Bottled Water Shelf Life: Can It Go Bad or Expire? (HOW TO TELL)

image of bottled water

We all enjoy a cold bottle of water fresh from the fridge. Buying bottled water in bulk is a great way to always have water on hand.

However, there may come a time when you notice that there has been a case of water in your pantry for a long time, and you need to ask yourself: can bottled water go bad?

Short Answer: 

Although the FDA doesn’t require bottled water to be labeled with a shelf life, we recommend not storing it for longer than two years.

It may seem like bottled water should live forever, but if it is in the wrong container, then this shelf-life might be threatened. 

In this article, we are going to be looking at how long bottled water lasts and how best to store it to keep it fresher for longer.

Let’s find out more.

How Bottling Keeps Water Fresh

image of opened water bottled sit out

Water is a naturally occurring substance that does not go bad on its own.

However, to make it easy to portion and distribute, water needs to be bottled.[*]

The water is usually mineral water or sourced from a spring. This water is then treated to remove any organic material, metals, and bacteria.

This process also improves the taste of the water.

The bottles themselves are made of thin, transparent plastic that should be BPA-free. They are sterilized before being filled and tightly capped.

This creates a sealed environment that keeps the water from going stale from air exposure. It also protects it from any external contaminants.

Can Bottled Water Go Bad?

Bottled water should be kept for no longer than two years. This shelf life reduces to one year for sparkling water. [*]

Once opened, you should finish a bottle of water within two days for the best flavor.

The issue is not the water itself but the plastic bottle that it is housed in. The plastic bottles that hold the water will degrade over time and begin to leach chemicals into the water.

This is why it is so important to drink from BPA-free bottles, as this material won’t affect the water over time.

However, this is not always possible, so it is important to be able to tell when it is fresh. 

Fresh bottled water will be:

1. Flavorless and Fresh

A good bottle of water should be fresh and free of any flavor.

It should taste refreshing and have no aftertaste.

2. No Scent

When you open the bottle, there should be no odor whatsoever.

A scent will indicate that there are contaminants in the water.

How to Tell if Bottled Water Has Gone Bad

If you have had your water for a while and it is not in BPA-free plastic, then you need to know what to look out for in case it has gone off. 

If the water has gone off, we recommend using it to water your plants so it doesn’t go to waste, and to recycle the bottles.

Bad bottled water will be:

1. Strange Smell

The first thing you will notice is a strange smell.

It will be an old smell that indicates that chemicals have leached into the water.

2. Off Flavor

If you don’t notice a weird smell, tasting the water is perfectly safe if it’s in small amounts.

It will taste old and a little like chemicals. If this occurs, the water should be disposed of immediately.

What is the Best Way to Store Bottled Water?

The best way to store bottled water is in a dark, cool cupboard or pantry.

Exposure to extreme heat, especially for extended periods, will degrade the plastic in the water bottles more quickly and cause them to leach chemicals into the water.

The best spot to store bottled water is in a dark pantry that is away from direct sunlight and nowhere near the stove.

To avoid taking up too much space in your fridge, only transfer a few bottles at a time as you need them.

It is safe to freeze bottled water if you need it, but we do not recommend this for long-term storage.

Learn more: Does Distilled Water Go Bad?



After diving into the world of bottled water, what have we learned?

  • Bottled water should only be kept for two years.
  • The water doesn’t go off, but the plastic bottle will leach chemicals into it.
  • Sparkling water will only last one year when stored.

Now off you go and drink your bottled water before it goes bad!

Up Next: Your Common Food Ingredient’s Shelf Life – A Comprehensive Guide By Groups

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