How long can rice water last?

Quick Answer

Rice water that has been stored properly in an airtight container in the refrigerator can last up to 5 days. However, it’s best to use rice water within 2-3 days for maximum freshness and to avoid spoilage. Leaving rice water out at room temperature is not recommended as it can go bad within 12-24 hours.

What is Rice Water?

Rice water is the starchy liquid left over after rice has been soaked or cooked. It contains nutrients like vitamins, minerals and amino acids from the rice. Rice water has been used topically and orally in various Asian cultures for centuries as a natural beauty treatment for hair and skin. More recently, rice water has become popular in the natural hair community for its potential benefits for hair.

Benefits of Rice Water for Hair

Using rice water on hair has a few potential benefits:

  • Contains inositol, amino acids, vitamins and minerals which may strengthen hair
  • May add shine, smoothness and softness to hair
  • Some find it helps hair growth
  • May help repair damaged hair

These benefits are thought to come from the rice water’s high concentration of inositol, a carbohydrate found in rice bran. Inositol is believed to help strengthen and repair damaged hair. Rice water also contains amino acids, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins like vitamin B and E which can further improve hair health.

How to Make Rice Water

Rice water is easy to make at home with either leftover rice water from cooking or by soaking rice specifically for rice water.

Here are two simple methods:

Leftover Rice Water

After cooking rice as normal, drain and collect the starchy water left in the pot. This water can be stored in the fridge and used within 2-3 days.

Soaked Rice Water

1. Add 1⁄2 cup of rice to a bowl and rinse thoroughly.
2. Fill bowl with 2-3 cups of water and let rice soak for 30 minutes.
3. Drain rice water into a container, discarding the rice.
4. Store rice water in fridge up to 5 days.

Tip: Brown rice contains more nutrients than white so makes a better rice water. Combining different rice varieties can also boost nutritional value.

Does Rice Water Need to be Refrigerated?

Yes, it’s important to refrigerate rice water. Like many foods and beverages, rice water can spoil at room temperature. Bacteria grows rapidly in rice water if left out, causing it to go bad.

Refrigeration helps slow bacteria growth and keeps rice water fresh for longer. Fridge temperatures under 40°F puts bacteria in a dormant state, extending the shelf life of rice water.

Rice water should be refrigerated within 1 hour of making it. Transfer to an airtight container or jar before putting in the fridge. This prevents contamination and contains the smell.

Never leave rice water out at room temperature more than 1-2 hours before refrigerating. Rice water can grow dangerous bacteria when left unrefrigerated for too long.

How Long Does Rice Water Last in the Fridge?

With proper refrigeration, rice water can be stored 3-5 days.

Here is how long rice water can be expected to last in the fridge:

  • 5 days – Kept in airtight container in coldest part of fridge
  • 3-4 days – Stored in middle shelf of fridge
  • 2-3 days – Refrigerated in non-airtight container
  • 1-2 days – Refrigerated but container opened multiple times

The shelf life depends largely on how it was made, stored and exposed to contamination. Homemade rice water lasts a shorter time than pre-made rice water products.

Properly stored rice water keeps its freshness for 3-5 days. After 5 days, discard old rice water and make a new batch. Don’t use rice water over 5 days old.

How to Know When Rice Water Has Gone Bad

Check rice water for the following signs of spoilage before use:

– Sour, rotten smell
– Cloudy appearance, versus clear when fresh
– Mold developing inside container
– Rice particles or water has turned green

If old rice water exhibits any of these characteristics, throw it out. Using spoiled rice water can potentially cause infections. It’s best to discard rice water at the first signs of going bad.

A simple sniff test will often indicate if rice water has spoiled. If it smells unpleasant, it has likely gone bad and should not be used.

Does Rice Water Need to be Sealed When Storing?

Sealing rice water in an airtight container is recommended when refrigerating. An airtight container prevents contamination from fridge odors. It also locks in moisture to keep the rice water from drying out.

Suitable airtight containers for rice water include:

– Plastic food storage containers with tight-fitting lids
– Mason jars with two-part lid
– Vacuum-sealed bottles

Non-airtight containers like open bowls are not ideal as they allow smells and air to enter, causing rice water to deteriorate faster. Transfer rice water to an airtight vessel before refrigerating for maximum shelf life.

Tightly sealed also contains the smell of fermented rice water. Be sure to label rice water containers with the date made.

Can You Freeze Rice Water?

Freezing is an option for longer term storage of rice water. Frozen properly, rice water can be kept for 2-3 months in the freezer.

To freeze rice water:

1. Cool freshly made rice water to room temperature.
2. Transfer to a freezer-safe airtight container, leaving 1⁄2 inch of headspace.
3. Seal and label container with date.
4. Place in freezer and freeze for up to 3 months.

It’s best to use frozen rice water within 3 months for optimal quality. Frozen rice water may lose some of its potency over time.

Thaw frozen rice water in the fridge before using to prevent separation. Gently stir thawed rice water to recombine before applying to hair.

Does Rice Water Need to be Boiled Before Use?

Boiling rice water before use is not mandatory, but can be done for sanitation purposes. Here are the pros and cons:

Pros of Boiling:

– Kills any bacteria present, making it sterile
– Extends shelf life by a few days
– Inactivates enzymes and fermentation, reduces smell

Cons of Boiling:

– Heat can destroy some nutrients and vitamins
– Requires extra time and effort
– Removes benefits from fermented rice water

If your rice water smells very fermented or you want to maximize shelf life, bring it just to a boil then let cool. Otherwise, simply refrigerating rice water is adequate for safety.

Boiled rice water will last longer, but unboiled keeps more nutrients intact. It comes down to personal preference and planned usage time.

Does Fermented Rice Water Last Longer?

Allowing rice water to ferment by leaving it out at room temperature creates a probiotic-rich drink. However, fermentation does not extend the shelf life or make rice water last longer compared to fresh rice water stored in the fridge.

Here is how fermented vs. fresh rice water compare:

Type Shelf Life Benefits
Fermented 3-5 days refrigerated Contains probiotics
Fresh 3-5 days refrigerated Higher nutrient levels

The shelf life is the same, at 3-5 days in the fridge. Fermented rice water lasts no longer than regular rice water. Both should be discarded after 5 days.

The difference is fermented rice water contains probiotic bacteria for gut health, while fresh rice water retains more vitamins and minerals. Choose based on desired benefits.

Proper refrigeration is key for both types of rice water. Leaving either at room temperature too long (over 12 hours) will cause spoilage.

Signs Rice Water Has Fermented Too Long

There are a few signs that indicate rice water has become over-fermented:

– Very strong vinegar-like smell
– Sediment or layer of mold on surface
– Fizzing or bubbling when shaken
– Change from cloudy white to yellow/tan color

Rice water typically ferments for 12-24 hours at room temperature. If any of the above signs are present, the rice water has likely fermented too long. Discard over-fermented rice water and make a new batch.

Properly fermented rice water has a slightly sour, tangy scent but should not smell rotten. It retains a relatively clear, cloudy white appearance with no surface growth.

Monitor the fermentation process and refrigerate rice water once the desired sourness is reached for best results. Letting it over-ferment ruins the probiotics.

Does Rice Water Go Bad if not Refrigerated?

Yes, rice water can go bad very quickly if left unrefrigerated, especially in warm environments.

At room temperature or warmer, bacteria grows rapidly in rice water. The starchy, moist environment allows pathogenic bacteria to thrive if not refrigerated.

Here is how long rice water lasts outside the fridge:

– Within 5-6 hours – Starts smelling sour as fermentation occurs
– Within 8-12 hours – Bacteria grows to potentially unsafe levels
– 24 hours – Rice water completely spoils and can make you sick

Leaving rice water out overnight is unsafe. Always refrigerate rice water within 1-2 hours of making for food safety.

Rice water should never be left unrefrigerated for more than 6 hours. Discard rice water if left out too long at room temperature.

Can Rice Water Be Used After Refrigeration?

Yes, rice water retains its benefits and properties after being refrigerated. It does not need to be used immediately.

The best practice is to:

1. Make fresh rice water and let cool completely.
2. Transfer to an airtight container.
3. Refrigerate up to 5 days.
4. Remove from fridge and allow to come to room temperature before use.

Storing rice water in the refrigerator preserves the nutrients, vitamins and minerals it contains. Removing from the fridge prevents the rice water from feeling too cold when applied to skin or hair.

Refrigeration keeps rice water safe for later use. Rice water can be refrigerated multiple times within its 5 day shelf life. Simply bring back to room temperature before using.

Shake or stir refrigerated rice water before use to redistribute any sediment that has settled on the bottom from sitting. Then use as normal on clean skin or hair.

Does Rice Water Need to be Used Immediately?

Rice water does not need to be used immediately after making it. Refrigerating rice water stops fermentation and degradation of the nutrients it contains.

Freshly prepared rice water can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-5 days with no loss of benefits. Allow refrigerated rice water to come to room temperature before application for best absorption and to prevent feeling cold on the skin.

Rice water can also be frozen for even longer storage. It will keep frozen for 2-3 months before deteriorating. Defrost frozen rice water in the refrigerator before using.

So feel free to make rice water in advance and store it in the fridge or freezer. Refrigeration and freezing gives flexibility for when you want to harness the benefits of rice water on your hair and skin.


– Rice water lasts 3-5 days when properly stored in the refrigerator.
– Keep rice water in an airtight container in the fridge to maximize shelf life.
– Fresh, unfermented rice water lasts as long as fermented – both keep 3-5 days refrigerated.
– Rice water can be frozen for longer term storage of 2-3 months.
– Leaving rice water out at room temperature causes it spoil rapidly within 24 hours.
– Refrigeration is necessary to slow bacteria growth and keep rice water from going bad.
– Monitor rice water for changes in smell, color and texture to check if it has spoiled.
– Discard rice water after 5 days in the fridge or if any signs of spoilage.
– Refrigerating rice water allows it to be made ahead and used later when needed.


Rice water is best used within 2-3 days for maximum freshness and benefits. Properly stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, rice water can safely last 3-5 days. Leaving rice water out at room temperature will cause it to quickly spoil within 24 hours. Refrigeration prevents bacteria growth and fermentation, allowing rice water to be made in advance and stored until you are ready to use it on skin or hair. Discard any rice water over 5 days old or if any signs of spoilage. Follow proper refrigeration guidelines and rice water can be kept on hand for your hair care regimen.

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