How long does bottled water last

Image from Pexels

Bottled water is one of the fastest ways to rehydrate when you’re on the road and looking for mineralized water. It’s portable and not too heavy. You may prefer this over tap water from Reverse Osmosis systems, or you’re thinking of keeping a stock of bottled water to plan ahead for future travels or emergencies, but how long does bottled water last?

Luckily, this article aims to shed light on the cautions of bottled water and how you can prevent it from causing health issues!

Does Bottled water go bad?

Image from Pexels

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notes that there is no shelf life limit for bottled water, hence requiring no expiration date. However, New Jersey implemented an expiration date for bottled water of two years back in 1987.

Additionally, most companies still indicate an expiration date even when the FDA doesn’t require one. But does bottled water go bad? Here’s where it gets tricky; water doesn’t expire, but plastic chemicals can leach into it over time, leading to infections.

Luckily water doesn’t ferment like food does, so you don’t have to worry about it turning into alcohol and getting you drunk.

The issue with bottled water

Image from Pexels

Companies use various chemicals in making plastic food containers, including water bottles. When consumed daily, these plastic compounds become dangerous as they can build up in your body, harming your respiratory system, gut health, and immunity.

But it ultimately depends on how you store it. Dr. Mason, Ph.D., notes that water bottles’ expiration date is not directly related to microplastics but to how it’s stored. Incorrect storage can cause more bacteria and chemicals to filter into the water, contaminating it and causing health issues for consumers who frequently drink bottled water.

Potential problems with old bottles of water

Image from Pexels

Several potential problems can occur if you drink from an old plastic bottle. These include:

Chemicals in bottles

Image from Pexels

Microplastics from plastic water bottles contain chemicals from manufacturing and production. Chemicals such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) can cause health hazards. 

The bottle’s plastic can also leach chemicals into the water, especially when exposed to heat or sunlight. Some of the most dangerous chemicals are antimony, a potential carcinogen related to lung and heart cancer, and Bisphenol A (BPA), which can interfere with hormone production in the Endocrine system. Low levels of BPA are considered harmless but banned from formula packaging, sippy cups, and infant bottles for child safety.

Taste and odor

Image from Pexels

Old water can develop a stale or off taste and may have an unpleasant smell, making it less appealing to drink. Bottled water is also permeable as it may absorb odors from its environment and affect its taste when stored in a space with strong odors.

Additionally, bottled water is exposed to small amounts of outside air, even when sealed. The air mixes with the water and changes its taste. It may not be a health hazard, but it’s something to avoid to maintain the water’s fresh taste.

Leaving water exposed can create a metallic and oxidized taste, like putting aside a glass of water overnight. Distasteful water can also happen when you store water for a long time. So it’s best to pay attention to the 2-year expiration date to prevent this.

Bacteria contamination

Image from Pexels

If the bottle is not stored or sealed correctly, bacteria can grow in the water, making you sick if you drink it. According to studies, opened bottled water can expose you to bacteria from the mouth and skin and cause clinical disease. Consumers can fall victim to vomiting, food poisoning, or diarrhea. 

The following bacteria were in an opened water bottle: 

  • Corynebacterium ssp.
  • Staphylococcus spp.
  • Moraxella spp.

These can cause heart disease, bronchitis, and whooping cough.

Despite water requirements, other countries also face micro-bacterial pollutants found in their bottled water, even sealed. Frontiers found that Ghana and Lebanon have the most rejected bottled water due to bacteria. 


Image from Pexels

Now that you know the potential risk of drinking bottled water, knowing how long and where to store it is one of the best practices to ensure clean water. Here are some answered questions to prevent infection, especially for those who regularly drink from plastic bottles.

How long is it safe to store bottled water?

It is generally safe to store bottled water for a short period, such as weeks to months. But storing bottled water properly and regularly checking the expiration dates, if indicated on the bottle, can keep chemicals and bacteria from spreading in your bottled water.

How long can you leave water in a plastic bottle?

Proper bottled water storage includes keeping it in a cool place, away from direct sunlight and heat. Consumer Reports noted that if the water has been stored in a hot area or exposed to high temperatures, it raises antimony levels. 

It’s also best to ensure you store your bottled water in a space away from any household cleaning supplies to avoid odor or other bacterial infections that can infect the water.

Properly storing your bottled water can help lessen bacterial growth and risks of side effects like vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and stomach pain.

It’s generally not recommended to drink water from an old bottle, especially if you are not sure of the storage conditions or the age of the water. The best option is to drink fresh, clean water from a reliable source.

How long is unopened bottled water good?

Again, unopened bottled water is good for 2 years when properly stored in a cool place away from household chemicals and excessive heat. Drinking expired water may contain high levels of antimony and BPA when left in places with excessive heat, like hot cars.

Conclusion – how long does bottled water last?

2 years of a water bottle may feel like a long time to feel comfortable with it. But the short answer to how long does bottled water last is:it doesn’t matter what the amount of water is, it depends on how you store it and what exactly are the dates on water bottles.

Having clean drinking water means keeping a healthy quality of life. One way to reduce the risk of contaminants in bottled water is by using containers that are made from BPA-free plastic or water cooler jugs to keep your water cold and fresh. Nonetheless, correctly storing your water and checking its shelf life are the main things to ensure you’re maintaining high-quality water!


Al-quadan, Tasneem, et al. “Bacteria and Chemicals in My Bottled Water?!” Frontiers for Young Minds,

“Bottled Water Storage.” International Bottled Water Association, 3 Feb. 2021,

Felton, Ryan. “Can You Drink Expired Bottled Water?” Consumer Reports, 15 Aug. 2019,

Gordon, Karen. “Do Water Bottles Expire?” LiveScience, Purch, 11 May 2022,

Link, Rachael. “Does Water Expire?” Healthline, Healthline Media, 15 Jan. 2020,

“Public Health Statements.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 Feb. 2021,

Riley, Chris. “How Long Does Bottled Water Last?.” Greener Choices, 11 Feb. 2021,