Does Soda Go Bad

So there was this big sale, and you’ve bought a bunch of cans of Coke, Pepsi, or Dr Pepper. Only once you started stacking them in the pantry, you realized you’ve bought way too many to use them before their due dates. So you started wondering: does soda go bad?

Since soft drinks come with a date on the label, many people decide to discard them once they pass that date. And there’s little reason to do that.

Soft drinks are (pretty much) carbonated water with some sort of flavoring and maybe a sweetener if it’s not a diet soda. And some preservatives if needed.

All of that is tightly closed in an aluminum can or plastic bottle. There’s not that much that can happen to such a mix as it’s well protected from the outside world.

If you’d like to learn more about storage, shelf life, and going bad of soft drinks, read on.

Bunch of soda cans
Image used under Creative Commons from poolie

How To Store Soda

As I described earlier, all kinds of soft drinks are very similar in terms of ingredients. Thus when it comes to storage, it doesn’t matter much if it’s 7 Up, Mountain Dew, Mirinda, or any other soda, diet or not.

You can store an unopened can in the pantry, kitchen, or in the fridge. Just make sure it’s a place where the temperature doesn’t fluctuate. The pantry is probably the best choice simply because storing it there means the drinks don’t clutter the kitchen or the refrigerator.

Tip

If the soda comes in a plastic bottle, make sure it’s in a dark place, not on the countertop.

Before serving, it’s best to chill the drink in the fridge for an hour or two, as soft drinks are best served chilled.

A can of Coca Cola
(credit: Mae Mu)

Once you open the bottle or tin, the leftovers need to be refrigerated.

If it’s a bottle, make sure it’s sealed tightly before you chuck it in the fridge. If it’s an aluminum tin, it’s best to either pour the drink into a plastic bottle or at least cover the top with aluminum foil and a rubber band. That is, of course, if you want some of those bubbles to stay in the drink.

How Long Do Soft Drinks Last

As I already mentioned, soda comes with a best-by date on the label. Please note that’s just a rough estimate of how long the drink will retain freshness.

As long as the bottle or can is unopened, the liquid is well protected from the outside world. And that means it should easily last at least a few months past that date.

A can of Pepsi Max on a table
(credit: Olena Sergienko)

In many places, you can find people suggesting that soft drinks last about 6 to 9 months past the date on the label. That’s a pretty good estimate.

Of course, you might open a can of Coca Cola that’s “expired” for over a year, and it might still be good. Or stumble upon a bottle of Pepsi that’s only a month “old” that lost most of its fizz. There are no hard and fast rules here. All we work with here are estimates.

Once you open the drink, it’s obviously best to finish it in one sitting, just like with Gatorade or coconut water.

If that’s not an option, most soft drinks retain the flavor and some of the carbonation for 3 to 4 days in the fridge. Then they lose most of its fizz, just champagne does.

Past that point, most lose their fizz and taste so-so at best and terrible at worst. You can easily take a few more days to finish them up, but the flavor definitely won’t hit the spot.

 PantryFridge
Soda (unopened)Best-by + 6 – 9 monthsBest-by + 6 – 9 months
Soda (opened) 2 – 4 days

Please note the periods above are estimates and for best quality only.

Bunch of soda cans
(credit: Jonny Caspari)

How to Tell If Soda is Bad?

Let’s start with unopened soft drinks. If the bottle is damaged or leaky, discard the drink. Same thing if the can is bulging or severely dented. Or if it started rusting.

If everything about the can or bottle seems to be okay, the liquid inside should be fine too.

Once you open the drink that’s months past the date on the label, look for typical signs of spoilage, like an off odor, or changed color. Chances of that happening are slim to none, but hey, it’s always better to check.

If everything with the liquid seems to be okay, give it a taste to find out if it’s good enough to drink. If it’s flat or just doesn’t taste that great, it’s probably best to pour it down the drain.

Last but not least, if it’s already opened for more than a week, just cut your losses and toss it out. It makes no sense to drink a flat and tasteless soda.