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How to Clean Sticky Rice Steamer Basket

In this post, learn how to clean your sticky rice steamer basket quickly and easily.

Cooking sticky rice in a steamer basket is the most authentic (and delicious) way to make sticky rice. Sticky rice is known formally as glutinous rice and is popular in Thai and Lao cuisine.

While there are various ways you can make sticky rice, using a steamer basket is the most authentic way to get the glutinous chewy, sticky texture that everyone loves.

Using a steamer basket does often prove to be a challenge when it comes to cleaning. However, I’m going to share with you my favorite tips on ensuring that you can continue re-using your sticky rice steamer basket over and over again. 

My current sticky rice steamer basket is approximately a decade old. Ensuring that you take care of your basket will ensure that you’re not having to throw it away each time you use it (that could get quite expensive).

Tips on Cleaning Sticky Rice Steamer Basket

The tips I’m going to share with you regarding maintaining your sticky rice steamer basket. Some of these tips include preventative maintenance so that you’re not having to scrub the basket post-cooking. My goal here is to allow you to be successful in cooking sticky rice as well as ensuring that your new apparatus is maintained for future years.

These tips are great for both the steamer baskets as well as transcending towards the serving baskets (known as khao thip) as well.

how to clean sticky rice steamer basket

Cleaning a New Sticky Rice Steamer or Serving Basket

When buying a sticky rice steamer or serving basket brand new, you are going to want to thoroughly wash it. When I say thoroughly, I mean you’re going to be soaking it in water for 3-4 days.

The reason why you want to clean it is because if you actually see how bamboo sticky rice steamers are made, they are made often using hands and even feet! Afterwards, they are hung up on the roadside to hang dry. The place where they hang dry may have cars or automobiles near them kicking up dust and debris that might hang from the baskets.

Cleaning them will allow you piece of mind when cooking your first batch of sticky rice as well as prevent any sort of discoloration from your first batch.

How to Clean a New Sticky Rice Steamer or Serving Basket

How to Clean a New Sticky Rice Steamer or Serving Basket

Yield: 1
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Active Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 4 days
Total Time: 4 days 20 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Learn how to clean a sticky rice steamer or serving basket.


  • Dish Soap, unscented
  • 1 Lemon


  • Sticky rice steamer basket
  • Large soaking pot or bucket (that fits the steamer basket in it's entirety)


  1. Fill the soaking pot or bucket with warm water.
  2. As it's halfway filling up, add a drop of unscented dish soap and one squeeze of lemon into the pot. Allow the suds to appear.
  3. Submerge the steamer basket into the pot or bucket. Rotate the steamer basket and allow it to sit submerged.
  4. Change the water, adding soap and lemon, every 24 hours for 3 full days.
  5. On the last day, remove it from the pot and wash it in the sink, carefully removing all the suds and impurities.
  6. Allow it to air dry in the sun for a couple of hours.
  7. Cook sticky rice!

Preventative Maintenance for Sticky Rice Steamer Basket

Before cooking any sticky rice, you’ll want to soak the inside and outside of the sticky rice basket prior to pouring in the sticky rice. This will prevent the sticky rice from “sticking” too much to the basket when it’s done cooking. I cannot emphasize this step enough.

If you make both white sticky rice and black/purple sticky rice, I would recommend having a basket for each. Please know that if you make black/purple sticky rice, it will stain the bamboo steamer basket. That’s definitely okay. You can use a mesh cloth or cheese cloth between the basket and black/purple sticky rice if you want to prevent too much discoloration of the basket.

Cleaning Rice Baskets

If you have old sticky rice stuck on the side of the basket, you can use a plastic rice paddle or asian spoon to gently scrape the rice from around your basket. Just dump it out, soak the basket, and you should be ready to make your next batch of rice.

Note: If you leave your rice sitting in the container too long, you can develop mold. At that point, you’ll want to ensure you follow the steps above like buying a new steamer basket to clean it thoroughly.

Choose a sticky rice steamer basket that actually sits in the lip of the pot. I’ve seen these cylindrical instead of cone shaped steamer baskets, but they aren’t quite the same as the conical ones.

If the rice is having a hard time coming off, you can soak it in a large pot of water to soften the rice before scraping it off.

When to Replace Your Steamer Rice Basket

You’ll know when to replace your steamer basket when you see fraying pieces of bamboo. You’ll want to replace it because you won’t want to get these frays in your sticky rice. It will look like small pieces of bamboo all over the basket that look frayed and spread apart.


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More Sticky Thai Recipes That You’ll Love

If you loved this post on how to take care and clean your sticky rice steamer basket, see below for some recipes for sticky rice. Please write a five star review and help me share on Facebook and Pinterest!

how to clean sticky rice steamer basket

how to clean sticky rice steamer basket

how to clean sticky rice steamer basket

how to clean sticky rice steamer basket

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