How long can soda be left out unopened?

Quick answer

Unopened soda that has been stored properly can stay fresh and safe to drink for an extended period of time. An unopened 2 liter bottle or can of soda will usually last 3-6 months beyond the printed expiration date if stored in a cool, dark place. Once opened, the soda will go flat from carbonation loss after about 2-3 days. For best quality, unopened sodas are best consumed by the expiration date printed on the package.

Does unopened soda expire?

Yes, unopened sodas do technically expire. The printed expiration date on the soda package indicates the date at which the manufacturer estimates the beverage will reach peak freshness and flavor. This date assumes proper storage at cool temperatures away from heat and sunlight.

After the printed expiration date has passed, soda that remains properly stored and unopened will usually maintain good quality and be safe to drink for an additional 3-6 months. However, soda kept for longer than 3-6 months after the printed date runs a higher risk of degraded quality from flavor and carbonation loss.

What happens as soda gets old when unopened?

As soda ages, even when the container remains unopened, some subtle changes can occur:

– Loss of carbonation – Carbon dioxide bubbles are what provide the tingling, effervescent texture to soda. Over time, CO2 gas can slowly escape through the walls of the sealed can or bottle.

– Off-flavors – The complex balance of flavors like citrus, vanilla, and spice oils can degrade into chemical off-notes with age. The beverage may lose its bright, crisp taste.

– Color changes – Pigments that give soda its appealing color can fade over time after prolonged light exposure. The beverage may appear slightly dull or discolored.

However, if kept at a cool temperature and out of direct light, these undesirable changes happen slowly in an unopened soda. Changes accelerate once the container is opened.

Does light or heat affect unopened sodas?

Yes, light and heat can degrade the quality and shelf life of sodas over time, even while still sealed. To maximize freshness and shelf life of unopened soda:

– Store in a cool, dry place – Avoid hot places like directly next to a stove or in hot garages. Refrigeration can extend shelf life but is not required. Ideal is a dark pantry around 55°F.

– Keep away from sunlight – Ultraviolet light can cause fading of colors and degrade flavor over time. Store soda in boxes or cupboards instead of windowsills.

– Avoid extreme temperature swings – High heat and freezing/thawing temperatures speed up the deterioration of soda. Keep storage temperatures as consistent as possible.

Proper storage in cool, dark conditions minimizes chemical and quality changes, allowing unopened soda to retain good flavor and carbonation past its printed expiration date.

How long do unopened soda cans last at room temperature?

When stored at typical room temperatures around 68-77°F, unopened canned sodas will stay at peak quality for about:

– 3 months past printed expiration date – Most full flavor & carbonation is retained within 3 months past the expiration date if canned soda is stored around room temperature.

– 6 months past expiration date – Soda remains safe to drink but may have slight flavor and carbonation loss within 6 months past printed date.

– 9-12 months past expiration date – Quality decline is more noticeable. Carbonation is flat and flavors are muted and off.

For best taste, consume canned sodas within 3-6 months past the printed expiration date when stored at room temperature. While still safe for longer, noticeable quality drop-off occurs after 6 months. Refrigeration can help extend the shelf life.

Does refrigerating unopened soda prolong freshness?

Yes, refrigerating unopened sodas can help prolong their freshness and shelf life compared to room temperature storage. In the refrigerator around 40°F, unopened soda cans or bottles will maintain optimal taste for:

– 6-9 months past the printed expiration date – Refrigeration keeps the beverage tasting crisp and carbonated.

– 12 months past expiration date – Flavor, color and carbonation will have some degradation but soda remains potable.

– 18+ months past expiration date – Quality decline is more advanced. Beverage is safe to consume but carbonation is lost and flavors are off.

The low temperatures of refrigerated storage slow down the chemical reactions that lead to flavor and carbonation loss. Just be sure to keep the cans or bottles away from freezing temperatures, which can damage cans and seep carbonation.

Does soda go bad or make you sick if expired?

No, consuming soda past its printed expiration date will not make you sick or be dangerous to drink. Unopened sodas have a long shelf life, even past the expiration date.

However, expired soda may have an unpleasant metallic or acidic taste from chemical changes. Flat or degraded soda is a quality issue, not a safety issue. Any mold growth would be visible on the soda itself or around the lid.

Always inspect soda containers before drinking and discard any that are heavily dented, bulging or leaking, as these defects can allow microbes to contaminate the beverage. Otherwise, expired but properly stored soda will not harm you, it will just have decreased fizz and flavor.

How long does unopened soda last in the fridge?

Unopened, refrigerated soda typically lasts:

– Up to 9 months past printed expiration date – Stored in the fridge around 40°F, canned or bottled soda stays fresh and carbonated for up to 9 months past its printed expiration date.

– Up to 1 year past expiration date – Soda remains safe though some subtle flavor/carbonation loss may be noticed.

– Up to 18 months past expiration – Soda is still safe to drink but will be flat and off-tasting by this point.

The refrigeration temperatures help slow the deterioration in quality of the sealed soda over time. For ideal taste, aim to drink refrigerated sodas within 9 months after the printed expiration date.

Does plastic vs glass bottled soda last longer?

There is no significant difference in shelf life between plastic soda bottles versus glass bottles. Both container types are quite effective at retaining carbonation and preventing oxygen and moisture from degrading soda’s quality over time. Generally, they will have the same expiration dates.

However, there are a few considerations:

– Plastic is lighter and more shatter-resistant for transport and storage.

– Glass offers better UV light blocking to prevent light-induced flavor/color changes.

– Glass is more eco-friendly and can be recycled endlessly, while plastic has more limited recycling potential.

– Clear plastic bottles increase light exposure and may have shorter shelf lives if stored in sunlight.

For longest shelf life, store any bottled sodas away from heat, freezing, and sunlight. But both plastic and glass are equally effective at sealing in the carbonation.

Does soda go flat quicker in plastic or cans?

Contrary to popular belief, soda loses carbonation at the same rate whether stored in plastic bottles or aluminum cans after production. The container material does not affect the gradual release of dissolved CO2.

However, cans may seem more carbonated when first opened for a couple reasons:

– Cans contain slightly more CO2 at packaging – Canned sodas are generally packaged with slightly higher carbonation levels around 4-5 volumes of CO2 compared to 3.5 for plastic bottles.

– Bottle caps are not air tight – Air can gradually seep in as pressure normalizes after opening. Cans maintain their pressurization after opening.

Still, kept sealed before opening, the shelf life and gradual carbonation loss over time is the same for both plastic and aluminum containers. The packaging has little effect on opened product’s lifespan either. Soda from bottles or cans will both go flat in around 2-3 days after opening.

Does freezing extend soda’s shelf life?

Freezing unopened soda is not recommended. The freezing and thawing process can actually shorten the shelf life of sodas. Effects of freezing include:

– Weakened packaging – Bottle and can materials become more brittle and prone to cracking when frozen. Gas pressure inside builds up.

– Accelerated carbonation loss – More CO2 fizz can escape through damaged packaging seams upon thawing.

– “Freezer burn” flavor – Ice crystals rupture cell structures causing taste degradation. Notes become flat and chemical-like.

– Can damage – Water expanding as it freezes deforms the can shape. Weak spots develop and seams split.

Instead of freezing, the optimal storage temperature to prolong soda’s shelf life is cool and consistent. For cans and plastic bottles alike, try refrigerating at 35-40°F without allowing freezing. The chilled but unfrozen environment will maintain carbonation and full flavor for 6-12+ months past the printed expiration date.

Does expired soda make you sick?

No, drinking soda after its expiration date will not cause food poisoning or make you sick. If it was stored properly sealed, expired soda is not dangerous or hazardous to consume.

The worst that can happen with old soda is a change in taste – faded, flat, and off-flavors. This is simply a quality issue rather than a food safety one.

Signs that soda has truly spoiled and may cause illness include:

– Mold growth inside the bottle/can or around the lid

– Strong rancid or rotten odors

– Visibly fizzing or bubbling inside container

– Bulging or badly dented/rusted packaging

If soda shows no odd smells, visual mold, or bulging containers, it is safe to consume from a food safety standpoint. The flavor just likely will not be optimal. If ever in doubt, you can always err on the side of caution and discard it.

What happens if you drink soda that has been opened for a while?

While drinking soda that has been sitting open for an extended period of time won’t make you sick, it will likely be unpleasant. After opening and exposure to oxygen, soda deteriorates rapidly.

Within the first 24 hours, the soda will lose most of its carbonation and go flat. The flavors also become degraded more quickly without the protection of the sealed container.

Within 2-3 days, opened soda tastes flat, watery, and metallic. The flavors are very faded and unrecognizable.

After 1 week, opened soda tastes awful – very metallic, watery, and acidic. At this point, mold growth inside the bottle is also a risk.

While not hazardous if consumed quickly, opened soda should be discarded if left sitting out too long after opening. The taste and quality drop-off is quite fast without the airtight seal.

Does soda expire if never opened?

Technically, yes – even if the soda container is never opened, the contents will degrade in quality over time after production. The expiry date printed on the package indicates the timeframe at which the manufacturer believes the product will reach optimal taste and freshness by if unopened.

However, with proper cool, dark storage, unopened sodas tend to stay drinkable and retain decent carbonation and flavor significantly past their printed expiration date, usually for several additional months.

So while soda does technically expire and degrade slowly even when sealed, keeping the container closed ensures the best-quality shelf life overall compared to opened product. An unopened soda stored properly has a long shelf life – but not indefinite.


The shelf life of soda depends heavily on whether the container is opened or unopened. When sealed, sodas can maintain good flavor and carbonation for 3-6 months past the printed expiration date if stored properly in cool, dark conditions. Once opened, the shelf life decreases rapidly to just 2-3 days before noticeable flavor degradation occurs. While not a food safety issue, expired soda will taste increasingly unpleasant over time – flat, metallic, and rancid. For the best taste experience, aim to consume sodas in their prime before the product deterioration advances too far. Refrigeration and avoiding freezing, heat, and sunlight helps prolong soda’s shelf life after production.

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