Can you eat rice without washing it?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “Can you eat rice without washing it?” and discuss the risks and disadvantages associated with eating unwashed rice. 

Can you eat rice without washing it?

Yes, however, it is recommended to wash the rice before eating it. Even though cooking kills most bacteria in food, some bacteria, such as Bacillus cereus, may survive, and washing is an additional step in ensuring food safety. 

Washing rice before cooking not only ensures cleaning but also rehydrates them and helps remove surface starch from rice grains, making them gummy as they cook. 

Why is washing rice recommended? 

If the grains are not washed before cooking, this residual starch gelatinizes in the hot cooking water and makes the cooked grains of rice stick to each other. If you cook sticky rice varieties like glutinous rice and arborio rice without washing, you will end up with very sticky rice (1).

When you open up a sack of rice, the grains of rice have made quite a long journey. Throughout the journey of processing, packaging, traveling, and storage, they are constantly rubbed against each other, creating friction among the dry grains of rice, which produces starch dust that covers the grains (1).

Also, it is essential to wash the dust off the rice when cooking dishes like biryani and pulao that use long-grain rice, such as basmati, and are valued in quality by how to separate the cooked rice grains. The purity of the drained water shows that most of the starch dust is washed off, and the rice is set to be soaked (2).

In short-grain rice recipes, such as short-grain sushi rice, the rice is cooked in water or stock to form a thick, soupy liquid. While the starch dust may help to thicken the soup, the rice should still be cleansed before cooking to eliminate any dirt, chemicals, and bugs that may be present. 

The intrinsic features of sticky rice (i.e., a low amount of amylose and a higher quantity of amylopectin) thicken the liquid easily, so wasting any of that starch dust during rinsing is not a problem. 

One more thing you can do to reduce the viscosity of amylopectin is to add any acidic ingredients, for instance, lemon juice, in the end, and make sure to stir while cooking.

Washing rice can also significantly reduce the number of toxic heavy metals (for instance, lead, arsenic, and cadmium) that accumulate in the plant (3). 

Does soaking rice before cooking helps? 

Soaking rice for thirty minutes before cooking is enough, which provides many benefits: Firstly, it helps to reduce cooking time as the grains absorb water. 

It also hydrates the grains; consequently, the amylose and amylopectin in the starch granules absorb water and expand(4). 

When it comes to types of rice that are regarded for their fragrance, such as basmati and jasmine, the aroma increases if the rice is soaked before cooking. This is because soaking decreases the time required for cooking, resulting in a limited reduction of the aromatic substances that naturally occur during the cooking process.

To sum up, soaking helps the rice to have a better, more even texture instead of drying out while the core is not precisely steamed and fluffed. 

What is the best way to wash rice?

  • Strainer Method: The first is to use a big strainer with a fine metal mesh. Run warm or cold water atop the rice until it gets clear. Collect some in the clear glass if it is hard to gauge clarity in water running through the mesh. You will be able to look into the glass and observe (4).
  • Bowl Method: The second way to wash rice is to put it in a container and add sufficient water to submerge it. Then put it in your hand. Stir through the rice, turning your fingers, giving the rice grains a good twist. You will notice the water cloud. Drain that water. Add new water. Repeat till the rice looks clean.

Once you have washed, cook. The ratio of rice to water varies but usually sticks around one and a half cups of rice for every cup of water.

Can I get sick from eating uncooked rice?

Yes, uncooked rice can have a bacteria, Bacillus cereus, which can sometimes withstand the cooking process. If rice is not kept at 140 degrees Celsius when left out for two hours or longer, any remaining bacteria can multiply and make you sick if you eat that rice.

Kalita B and Dihingia S reported that eating uncooked rice can cause  irregular bowel habits, off-on fullness, and pain in the abdomen (5).

What is the disadvantage of washing rice?

One disadvantage of washing rice is nutrient loss. Some nutrients in rice, such as thiamine, niacin, and iron, are water-soluble and may be lost when the rice is washed. However, the amount of nutrient loss is minimal and can be offset by consuming a varied diet that includes other sources of these nutrients(6). 


In this brief guide, we have answered the question, “Can you eat rice without washing it?” and discussed why it is necessary to wash rice before cooking it, along with the risks and disadvantages associated with eating unwashed rice.


  1. Jiang J, Li J, Han W, Yang Q, Liu Q, Xiao H, et al. Effects of Reheating Methods on Rheological and Textural Characteristics of Rice Starch with Different Gelatinization Degrees. Foods. 2022;11(21).  

  1. Li H, Yang J, Gao M, Wang J, Sun B. Washing rice before cooking has no large effect on the texture of cooked rice. Food Chem. 2019;271.  

  1. Khan SI, Ahmed AKM, Yunus M, Rahman M, Hore SK, Vahter M,. Arsenic and cadmium in food-chain in Bangladesh-an exploratory study. J Health Popul Nutr. 2010;28(6).  

  1. Zhang Q, Xiang J, Zhang L, Zhu X, Evers J, van der Werf W. Optimizing soaking and germination conditions to improve gamma-aminobutyric acid content in japonica and indica germinated brown rice. J Funct Foods. 2014;10.
  2. Kalita B, Dihingia S. The woman with a habit of eating uncooked rice. International Journal of Scientific Reports. 2018;4(2).  
  1. Rezaei M, Alizadeh Sani M, Amini M, Shariatifar N, Alikord M, Arabameri M. Influence of cooking process on the content of water-soluble B vitamins in rice marketed in Iran. Food Sci Nutr. 2022;10(2).

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