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 associated with eating unwashed rice. 

Read on to know why it is necessary to wash rice before cooking it. 

Can you eat rice without washing it?

No, it is not recommended to eat rice without washing it. Washing rice before cooking not only ensures cleaning but also rehydrates them and helps to remove surface starch from rice grains, which can make them gummy as they cook. 

Why is washing rice necessary? 

When you open up a sack of rice, the grains of rice have made quite a long journey. Throughout the journey of processing, packaging, travelling, 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.

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.

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

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 prior to cooking to eliminate any dirt, chemicals, and bugs that may be present. 

The intrinsic features of sticky rice (i.e., low amount of amylose, 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 gently 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. 

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, in consequence, the amylose and amylopectin in the starch granules absorb water and expand. 

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. 

So what is the best way to wash rice?

You can follow any one of the following methods to wash the 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. If it is hard to gauge clarity in water running through the mesh, collect some in clear glass. You will be able to look into the glass and observe.

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 one cup of water.

Can I get sick from eating uncooked rice?

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

Other FAQs about Rice that you may be interested in.

How much water for half a cup of rice?

How to cook rice in the microwave for a single serving?

How to preserve rice


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 associated with eating unwashed rice.