How to Wash Rice: A Step-by-Step Guide


In a lot of households around the world, rice is a staple in almost every meal. It’s easily available, easy to cook, and can go with almost everything, whether it’s vegetables or meats. Some recipes even use it for desserts. While rice is eaten with a lot of dishes and can be found in almost every table, there are a host of people who are not aware that they should be washing their rice or don’t know how to do so. 

In this article, we’ll be teaching you how to wash rice as well as detailing exactly why you should be rinsing it. 

What Does it Mean to Rinse Rice?

Rinsing or washing rice means subjecting the rice grains to water until it runs clear. Rinsing doesn’t simply mean running the grains under water and calling it a day. In this case, rinsing rice needs a thorough washing that involves some handiwork. 

The tap water will appear cloudy at first but soon, the water will lose the cloudy, milky look and turn very clear. When the liquid finally turns clear, that means the rinsing is done and the rice is ready to be cooked.

Are You Supposed to Wash the Rice?

You might be reading conflicting statements here and there on whether one should wash rice or not. To clear up this debate once and for all: yes, you are supposed to rinse rice. Rinsing rice is vital for a number of reasons related not only to cooking, but your health as well. 

White rice isn’t the only type of grain that needs to be washed. Other food such as brown rice should be rinsed too, as well as other types of grains such as farro, barley, and quinoa. Quinoa grain has a layer that makes it bitter if it isn’t rinsed off. This is why it’s important to wash your grains before cooking and consuming — it can lead to better tasting rice.

Is it Necessary to Wash Rice Before Cooking it?

There are several reasons as to why washing rice before cooking it is highly necessary. First, washing the rice before cooking it cleans the grains. Similar to other food items such as vegetables and fruits, we wash those first before eating them to rinse off dirt. The rice that you’ve brought home with you has undergone a long journey: from the fields, to packing, to the market, and finally your home. It’s very likely that the grains have picked up pesticides, dirt, and dust. Allowing water to clean your rice will wash away all the debris that stuck on the grains. 

Another reason you should be rinsing your rice is because the grains have since become dehydrated as a result of being bagged or packed. Rising them restarts the process of rehydration, allowing your grains to start absorbing water and plumping up as well. 

One more reason to rinse your rice is to remove excessive starch that clings to the grains. The starch on the surface can cause the rice to clump together as it cooks, resulting in an unappetizing texture and feel.

What Is Surface Starch?

As mentioned, rice grains have a coating of starch on the surface. If you don’t wash your rice and cook it straight away instead, the starch has nowhere else to go except to return into the rice. This will then produce rice that’s sticky, clumpy, or gooey. By washing the rice before cooking, the starch layer will be removed, ensuring that your rice turns fluffy and delicious.

What Happens if You Don’t Rinse Rice?

If you don’t rinse your rice, you’ll end up with something that isn’t so palatable. Your rice could still have traces of pesticides and residue still sticking to the grains. Moreover, you’ll end up with clumpy, sticky, off-textured rice due to the starch remaining on the surface.

Why Do Japanese Rinse Their Rice?

Rinsing rice is absolutely critical in producing Japanese style rice, and especially when making sushi. The Japanese refer to this as “migaku” which means “to polish.” This ensures that the rice bran from the outer hull of the grain is removed and that only the vital parts of rice are retained. Sushi requires rice that isn’t clumpy or sticky, hence why Japanese people wash their grains.

What is the Best Way to Clean Rice?

Now that you know why washing the rice is important, it’s time to learn how to properly do it! Don’t worry, it’s a very easy method and you’ll be sure to master it in no time. 

How Do You Clean White Rice?

Here are the steps of an easy, foolproof method to clean white rice. All you need is water, a bowl, and a rice washer. If you don’t own one, you can use a sieve or a rice colander. If you don’t own either of the three, you can always use your hands. 

Step 1. Measure the amount of rice that you will be cooking. Once done, pour it into a bowl. Submerge it with a few inches of water. You may use two to three times the amount of water as the rice to clean it properly.

Step 2. With clean hands, stir the rice around the bowl, rubbing the grains against each other. This way, dirt and other impurities are removed. The water in the bowl will turn into a milky color as you do this.

Step 3. Use a fine mesh strainer to drain the water from the rice. A sieve or a colander with extra small holes will work as well. If you don’t own any of the aforementioned items, put your hand on the mouth of the bowl to prevent rice from spilling as you slowly tilt the bowl to drain the milky water. You can save the rice water for other purposes later on. If not, simply drain it down the sink.

Step 4. Repeat step 3 until the water turns clear. This is usually done several times. 

Step 5. Transfer your washed rice into your cooking pot if you’re making it on the stove. If you’re using a rice cooker, simply transfer it into the inner pot of the cooker. Add water for cooking. The ratio is usually one part rice to one part water, but it also depends on your personal preference, measurements, and type of grain. 

There you have it! Rice washing isn’t as daunting as it sounds. You’ll get the hang of washing the more that you do it. 

How Do Japanese Rinse Their Rice?

The Japanese rinse rice using the same process as the one detailed above. However, they have an additional step called “polishing” which involves inserting a hand into the rice and using constant rhythm and pace to the rice grains around several times. 

The polishing step increases water absorption, resulting in excellent taste and texture. Afterward, there is a final rinsing step which is adding water, mixing lightly, and then draining the water. This process is repeated until the liquid runs clear. 

Do You Wash Rice With Hot or Cold Water?

Cold water is the best to use when rinsing rice. You won’t be able to properly swish and scrub around if you use hot water. 

How Many Times Should You Wash the Rice?

Washing rice usually depends on how starchy it is. For less than four cups, it’s ideal to wash it twice. For between four to seven cups, it’s suggested to wash about three times. For more than eight cups, it should be washed around four times. 

How Long Do You Rinse the Rice Before Cooking?

Rinsing should be done in a quick manner. Each wash until the liquid runs clear should only take 15 seconds or less. Washing it this way prevents it from breaking as well.

Can You Overwash Rice?

It is possible to overwash, and it may result in the grain breaking. Always count how many times you have washed your rice. This way, you ensure that you get nice, non-clumpy rice and that you also don’t waste liquid. 

We hope that this article was able to help you in knowing why it’s important to rinse your rice and how you can wash it properly! Now that you have your newfound knowledge, you can look up the best rice recipes and create amazing dishes for lunch, dinner, or any meal.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How do you wash the rice without a colander?

You can simply drain the liquid from the bowl it’s contained in. Use your hand to keep the rice in the bowl while you pour the liquid out. You can also use a sieve or a strainer.

What can I use instead of a rice sieve?

You may use a colander with extra small holes.

How can I strain rice without a strainer?

You can use a sieve or a rice colander that has extra small holes in it. You can also use a washer bowl that has holes built into it. It’s designed for soaking and rinsing food items.

Can you boil and strain rice?

Boiling and straining isn’t exactly recommended as it can lead to loss of minerals and vitamins. Additionally, boiling also isn’t guaranteed to kill any germs or debris from the grains. It’s always best to just wash your rice.

How do you strain water from cooked rice?

Simply uncover your pot and cook it over low heat, allowing the water to evaporate. You can also put the rice in a baking sheet and dry it in the oven.