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How To Store Milk

Did you know that milk is a super versatile item, enjoyed by people all around the world? Not only is it a delicious beverage on its own, but it’s also an essential ingredient in many of our favorite dishes.

Because we use milk so much, it’s important to know how to store it properly. That way, we can make sure it stays fresh and safe to drink. So, let’s learn all about storing milk!

a large and small glass pitcher of milk with an wooden background.

How to store milk properly

Storing milk correctly is super important. It helps keep our milk tasting great and, more importantly, keeps us safe from any harmful bacteria. Here’s a list of steps on how to do it:

1. Keep it cold

Always store your milk in the refrigerator. The ideal temperature is between 34-38 degrees Fahrenheit (or 1-3 degrees Celsius).

2. Don’t delay

Once you open your milk, try to use it within seven days. The longer milk is open, the more likely it is to go bad.

3. Original packaging

Keep your milk in its original container. The packaging is designed to keep light out, which can help milk last longer.

4. Store in the back

Avoid storing milk in the door of your fridge. The temperature there fluctuates more than in the back, which can make milk spoil faster.

How long does milk last?

If you’ve ever looked at the date on a milk carton, you’ve seen the “sell-by” date. This isn’t the same as an expiration date.

The sell-by date is the last day stores are allowed to sell the milk.

Unopened milk can still be good for about five to seven days after the sell-by date. However, once you open the milk, it is best to use it within a week.

Can you freeze milk?

Yes, you can! Freezing milk can be a lifesaver if you’ve got extra milk that you don’t want to waste. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Space for Expansion: Before freezing, pour out a little milk from the container. Milk expands when it freezes, so it needs some room.
  2. Freeze It Right Away: If you know you won’t use it before it spoils, freeze your milk as soon as possible.
  3. Thaw Safely: When you’re ready to use your frozen milk, let it thaw in the refrigerator. It can take a day or two, so plan ahead.

Remember, thawed milk might look a little different and the texture might change a bit, but it’s still perfectly safe to drink and use in your favorite recipes.

How to store milk alternatives

What about non-dairy milk, like almond milk or soy milk? These milk alternatives often last longer than dairy milk.

Most can stay good for about seven to ten days after opening. As with dairy milk, always store them in the refrigerator.

Some types of milk alternatives can also be stored in the pantry until they’re opened. Just make sure to check the label.

How to tell if milk has gone bad

Knowing when milk has gone bad is very important. Consuming spoiled milk can make us feel sick. Here are some things to watch for:

  1. Smell: Spoiled milk often has a sour smell. If your milk smells off, it’s probably best to throw it out.
  2. Taste: If you’re not sure after smelling it, take a small sip. Bad milk often tastes sour or bitter.
  3. Look: Spoiled milk can look lumpy or chunky. It may also have a yellowish color.

If you’re ever unsure, it’s always safest to throw it out and get fresh milk. Find out how to tell if almond milk and coconut milk have gone bad.

How long can milk sit out on the counter?

Milk should not sit out on the counter for more than two hours. That’s because the temperature on most kitchen counters is in the “danger zone” (between 40°F and 140°F or 4.4°C and 60°C), where bacteria can grow rapidly.

This is especially true for dairy products like milk. If milk has been left out for more than two hours, it’s best to play it safe and throw it out to avoid the risk of foodborne illnesses.

Similarly, learn more about how long cream cheese or yogurt can sit out before it is no longer safe to eat.

Frequently asked questions about how to store milk

Milk should not be left out of the refrigerator for more than two hours. If left in warmer temperatures, bacteria can grow quickly, leading to spoilage. If milk has been left out for longer than this, it’s safer to discard it.

Non-dairy milk alternatives, such as almond or soy milk, should also be stored in the refrigerator and consumed within seven to ten days of opening. Some can be kept in the pantry until opened, but always check the label.

Unopened milk can last about five to seven days past the sell-by date if properly stored in the refrigerator. However, once opened, try to consume the milk within a week.


Storing milk properly is easy once you know how to do it. Remember, the key is to keep your milk cold, use it within a week of opening, and always check for signs of spoilage.

And don’t forget, freezing milk is a great option if you have extra that you can’t use right away. Now, you’ll never have to worry about your milk going bad too soon.

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