My Rice Cooker Smells Bad: Tips and Tricks to Fix It 

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Opened rice cooker and a man covering his nose with a text "rice cooker smells" bad

Rice cookers are lovely appliances. They make cooking rice foolproof. However, after repeated use, some develop a smell. Read on to learn how to treat and prevent odors in your rice cooker.

Rice cookers smell because leftover residue starts to ferment. Water and dish soap may not be strong enough to eliminate the bacteria causing the smell. If so, you’ll need to sanitize the inner parts of your rice cooker. 

Rice cooker and it's accessories in a wooden board with a logo of Fooducopia on the lower right side of the image.

Why Does My Rice Cooker Smell?

There are two main reasons your rice cooker might smell. 

1. You accidentally left some grains of rice behind after using it. When rice grains have prolonged contact with air, they ferment and attract bacteria. If these grains stay in your rice cooker long enough, they will mold. Ensure you thoroughly inspect your rice cooker after washing it so you don’t leave any grains behind.

2. Some of the starchy residues remained after washing. Rice leaves behind a sticky residue. Even if you wash it, some residue may remain. This starch attracts bacteria, and we can detect the bacteria by smell. 

Other Reasons Your Cooker Might Smell

  1. Rice emits an odor while cooking. It smells ‘nutty’ or like beans when it boils. This smell is typical, and it shouldn’t worry you. 
  2. You add dry rice right into the rice cooker. Rice releases starch as it cooks. Rinsing your rice helps wash away some of the starch. The more starch on the grains, the more your rice will foam and bubble, producing a smell. 
  3. The way you store your rice cooker. Keeping your rice cooker closed while not using it could lead to lingering smells. 

3 Ways to Prevent a Rice Cooker From Smelling

Now that we have discussed the reasons your rice cooker might have some odor, here are three ways to prevent your rice cooker from smelling in the first place.

Rinse and Drain Your Rice Several Times Before Cooking 

I use a metal strainer to rinse my rice. I hold it under the faucet and move the rice around with my hands to wash all the grains. I let the water run and shift the rice around, counting to 30. This way, I remove as much starch as possible before cooking. Make surrey you use a fine mesh strainer so tiny rice grains won’t slip through.

Clean Your Rice Cooker As Soon As Possible After Use

Before cleaning my rice cooker, I ensure the inner pot and inner sealing ring are cool to the touch. Then, I clean the internal parts of my rice cooker in hot, soapy water. I aim to do this before I eat. If not, I clean it right after my meal. Cleaning your rice cooker soon after use is essential to preventing odor buildup. It allows you to remove rice grains and starch before they can harden and stick to the cooker. 

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

Thoroughly Dry Your Rice Cooker Before You Put It Away

I leave my rice cooker open overnight after I’ve cleaned it out. I also leave the inner parts to air dry overnight in my dishrack. With this method, I can ensure all the parts are dry before storing them. I do not store my rice cooker with the lid on it either, but beside it instead.

How Do I Get the Smell Out of My Rice Cooker

Maybe you’ve followed all the steps above, but your rice cooker still has an odor. The best way to get the smell out of your rice cooker is to sanitize it. You must sanitize it if you’ve already washed all inner parts with hot, soapy water, and the scent lingers. Check your instruction booklet for any specific steps your model may require. Otherwise, use the sanitizing method below.

How To Clean and Sanitize a Rice Cooker

Before cleaning your rice cooker, ensure all parts have cooled to room temperature. Then, follow these steps:

  1. Remove all the parts, including the inner pot and the inner lid. If your rice cooker has a removable gasket or water collector, remove those as well. You can also clean the spatula at the same time. 
  2. Stop up your kitchen sink and begin filling it with water. Add two tablespoons of bleach and two tablespoons of dish detergent to your sink. 
  3. Fill your sink with warm water. Use enough water to submerge all the rice cooker’s parts. 
  4. Soak the parts of your rice cooker for up to two hours. Then, scrub them with a soft sponge. 
  5. Rinse them well under hot water and allow them to air dry. Use a clean cloth to dry all parts before returning them to your rice cooker.

No smell should remain once you’ve sanitized your rice cooker with the steps above. Make sure you:

  • Never wash any utensils or other metal kitchen items in your inner pot.
  • Do not use an abrasive sponge to clean the parts of your rice cooker. 

You may damage the non-stick coating if you do either of the above. Then, your rice cooker will no longer be safe to use.

How to Clean the Outer Parts of Your Rice Cooker

Wet a damp rag and ring it out to clean the outer parts of your rice cooker. Carefully wipe the inner and outer sections of your rice cooker. Gently remove stuck-on food. Make sure you don’t get water inside the unit. Water covering the bottom of your cooker can damage the heating element.

Rice cooker, a galloon of white vinegar, spray bottle, green cloth and scoop with a logo of Fooducopia on the lower right side of the image.

If the outer parts of your cooker smell, create a cleaning spray with white vinegar. Add one tablespoon of vinegar to a spray bottle and fill it with water. Spray the mixture on a clean cloth and wipe the inside and outside of your rice cooker. Don’t spray the control panel or the heating element directly, as this could damage them. 

Person's hand wiping the rice cooker with green cloth with a logo of Fooducopia on the lower right side of the image.

Final Thoughts

Clean your rice cooker soon after using it. Stop smells before they start with a bit of regular maintenance. 

Finally, store your rice cooker with the lid gently propped open. I keep mine so that some air can circulate through the rice cooker. I’ve used my rice cooker many times without any odor problems. 

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