above symptoms last longer than 24 hours. 

How Do I Know If My Rice Cooker Has Mold?

Rice mold appears as fuzzy spots or clumps on your cooked rice. If mold sits too long, it can take over your cooked rice and rice cooker pot. Rice mold can be:

  • Black
  • Green
  • White

If your cooked rice has any mold spots, throw it away immediately. 

Different Types of Rice Mold

Black Mold (Rhizopus Stolonifera)

Black mold is the most dangerous of all molds. Black mold can make you sick or lead to even more severe health problems.  

Green Mold

Green mold is common and appears as a fuzzy spot with a dark green color. Sometimes, green mold looks more like a powder. 

White Mold (Aspergillus, Cladosporium, Penicillium)

This subset of mold always appears in shades of white or gray. White mold loves moisture and multiplies rapidly in warm, moist environments. 

Final Thoughts

If you’ve accidentally left your rice cooker too long and found mold, clean and sanitize it. Then it’s safe to use again. Avoid consuming moldy rice, as doing so can cause severe side effects. 

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