Surprise! Leftover Rice Water Is the Magical Multi-Purpose Cleaner We've Been Disregarding for Years

Melissa Locker
·2 min read

The next time you're whipping up Jambalaya, a Shrimp and Pesto Rice Salad, or Black Beans with Coconut Lime Rice, do not let one of the most useful, cheap cleaning products go right down the drain. Rice water—the water leftover from rinsing rice before cooking—can be used to clean dishes, countertops, kitchen appliances, and make your sheets incredible soft.

Rice water is easy to make. Simply soak a cup of uncooked rice in two cups of water and give it a swirl until the solution is milky. Then, strain the rice water mixture, saving the rinsed rice for a favorite recipe. Alternatively, if you are boiling rice for dinner, strain the rice and save the precious water for when you're ready to clean. "Avoid basmati rice or brown rice since these types of rice don't have that much starch, which is what makes rice water such a good cleaning agent," Sabrina Wang, a health advocate and blogger, told Apartment Therapy. Like all the best advice, she picked up this cleaning tip from her mother who in turn had learned it from her grandmother.

To use the rice water as a cleaning product, dip a clean cloth into the rice water and start scrubbing shower doors, appliances, copper pots and pans, and nearly everything in between. The secret is that rice water is starchy and slightly acidic making it great for gently cleaning ceramics, glass, mirrors, metal, and more.

In addition to cleaning, the starchy rice water is also an excellent water conditioner. In fact, Lifehacker reports that rice water is one of the secrets behind why hotel sheets are so darn soft. They point to a story in the Daily Mail where cleaning blogger Shannon Lush recommends adding one cup of rice water to two cups of plain water and stirring thoroughly. Then, pour one cup of the rice-water solution into the fabric conditioner slot on the washing machine, and half a cup straight into the wash to get sheets that are smooth, crisp, resistant to wrinkles, and feel downright luxurious. For regular use, Lush recommends keeping the rice-water in a jar in the laundry room and adding two tablespoons during the final rinse. "That will give your sheets that same crisp feeling you get at a hotel, and will absorb sweat better and even treat your skin," she told Australia's News.com.

Over at the Kimchi Mari blog, you'll find tons of uses for rice water from face cleaning to cooking. The one that really popped out though was using rice water to soak up stubborn smells from plastic food storage containers by filling them with rice water and letting sit for 30 minutes.

If you have leftover rice water, keep it in an air-tight bottle or jar and store in the refrigerator for up to a week.