How Long Can You Store Bottled Water? ( In Your Home, Garage or Car )

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During the past couple of years, there have been made a lot of studies about the levels of plastic we have in our bodies, yes you heard it right, almost all of us has traces of plastic in our body, and this is mostly linked to water bottles and other plastic containers.

According to the US Food and Drug Administration, bottled drinking water is not required to have an expiration date. However, it is generally recommended to follow best practices and consume the bottled water within 2 years from the date of manufacture. This ensures optimal freshness and quality. It’s important to store the water in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight and chemicals, to maintain its quality over time.

If you are serious about stockpiling water you should also take into consideration that your water supply could be damaged or even contaminated. In this case, you should have at least one way how to purify water, my personal recommendation is to get a water filtration system with a 0.1 Absolute Micron filter that also comes with 4 drink straws, one for each of your family members Click here to check it out on

No matter what kind of SHTF scenario you are preparing for, in terms of survivability water is your most important item. Depending on the area where you live, stockpiling water can be a challenge in certain areas. Even if you think that your local area has plenty of water, in a grid-down situation this water supply can stop abruptly. When stockpiling water for an SHTF situation you have to consider how easy it is to get water even if the power grid is down, is there plenty of rainfall, and if there are any local freshwater streams. Although as a smart prepper, you always should have a backup plan like a water filtration system, in my recent article Do Lifestraws work? ( Or do they? ) where I have analyzed how well suited a Lifestraw is in an SHTF situation.

For more in-depth information about Prepping Click here to check out my recent guide

In terms of stockpiling water, there are 3 kinds of preppers, the ones who store water in plastic bottles, the ones who store water in water barrels, and the ones who have a constant fresh water supply from a local stream. While storing water in barrels specially designed to store water is the best option but this is not viable for everybody, especially if you live in a tiny apartment. No matter how you decide to stockpile water, do not ever use glass bottles to store them as these occupy more space as you can not stack them one upon the other without increasing the risk of them breaking.

In this case, plastic bottles are your best option, as you have probably noticed all plastic bottles have an expiration date. However, the actual water inside the water does not expire as water doesn’t go bad if stored correctly and it is uncontaminated, the problem is with the actual plastic in the bottle. Depending on the PH level of the bottled water, which means how acidic it is, the water will slowly start to dissolve the plastic.

This is a slow process that takes years, and slowly but surely the water will be contaminated with plastic. Once this happens most people just throw away the water, but what people tend to forget is that we ingest plastic almost every day as most foods in supermarkets are wrapped in plastic and it is inevitable that we ingest some minute particles of it. In my recent article Staying home during SHTF ( Can you? ) I point out that this is not a viable long term strategy, however, it is advised that you fill all your plastic bottles with water, and also fill your bathtub and sinks with water as depending on the SHTF situation your tap water might get cut off for an undetermined time. If you want to know more information about storing water then check out my recent article How to store water long term ( In 7 Easy Steps ).

How Long Can You Store Bottled Water?

Unopened water bottles last for around 2 years, once you have opened them provided that you store the bottle correctly it should be fine for another couple of weeks. Even if you are using water from your own tap the water is still safe to drink for several years. If you are using plastic bottles to stockpile water my recommendation is to rotate the water bottles once every 6 months or so, this way you will stretch your safe to drink water supply for as long as possible.

As for how long can you actually store water in plastic bottles before it gets contaminated by the plastic will depend on what kind of plastic is used and the source of the actual water. You do not need to keep in mind which kind of plastic is used for your water bottles, if the bottle has been specially manufactured to hold water and sodas it should be fine. In some cases as in an imminent SHTF situation, you might be forced to improvise with what kind of plastic bottles you use for storing water. If you are wondering if you can use milk jugs to store water then check out my recent article Is it safe to reuse milk jugs for water? ( Top 7 Things to Know ).

In this case never use plastic bottles that were made for storing detergent, milk, shampoo, shower gel, and so on, only use bottles that previously contained in them either water or soda.

  • High-density polyethylene (HDPE)
  • Bisphenol A (BPA)
  • Fluorine-treated HDPE
  • Bioplastic
  • Low-density polyethylene (LDPE)
  • K-Resin (SBC)
  • Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
  • Polycarbonate (PC)
  • Polystyrene (PS)
  • Polypropylene (PP)

How Long Can You Store Water In Glass Bottles?

Provided that the water bottles are kept in a cool environment, out of direct sunlight, and properly sealed your water should be safe to drink theoretically forever. Water does not have an expiration date and will never go bad, usually when water is not considered safe for drinking is when it has been contaminated. These contaminations can be anything from toxic fumes, parasites, mycobacteria, or chemical agents.

Water is acidic and the temperature of the water will determine how acidic it is, generally the higher the temperature of the water it is the more acidic it becomes. In the case of plastic bottles, this higher acidity could start to break down and deteriorate the bottles, but this does not happen with water bottles made out of glass. On the other side, glass water bottles do cost a lot more than plastic ones, and you will need a lot of room for stockpiling water in glass water bottles for an entire family.

Below-freezing temperatures are extremely dangerous for glass water bottles, as the water inside freezes it dilates and increases in volume. Plastic bottles are fairly flexible and they can withstand this internal pressure by distorting the actual plastic bottle, however, as glass bottles are not flexible at all these can break easily. In addition to this, if for whatever reason you are forced to bug outyou will find it extremely difficult to carry your water in water glasses as these will easily break, plus they are much heavier than plastic water bottles. If you are wondering if you can store water in milk jugs then check out my recent article Is it safe to reuse milk jugs for water? ( Top 7 Things to Know ).

How Long Can You Store Water In Metal Bottles?

As long as these are properly sealed and stored there is virtually no limit for how long will the water in it be safe to drink. Just keep in mind that not all metal bottles are stainless steel, the ones that are not will start to oxidate and corrode eventually. Metal bottles are usually more flexible than glass bottles, and even if the water freezes under normal circumstances, the metal bottle shouldn’t deteriorate to the point that it will start leaking.

How Long Can You Store Tap Water In The Fridge?

This will depend on what kind of recipient you will use for storing the water, glass, and metal bottles should be fine for years provided that they are sealed. Plastic bottles on the other hand eventually will start to deteriorate due to the plastic container. Usually, people who store water in the fridge do it for immediate consumption and not for stockpiling, in this case usually these bottles are opened fairly regularly.

My recommendation is to clean these bottles once a week if possible, to avoid any outside contaminants and bacterial growth.

How Long Does Bottled Water Last After Being Opened?

Once you open up a water bottle it will get contaminated with bacteria especially if you drink directly out of the water bottle, in this case, bottled water after it has been opened will last from 5-7 days. This, of course, will depend also on the ambient temperature, as higher temperatures will aid bacterial reproduction. Some water bottle companies also include fluoride in the water, in this case, water should be safe to drink for a longer period of time of around 2 weeks.

The reason why water that has fluoride in it will last a lot longer is due to fluoride’s antibacterial properties, which even after opening the water bottle will do its job of killing most of the bacteria. While fluoride will not be able to kill 100% of the bacteria it will definitely slow their reproduction down by a lot.

Can You Store Bottled Water In The Garage?

Yes, the garage is an excellent place to store bottled water as garages’ are usually cooler than the rest of the house. In addition to this storing your water bottles in your garage also protects the bottles from the sun’s harmful UV rays which could speed up the deterioration of the plastic bottle. Just keep in mind that during wintertime if your garage is not heated the plastic water bottles can freeze.

You should avoid this by all means as freezing your water bottle and then letting the water melt will cause some water contamination from the plastic. In addition, if you are heating your garage make sure that your water bottles are as far from the heater as possible, prolonged exposure to heat will increase the deterioration of the plastic bottle and increase the water’s PH value. This means the plastic bottle will start to deteriorate eventually and as the acidity of the water in the bottle is increased due to the higher temperature you might have some bottles leak.

If the water stored in the garage has a chemical or gas taste then the main reason for this is that the plastic bottles are absorbing the fumes from your vehicle. You should definitely throw the water away, and stop storing water in your garage. Even if you do not keep solvents, fuel, and chemicals in your garage the water could still be contaminated by them if you start the engine of your car in the garage.

Best Types Of Bottled Water

While all water bottles are regulated by the FDA not all of them have special certification from International Bottled Water Association(IBWA) or the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), if you are planning to stockpile bottled water for the long term my recommendation is to get either IBWA or NSF certified bottled water. Just be careful what kind of water you choose to stockpile as some water bottles contain regular tap water.

  • Mineral water: According to the FDA these have to come from underground sources and the minerals have to be already in the water source.
  • Springwater: Underground water that naturally comes onto the surface
  • Well water: Water that is extracted from a natural aquifer.
  • Artesian well water: This is mostly the same as well water, the big difference is that artesian well water is collected by tapping in the rock.

In case you have decided to stockpile water bottles whose source is from the local municipality make sure that they have a good purification process such as:

  • Distillation: water is heated to the point it is transformed into vapor and the vapor is then condensed into drinkable water.
  • Ozonation: this means that the inside of the water bottle is treated with ozone gas.
  • 1-micron filtration: This means that all particles larger than 1 micron are filtered out of the water.
  • Reverse osmosis: water is pushed through special kinds of filters and membranes.

Storing Bottled Water

No matter, if you are a prepper or not, your household should always have at least 3 days of water for each member of your family. Keep in mind that this is only for human consumption if you also take into consideration cooking and cleaning you will need a lot more water. By far the easiest, cheapest, and safest ways of storing water is in plastic bottles, not only these are cheap but in a bug out situation, these are also easy to carry.

Bottled Water Rotation

If you have a food pantry you are probably already rotating your food supplies in order for these to last longer and to avoid them going bad. The same general rule applies to the water rotation system, once you already have a stock of water once you get more water bottles make sure that these go at the “end of the line”. This means always rotating your water in a way that you consume the oldest water in your stockpile.

How Sunlight Affects Bottled Water

You have probably seen on most plastic bottles the sign to avoid sunlight, direct sunlight could potentially destroy your entire bottled water stockpile. Exposure to the sun’s UV rays will start deteriorating the plastic bottles, not only that but the sun will also raise the temperature of the water inside the bottle which in time will further deteriorate the plastic bottle. Usually, the best place to store your bottled water supplies is in the basement due to its cooler temperature and no sunlight.

If you do not have access to a basement you can always use any room where you have enough space. As most rooms also have windows make sure that no sunlight gets on the water stockpile, and even if it does not, keep in mind that the furniture and the walls of the room will radiate heat once the temperature rises. In this case, my suggestion is to put some fabric on the water bottles, not only to avoid indirect sunlight but also because darker environments are usually cooler.

Storing Solvents And Chemicals Next To Bottled Water

Don’t store your solvents and chemicals in the same room as your water bottles as there is a risk of getting them contaminated. The plastic bottles do not even have to be in close contact with these solvents and chemicals to get contaminated. As solvents and chemicals such as fuel will create vapors and gases which will penetrate plastic bottles even if these are not opened. Depending on what kind of plastic the bottle is made of most types of plastics are permeable which means that these vapors and gases will go right through the plastic recipient.

Bottled Water Storage Temperature

Make sure that you have a constant cool temperature, this way your plastic bottles will last much longer than if they are in a hot room. Just make sure that the temperature is above freezing, as frozen water will deteriorate the plastic bottles as the water is expanding. This is also very important if you decide to stockpile water in glass or metal containers. Storing bottled water in a hot garage, is an extremely bad idea, as the water will spoil very fast and it will also taste bad.

Does Vitamin Water Expire?

Yes, vitamin water does expire, as usual, this is plain water with added minerals, vitamins, and a lot of sugar in it. Usually what happens is that the actual water will be fine but the vitamins and sugars combined will alter the taste and the shelf life of the vitamin water. Vitamin water is also extremely sensitive to sunlight and temperature fluctuations, while regular water is fine with higher ambient temperatures the contents of the vitamin water will start to alter and react with each other.

Vitamin water once opened will go bad in around 2-3 days, if you keep it in a refrigerator you can extend its shelf life to 3-5 days. Anything longer than that once opened you will notice a foul smell and in some cases, sugar starting to deposit on the bottom of the bottle.

Is It Safe To Drink Expired Water?

Yes, it is safe to drink expired water, in some cases, the color and taste of the water will change depending on how old the water it is. Expiration dates are usually an assurance of quality, meaning if you drink the water before its expiration date will have the desired taste made by the manufacturer. However, the manufacturer does not guarantee the same taste after the expiration date as there are many factors that will determine the taste of the water.

Do note that by water I just mean that, there are a lot of people who consider sodas and juices to be water. While these do contain water but their added content of sugar, vitamins, minerals, and preservatives are not actually considered water. Drinking sodas and juices after the expiration date are not advised as the different chemical components will react with each other and in some cases might even become toxic.

Why Are Algae Growing In Bottled Drinking Water?

Usually, this happens if the bottled water has been exposed to direct sunlight, once the bottle has been opened it has all the nutrients it needs for algae to grow in the water, provided they also have access to direct sunlight. This also will depend on the purity and the purification system used by the water bottle company, usually, the ones that use fluoride do not grow algae even if left in the sun for prolonged amounts of time.

Some water companies use tap water which uses chlorine to purify the water, while the actual chlorine is filtered out before the water gets bottled sometimes small traces of chlorine are left inside the bottle. In this case, algae will not form in the bottle due to the chlorine as this will kill off most bacteria, and parasites in addition to algae.

Dangers Of Plastic Water Bottles

You have probably come across plastic bottles that have the sign “BPA Free” on them, but you probably do not know what is BPA and why you should know, especially if you are stockpiling water in plastic bottles. BPA is one of the most common ingredients of plastic, plastic which is used for packaging food and for water bottles. Studies have shown that bisphenol A (BPA) is harmful, especially to pregnant women in high enough doses.

The problem with BPA is that it can be found not only in plastic bottles but all kinds of plastic food recipients and once these plastic bottles or containers become heated the BPA molecules come free. BPA affects your natural hormone balance which can lead to decreased fertility, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases among others. Although most scientists claim that our exposure to BPA is only in small doses but even in these small doses BPA does have an endocrinological effect.

Key Takeaways

  • Properly stored and sealed bottled water can be safely stored for an indefinite period, as long as it remains free from contamination. The plastic bottles used for commercial water storage are designed to provide a barrier against contaminants and to maintain water quality.
  • It is recommended to store bottled water in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and chemicals. Exposure to heat and sunlight can degrade the plastic bottle over time and potentially affect the water’s taste and quality. Avoid storing bottled water near sources of chemicals or strong odors that could potentially contaminate the water.
  • While bottled water does not have an expiration date, it is advisable to periodically check the bottles for any signs of damage, such as cracks or leaks. If you notice any compromised bottles, it’s best to replace them. Additionally, it’s a good practice to rotate your water supply regularly to ensure freshness and to consume older bottles before newer ones.