Is bottled water still good after 2 years?

This is a common question that many people have regarding bottled water. When water is properly bottled and stored, it can maintain its safety and quality for an extended period of time. However, there are some factors to consider when determining if bottled water is still good after two years. In this article, we will explore how long bottled water lasts, signs that it may no longer be good to drink, and tips for proper storage.

How long does bottled water last?

The shelf life of bottled water depends primarily on two factors: the type of bottle it is stored in and how it is stored.

Impact of bottle type

Plastic bottles: An unopened plastic water bottle can last up to 3 years before the water starts to absorb flavors and chemicals from the plastic. Under ideal storage conditions, bottled water in plastic can last anywhere from 9 months to 3 years before degradation. Plastic allows very slight exchanges of chemicals over time that can impact taste and quality.

Glass bottles: Glass provides an absolute barrier against external elements that can impact water quality and taste. Properly stored glass bottled water can last indefinitely without going bad.

Impact of storage method

Proper storage is key to maintaining water quality over time. Recommended storage guidelines include:

– Store in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources
– Ideal temperature is room temperature or slightly cooler
– Avoid storage temperatures above 90°F as heat speeds up chemical exchanges
– Keep away from gasoline, paint, household cleaners and other chemicals
– Store bottles upright and tightly capped

Following these storage guidelines, bottled water can maintain its safety and quality for the following time periods:

Plastic bottles: 18-24 months
Glass bottles: Indefinite

With ideal storage conditions, most bottled waters remain safe and retain adequate quality for at least 2 years. However, some degradation in taste and chemical composition does occur over time.

Signs your bottled water may no longer be good

While the 2 year mark is a general guideline, there are some signs that your bottled water is reaching the end of its shelf life:


– Cloudiness or particulate matter visible in the water
– White mineral deposits or scaling on the bottle itself
– Growth of mold or microorganisms inside the bottle


– Strong plastic-like smells indicate the water has absorbed chemicals from the bottle
– Musty, stale or unpleasant smells mean the water is starting to go bad


– An unfamiliar chemical taste or plastic aftertaste
– Stale, flat or unusual flavors

If you notice any of the above signs, it is best to err on the side of caution and avoid drinking the water. The older water is, the more likely that degradation has compromised safety and quality.

Proper storage for maximizing shelf life

To get the most shelf life out of your bottled water and have it remain pleasant-tasting for years:

Choose glass over plastic – Glass bottles prevent absorption of chemicals and odors over time.

Store in a cool, dark place – Avoid prolonged exposure to heat or sunlight, which speed up chemical exchanges between the water and bottle.

Control temperature fluctuations – Try to keep storage temperatures relatively stable between 55°F and 90°F.

Keep bottles sealed when not in use – Cap tightly between use to prevent airborne contaminants or volatile compounds from impacting taste and quality.

Check for debris and sediment – Periodically inspect bottles for any accumulations of unseen particulate, especially if stored long-term. These can be signs of degradation processes occurring.

Watch expiration dates – While not a perfect predictor, posted expiration dates on bottled water give a general indication of expected shelf life for safety and optimal quality.

Following proper storage guidelines allows most bottled waters to retain their safety and taste for at least 2 years after bottling. However, remembering the signs of degradation and being aware of any changes in quality over time is important. When in doubt, stick to fresher bottled water whenever possible.

Can expired bottled water make you sick?

While water itself does not go bad or expire in the way foods do, bottled water can become unsafe to drink if stored improperly for too long. Here are the main risks of drinking expired bottled water:

Plastic chemical contamination – Over time, chemicals from the plastic bottle can leach into the water, creating a mildly toxic mix.

Bacterial growth – Without adequate preservatives and seals, bacteria can grow inside the bottle, causing gastrointestinal distress.

Poor taste/nausea – Even if not overtly toxic, consuming stale bottled water may result in an unpleasant or chemical taste that causes nausea.

Degraded quality – Certain minerals and compounds in the water itself may degrade or fall out of solution, impacting nutrition and hydration ability.

While not very common, there have been isolated cases of illness linked to consuming bottled water well past its expiration date or improperly stored long-term.

In most cases, the risks are not immediately dangerous or life-threatening. However, to avoid unpleasant symptoms or health consequences, it is best not to drink or cook with bottled water more than 2 years old. Trust your senses – if the water smells, tastes or looks off, discard it.

Does freezing extend the shelf life of bottled water?

Freezing is an effective way to extend the shelf life of bottled water beyond normal storage times at room temperature. Here’s how it works:

Slows chemical exchanges – Freezing puts the exchange of chemicals between the water and plastic bottle fully on hold, preventing degradation.

Inhibits microbial growth – The cold temperatures prevent microbial growth that causes contamination over time.

Maintains water molecules – Freezing “locks” H2O molecules in place, preserving the structure and quality of the water itself.

Avoids bottle damage – As long as fully thawed before opening, freezing does not compromise the bottle’s seals or structural integrity.

Research shows that properly frozen bottled water maintains quality and taste for up to 2-3 years before chemical changes or absorption of odors from the freezer may occur.

The main downside to freezing bottled water is changes in taste and mouthfeel after thawing. The thawed water may taste flat or lifeless on the tongue. However, the safety and chemical composition remain intact.

So freezing can essentially pause the clock on bottled water shelf life. Just be aware that the thawed water may not be as palatable long-term. But it remains safe for consumption if frozen and stored properly in air-tight containers.

Does microwaving bottled water impact safety or taste?

Microwaving bottled water is generally safe, but not recommended as it can impact the taste and quality of the water in a few ways:

Imparts plastic flavors – Heating causes more rapid leaching of chemical compounds from the plastic bottle into the water. This can leave a strong plastic aftertaste.

Alters mineral content – Some minerals like magnesium or calcium may fall out of solution when heated in microwave. This impacts nutrition and taste.

Creates hotspots – Microwaves heat unevenly, creating extremely hot pockets that alter the structure of the water.

Leaches BPA – Bottles containing BPA plastics may leach more of this potentially toxic compound when microwaved.

Causes scaling – Rapid boiling of water leaves behind white mineral deposits on sides of bottle.

While these changes do not necessarily make the water unsafe to drink immediately, microwaving is not recommended for bottled water you plan to store for long periods afterwards.

The FDA also warns against putting plastic bottles containing BPA in the microwave, as the BPA levels then exceed the agency’s safety recommendations.

In summary, it is safer and will better preserve taste to microwave water in a mug, kettle or jar and then pour into bottles for storage if desired. Avoid microwaving bottles directly.

What is the best way to check if bottled water is still good?

If you are unsure whether a bottled water is still safe and palatable to drink, here are some good ways to check:

Inspect appearance – Check for any debris, particulates or discoloration in the water itself.

Smell for odors – Remove cap and sniff for any unusual or chemical smells, which indicate leaching.

Check for leaks – Inspect bottle cap and seal for any cracks that may have allowed in contaminants.

Taste a small sip – An odd chemical flavor likely means compounds have leached from the bottle.

Observe when bottled – Compare against any expiration or “Bottled On” dates listed.

Consider how it was stored – Heat and light degrade quality faster than cool/dark storage.

Check manufacturer guidelines – Most give general timeframes for how long after bottling their water stays fresh.

Trust your senses – Don’t drink if smell, taste or sight seem off, even if within expected shelf life.

While bottles protect against some degradation, your senses are the best tools for gauging drinkability. Always err on the side of caution if water seems even slightly off after storage.


Bottled water can generally stay safe and retain adequate quality for 2 years from bottling with proper storage. Plastic bottles have a shorter shelf life of 9-18 months before developing a chemical taste. Glass bottles stored cool and dark can last indefinitely.

Watch for signs like changes in taste, odor, appearance or expired dates to indicate water may be going bad. While not very likely to make you acutely ill, drinking expired bottled water can expose you to toxins and cause nausea or diarrhea.

Freezing bottled water and keeping caps sealed extends shelf life. But microwaving speeds up chemical leaching and quality degradation. Inspect closely and trust your senses to determine if older bottled water is still good before drinking. When in doubt, stick to fresher sources for optimal safety and taste.

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