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When Mold Attacks Your Rice Cooker

It’d been one of those busy weeks in the Wold family. Between work and school, Joslyn and I hadn’t had much time to clean up our kitchen. The small gang of fruit flies looking a little too much at home in our kitchen was a sure sign that it was time to clean.

We went through a bunch of dishes and made excellent progress. Down near the end of the line, I reached for another dish and stopped immediately as my nose caught a strong wift of unpleasantness. I looked through the dishes, trying to figure out what it was. Then I saw it.

The Rice Cooker.

Some good friends of ours had given us a beautiful rice cooker as a wedding gift and it had served us well. 15-20 minutes and fresh, perfectly cooked rice is served.

The past weekend, Joslyn had cooked rice to take on a Church outing and we’d forgotten to empty the leftovers when we returned home.

Our beautiful rice cooker was in trouble. As I opened the container my gag reflex kicked in and I braced myself to help dinner stay down. 

It stank bad.

Here are some photos of the mold for your viewing pleasure. To ensure safety (and because of technical limitations), the smell has not been added.

Naturally, we weren’t about to lose such a nice rice cooker. We took the following action:

  1. Initial Cleaning – After washing the rice down the drain (thank you, insink disposal), soap and water took up a thorough attack, cleaning the rice cooker well, inside and out.
     
  2. Secondary Cleaning – For good measure, I went at it with soap and water again, noticing that the smell was still lingering around.
     
  3. Smell Elimination – I took a bottle of “Veggie Wash” (an organic mix, made up of citrus and coconut extracts) and sprayed the container generously. The citrus kicks in almost immediately and, in addition to helping with the smell, sends the citrusy goodness to fight any last lingering bacteria.

    Tip: You can pick up a fruit & veggie wash at your local grocery store in the produce section. A fresh lemon, cut, squeezed, and rubbed over the affected areas would do the job as well.

And voila! Our rice cooker is back.

Another fight against mold (albeit a small one) successfully won.

Jonathan Wold
MoldBlogger.com

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21 thoughts on “When Mold Attacks Your Rice Cooker

  1. I can’t believe I found this story! The ‘inter-blogs’ are just amazing!

    I purchased a cooker for my teenage son, who loves rice. Recently, when we ran out of rice, he left a bit in the cooker, and we had the same result. The smell was just horrible, and would not go away.

    I was able to eliminate most of the smell by putting a few cups of baking soda in the bowl for a week or so.

    However, when I read your post I have followed up with the cleaner to kill any bacteria as well.

    Thanks for your info!

  2. that’s nothing… i recently had a rice cooker problem… the inside of it was almost completely covered in green and white fuzz.

    anyhoo, putting it in a garbage disposal is pretty awful advice IMO, because then the spores go flying all over the place. you have to contain mold. throw it in the trash and take it out immediately. if the problem is really bad, then bleach pot. bleach the steam valve thing on top of the rice cooker (i suppose you could boil these too). rinse very well and it should be fine.

  3. Oh no, mine was NOT fine after a hot bleach bath, a vinegar bath, and a baking soda bath, NOTHING got the smell out completely. How can non-stick and aluminum be so porous to absorb these odors? The plastic I can understand, but the non-stick aluminum lid and bowl? I’m about ready to give up, i’ve cooked a pot of rice, and the smell is absolutely still there. The next thing to do is try to infuse the thing with the smell of coffee, something burnt is a strong odor, let’s cross fingers….

  4. uh, yeah, so, this is pretty much the worst advice ever. any plumber will tell you that putting rice down the drain is second only to pouring concrete down there. this is doubly so for garbage disposals, because it turns it into a paste that is literally impossible to get out––the pipes have to be replaced if it gets bad enough. second, you don’t want to be sending mold spores through the air, as was mentioned above. third, there are nooks and crannies that the mold get into that need to be cleaned, and possibly parts that need to be replaced. simply washing the bowl is not enough. you need bleach, q-tips for electronic parts, and a soak for submersible parts.

  5. I had green mold…hubby put the cooker away with rice still in it. SO horrible. It still smells. 🙁 I also put it down the disposal…didn’t even occur to me that the spores would get spread out. 🙁 Dang.

    I’m thinking we just need to replace our whole machine. SO bummed.

  6. My wife and I just moved in to a college apartment and our roomates had a rice cooker. We opened the thing and there was rice and a WHOLE lot of green and white mold inside for who knows how long. We are starving college students so rice is a necessity for us so we decided to clean it. I took it to the sink and dumped hot water into the pan and a good amount of bleach. When I did so, spores went everywhere. Are these spores harmful? The inside pot is now sitting in my sink with the bleach water soaking inside, and the rice cooker has mold on the inside of the lid (which is attached to the cooker itself) I am afraid to take water to the cooker for fear of electrical hazards and I don’t know what to do to clean it. Any advice?

  7. I believe all containers are porous (plastics) and adhesive(aluminium) to vating degrees.
    they should be physically washed, chemicaly neutralised, destroyed by bleach, and the smell/taste masked with a counter smell/taste substance.(coffee/lime).
    Taste and smell are extremely sensitive, and evoke several responses and reflexes.
    An age old tradition in sri lanka, is to replace clay and plastic containers in the new year!

  8. My sister noticed black mold on the top of the rice cooker….they had already eaten the rice should they go to the Dr.?

  9. I have done this before after initial cleaning I do a “dry” run and let it go through a cycle with just water no rice. The steam will kill anything left then wash again and you should be good.

  10. I don’t understand. If you leave it, especially without the warm feature on, of course the rice will rot because of bacteria or mold like any food.
    I don’t find anything wrong with the rice cooker if you don’t use the “warm” feature. Of course the rice will rot.

  11. This has recently hapened to me too, My concern are the health effects. I threw up as soon as I smelled the mold. Did anyone get sick form this or have any long term health effects? thanks.

  12. I’ve had this situation occur *three times* since purchasing my rice cooker!
    THREE TIMES!!!
    You would think I would have learned from the first occasion, but because I cook large quantities of rice at a time (so that the leftover rice is ready to be used for “Fried Rice”), there have been occasions when I’ve simply forgotten to put away the leftovers!
    But anyway, my reason for commenting was to share my simple, foolproof technique (keeping in mind that I use the rice cooker in the “Asian” fashion – otherwise called the “Absorbtion Method” – meaning that their is NO leftover water in the cooker/pot, and the leftover rice is dry ????)
    So here it is:
    1) Empty the mouldy rice into an old plastic grocery bag, tie it in a knot and throw in the trash can.
    2) Fill the metal “bowl” (well, it’s more of a container, but you know what I mean!), with hot water and dishwashing liquid
    3) Soak for 10 minutes – any longer isn’t necessary!
    4) Rinse and then wash with a sponge and more hot, soapy water.
    5) Rinse and then dry. The “bowl” should now be clean and fresh!!
    6) Regarding the lid, if your lid is the same metal as the “bowl”, then washout the same way, however, if (like mine) it is metal encased in an unremovable plastic lid, then wipe the inside of the lid with alcohol wipes (dirt cheap at the drugstore!), to remove the mold spires and any bacteria, and THEN use a wet soapy sponge to wipe off the alcohol/Isopropyl odour and residue from the lid, and then dry.
    7) TA-DA . . . You’re now the owner of a perfectly clean rice-cooker!! ????????
    (Now, if you’re a bit pedantic and want to add ONE MORE ASSURANCE OF “MOULDLESSNESS”, LOL!!, then “Modizzle’s” suggestion of a “dry-run” is ideal – basically, you run a cycle with water ONLY – the steam will kill ANYTHING remotely considered “life”, hehehe ????!!) Furthermore, if there is ANY odour remaining, which there shouldn’t be, ESPECIALLY if you use the Absorbtion Method – because “dry mould” doesn’t smell malodorous! – then the most effective “cure” is Vanilla essence (you can add it to the water in your dry run, or buy a spray bottle of Refridgerator Cleaner, which is basically Vanilla essence and alcohol! It works a dream, and think about it: if it can remove FRIDGE ODOURS (onions, sour dairy, rotten fruit & veg, seafood smells etc.), then it is DEFINITELY going to work on a bit of relatively weak mould odour! The brand I use is “McLintock’s Vanilla Fridge Wipe” – it’s basically Fabreeze for your white-goods!
    Good-Luck,
    Chaq

  13. Thank goodness I am not the only one….rice cooker has been emptied and had an initial wash but the whole unit stinks and now sits closed in my garage. Will try the veggie wash, lemons, and the vanilla this week. Thanks for the advice!!!

  14. Mold spoiled my three rice cookers already and I didn’t have any solution of this problem. This post is so relief to me because I was fade up of this problem.

    Thanks a lot for this post.

  15. I even saw pink (like cotton candy) in my rice cooker. At first thought I found it magnificent! What a beautiful color! But when I regained conscious it smelled kind of sickening(and kind of sweet). But the real problem is it’s never ending sickening smell!!! Every time I cook rice I smell that sweet&terrible smell. When I searched on internet I found out that pink mold was extremely toxic. WTH? Didn’t I say beautiful things are bad..

  16. “Steam will kill anything” = WRONG!
    Spores are extremely tough and the bacteria that cause rice to start going bad produces a heat-STABLE toxin which will make you VERY sick! Look it up.

    But clean it well with soap and water as suggested and you should be all good! Using a “citrus-y” detergent should help with the smell.

    Rice BTW can be used as cheap glue in a pinch. if you have an envelope to close, or paper and are looking for a completely nontoxic glue solution, just take a little cooked rice grains with wet hands and squeeze/crush it directly on the paper…. Try it! (No doubt, Throwing rice down your drain is about the worst things you can do the disposal would likely only make the situation worse!)

    Best wishes!

  17. Oh my god! I tot im the only person in the world who can leave in rice in the rice cooker n forget all about it. So happy to know im not the only one!!!
    Just fyi, i gave up n threw away the cooker cos the image will stay with me forever haha

  18. Just opened up my rice cooker to find that I had not put the left over rice in the fridge…That was one of the worst smells I’ve ever encountered! I washed the bowl and lid in hot soapy water, sprayed the inside of the machine with vinegar water (I did make sure it was unplugged first ;]) and wiped that down, and now I’m running it with water and a quarter cup of vinegar. Just an FYI, a professional has warned me to never use bleach on mold as bleach can aggravate some strains, he said to always use vinegar!

  19. Wow! And I thought I was the only person who is having this problem.
    First of all, I’m sure mold is one of the causes for some of us, but I don’t think it’s just mold that is causing everyone’s rice to go sour. I’ve been having this very same problem for about a year now.
    I’m Vietnamese and we eat rice just about everyday. For the past 45 year I never have any issue with rice going sour in the rice steamer. We have always been using TIGER (from Japan) rice steamer and been very pleased with it. It’s one of those steamer where it cooks rice only and nothing else! We tried to cook the exact amount of rice only enough for certain meals or for the whole day. Who need left overs, when it only takes about 25 mins to cook them? And sometime on the weekends I may have left over, because we decided to go out and eat. Even when we have extra rice left in the steamer I would set WARM for days and it still would never go sour!
    Long story short:
    I’ve been having this problem for about a year now. Where if I set WARM even with over night, then the next morning the rice would get sour and bad. I’ve clean the steamer with every possible ways you can think of, I’ve changed out steamer machines three times, and I’ve changed different types of rice many times. But strangely I still have this problem once a while, so we try to cook just enough each meal.
    *Shrugs, I don’t know if it’s the mold, the quality of the rice, quality of the steamers, or the water?

  20. at uni and have taken my mum’s cooker, left some rice in there and completely forgot about the cooker, after a few months the cooker was completely, and i mean completely covered in mold, blue, white green, fluffy bits as well, and it wasnt just on the bottom of the cooker, it was thick, left it with boiling hot water and fairy liquid for 20 minutes, now im going to try and scrape it out

  21. i don’t think i will be using it ever again, once it has been cleaned i will be sending it back home, my mum has had it since before i was born and has grown quite attached to it

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