I'm using a rice cooker to cook rice and I find the very next day it starts to increasing smell bad and I feel like puking just smelling it.

Not sure what the cause is but the rice cooker has started making funny noises when cooking(though rice cooks fine so probably not that) and I leave the rice in a poorly ventilated and warm environment. Still dont think that should cause it to go bad so soon as Ive always made rice in the same place and it doesn't do so bad.


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    Possible duplicate of How do I know if food left at room temperature is still safe to eat?
    – Erica
    Commented Jun 2, 2018 at 19:09
  • The temperature of my kitchen varies from 70 to 78F, we often use a rice cooker, but we do not leave the rice in the cooker after cooking. Sometimes we forget to place the rice in the fridge after it cools down and it has never gone bad overnight. One day just sounds too fast for the rice to go bad. Maybe the white stuff on the lid is going bad?
    – papin
    Commented Jun 2, 2018 at 21:29
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    Cooked rice is an excellent media for bacteria, fungus and slime molds. Sounds like your kitchen has picked up some nasty spores. Boil water in cooker, clean and bleach kitchen, then try again. Perhaps wait for weather to change. Molds and bacteria have preferred seasons. I would not eat the stuff. Commented Jun 2, 2018 at 23:09
  • It's probably a good thing that it smelled bad. The alternative is something called "fried rice syndrome": livescience.com/65374-bacillus-cereus-fried-rice-syndrome.html
    – Joe
    Commented Apr 19, 2021 at 23:00

5 Answers 5


Leftover rice is one of the most common causes of food poisoning. Once cooked it needs to be immediately cooled down if you aren't going to eat it straight away, and it needs to be kept cold until reheated. Reheating should be a quick process that doesn't allow it to sit for a long time at a lukewarm temperature.

  • Yup. The worst case of food poisoning I ever got came on about 24 hours after having a serving of fried rice from a popular chain here which had probably been sitting under insufficiently hot heat lamps since the lunch time rush. Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 0:20
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    Do you have a reference for leftover rice being one of the most common causes of food poisoning? I'd expect ehec on fresh spinach and lettuce or raw meat and seafood to be much higher on the list. (Or how many items does your list have anyway?)
    – Robert
    Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 19:20

Rice can be a very dangerous food.

It's always been recommended to me very strongly by my in-laws (Japanese, the family all together eats close to 1kg of rice a day) that rice, if not going to be eaten immediately, must either be left in the rice cooker on the 'keep warm' setting, or stored immediately in either the fridge (if you plan to eat it the next day or so) or the freezer (for keeping it up to a month after originally cooking it). And by stored I mean wrapped tightly in cling wrap or placed in a tupperware container or ziplock like bag. If storing in the fridge or freezer, it must also be prepared and stored straight out of the rice cooker while still warm. Do not leave it to cool on the bench before throwing it into the fridge/freezer, because that's when the rice will start to go bad.

Now, I don't have any scientific research to back up these claims, but I have seen the above advice repeated on various cooking related shows and by many a housewife here in Japan, so I would assume that they know what they're talking about to some extent.


Still dont think that should cause it to go bad so soon as Ive always

That's the problem with your line of thought, right there.

Your rice has always been unsafe. For safe rice, you have to cool it down to under 4 Celsius within 4 hours of being cooked.

Unsafe food will sometimes spoil, sometimes won't. It will sometimes make you ill, most of the time do nothing. And the two conditions - "spoiled" and "will make you ill" are only weakly correlated, you can get sick when unsafe food looks and smells perfectly OK.

Predicting what bacteria will take over unsafe food, or retroactively explaining it, is as difficult as predicting the weather. So a literal answer to your question (why did it happen now when it hasn't happened before) will take mountains of data and weeks of developing an appropriate model. Also, there is no way to give you advice under which circumstances to expect it - as long as you don't follow food safety rules, it can happen any time.


I noticed that the rice I cook lasts longer without spoiling than when my mom cooks it. I realized that it’s because I rinsed the rice more times than my mom did prior to cooking.

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    This answer would be improved if you could find any citations backing up your statement. It is currently anecdote + opinion, which doesn’t help much. Commented Dec 28, 2019 at 14:44

​ I used to be able to leave rice in the cooker 3 or 4 days. I eat white rice every day. Yes, I eat 4-day old rice left at room temp and never gotten sick. I've replaced several cookers when rice started spoiling too quickly. Sometimes, in less than 1 day. I tried all the remedies out there. Then I tried BLEACH!

It's not the water. It's not the rice. Adding vinegar does little or nothing. The problem is getting rid of the bacteria on and inside your rice cooker. Once you've let rice spoil in the cooker. The next time, it will spoil at much faster rate. But you can solve this. Soak the pot and lid in water and bleach. Unplug the cooker. Mix up a water and bleach solution. Spray inside the cooker, where the pot sits. Don't be afraid to let some of it run into the bottom, where the heating coil is. Don't soak the whole cooker. Just spray a nice coating of bleach and water. Let it sit for at least 30 min, long enough to kill bacteria. If you want, just let the bleach sit and dry on the cooker. Dump any excess out. Let it dry for a day or two. You have to clean the cooker. Not just the pot and the lid. Bacteria multiplies rapidly. If there's bacteria in the cooker, it will make its way past the lid and into the pot. ​ Look it up on intelligent scientific websites and you will find it's perfectly safe. What happens when bleach dries up? It leaves behind Sodium Bicarbonate. That's right, baking soda. ​ ​As for the other solutions... vinegar is LESS effective at killing bacteria than soap. Scientific fact. So you people who clean with vinegar, all you're doing is making your kitchen smell sour. "It's the water" or "it's the rice"? Cook that same rice with the same water in a regular pot on the stove. It won't spoil as quickly as it did in your bacteria infested cooker.​

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    Beach doesn't turn into sodium bicarbonate. (Where would it get the carbon from?)
    – Sneftel
    Commented Dec 28, 2019 at 12:31
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    I'm not convinced that bacteria can colonize a rice cooker in the way described. Commented Dec 28, 2019 at 18:56
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    I think this answer has value and can be improved. Bleach is an extremely effective and cheap sanitizer, capable of killing many different bacteria, viruses, and molds. Cleaning food preparation surfaces with a dilute bleach solution is a good practice. However it doesn't give enough detail, and should mention some caveats, such as accelerated corrosion of metal, especially aluminum, include a specific mixture e.g. for sanitizing surfaces (one part bleach to ten parts water is common), importance of air drying, etc. Also, including some references would improve the answer.
    – barbecue
    Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 15:04
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    The suggestion of eating unrefrigerated cooked rice alone makes me very unhappy. Yes, you may have done so without problems, but it’s by no means a safe kitchen practice. This kind of advice can get readers seriously sick. I strongly recommend the tour and the help center, especially How to Answer, then maybe an edit to focus on the actual question and back up your advice (see the other comments). And we do have a whole collection of food-safety Q/As, in case you want to (re-) read a bit more about the topic.
    – Stephie
    Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 18:23

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