How Long Is Bottled Water Good For?

Rows of water bottles in plastic wrap

They say water is life. It rejuvenates, hydrates, improves energy levels, and boosts general body functions.

You’ve probably stocked up your pantry (or are planning to) with bottled water for future use. But have you ever wondered if it can ever go bad?

Bottled water is good for about 2 years, depending on the bottling method. Water doesn’t expire, but the plastic of the bottles does. For this reason, bottled water has a standard 2-year shelf life. Home-prepared bottled water should, however, last six months.

It is best to stock your water with expiration dates in mind.

If you’re thinking of preparing your own bottled water at home, this post is for you.

Read on to learn the best practices for storing bottled water for a long time.

How To Store Bottled Water Long Time

The process of storing water in bottles for a long period involves three steps:

  1. Clean and disinfect the storage containers.
  2. Disinfect the water.
  3. Store the bottled water.

I’ll discuss these steps to give you a sense of what you need to do to store your water for future use properly.

1. Clean and Disinfect the Storage Containers

To avoid water contamination, you’ll need to clean and disinfect your bottles before filling them with water. Consider following the process described below.

Here’s what you’ll need as you prepare your storage containers:

  • Warm water
  • Household Chlorine Bleach
  • Detergent
  • Scrub
  • Bottle scrub

Follow these steps to disinfect your containers:

  1. Prepare warm water.
  2. Wash the bottle’s inside with warm soapy water. Use a bottle brush to scrub the walls and bottom to remove stubborn dirt.
  3. Rinse with warm water repeatedly until soap is fully removed.
  4. Wash the outside of the bottle with warm soapy water and scrub to remove dirt.
  5. Rinse the container with clean cold water.
  6. Prepare a bleach solution. Add one teaspoonful (5ml) of household bleach to every liter (1 quart) of clean water.
  7. Pour the bleach solution into your already cleaned bottle, close the top, and swirl for a few seconds to help the solution to spread evenly throughout the container.
  8. Pour out the solution and let the bottle dry with the top off.

It is best to use plastics that are safe for foods, as they won’t transmit hazardous chemicals into the water.

Food-grade bottles include those used to hold the soft drinks, juices, milk, or water that you buy from stores.

If you have these containers at home, consider recycling them for water storage.

If you decide to purchase new storage bottles, ensure they are food safe.

To spot a food-grade bottle, check for the following indications:

  • Fork and knife symbol
  • Recycling symbol with number 2 printed beside it 
  • HDPE, LDPE, or PP markings

On the same note, avoid containers with the numbers 3, 6, or 7 printed alongside the recycling symbol.

They are made of plastics that can harm your health.

Bottles that have previously held milk or fruit juice are also not recommended. These drinks leave remnants that are tough to eliminate.

These remnants can stimulate the production of bacteria in your water.

2. Disinfect the Water

If you intend to store tap water from the city supply, you do not need to disinfect it since it’s already been treated.

However, you’ll need to decontaminate your water in the following circumstances:

  • The local government issues an urgent water disinfection order.
  • You suspect water contamination, such as sewage water leakage.
  • The water is from a well, lake, or spring.

In such cases, you can treat the water in three ways:

  • Boiling
  • Chemical treatment
  • Distillation 

Before we look at these methods, it’s worth noting that water disinfection will not be successful if large particles are present.

You’ll first need to remove the particles. Consider filtering them out using clean cloths or paper towels.

Boiling Is an Affordable Water Disinfection Method

This is the most affordable and simplest method. It employs heat to kill germs.

You’ll need a source of heat and a saucepan for the process.

Follow these steps to disinfect your water through boiling:

  1. Heat your water and leave it to boil for at least three minutes.
  2. Turn off the source of heat, cover the saucepan and leave the water to cool.
  3. Pour the cooled water into your pre-cleaned bottles. Fill the containers to the brim to eliminate any air spaces.
  4. Tightly seal the bottles for storage.

Chemical Treatment Effectively Disinfects Water

As the name suggests, this method uses germs-killing chemicals to purify water.

You can use the following chemicals to disinfect your water:

  • Household unscented bleach (6% Conc). Ensure it’s pure sodium hypochlorite without any other additives.
  • Household iodine.
  • Water disinfection tablets.

Use these steps to disinfect your water with bleach:

  1. Fill your pre-cleaned bottles with filtered water to the brim.
  2. Using a dropper, add two drops of 6% bleach to every one liter(1 quart) of water. Double the number of drops if the water looks milky or colored.
  3. Close the bottles and swirl for the chlorinated water to mix well.

You should observe a faint chlorine smell in the water. If you don’t, repeat the treatment.

If you don’t have bleach, but you do have a tincture of iodine in your medicine cupboard, consider using it. Here’s how:

  1. Pour your filtered water into your pre-cleaned containers
  2. For every liter(1 quart) of water, add five drops of iodine. Double the amount of iodine if the water is discolored.
  3. Seal the bottles and shake for water to mix well.

Note that excess use of iodine can affect your thyroid glands. Hence, use it moderately.

Finally, water purification tablets contain a myriad of disinfectants. They are sold commercially online and in physical stores. 

I use the Potable Aqua Water Purification Water Treatment Tablets from It comes as a twin pack, with each bottle containing 50 tablets. It is safe and effective.

Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets, Portable and Effective Water Purification Solution for Camping, Hiking, Emergencies, Natural Disasters and International Travel, Two 50ct Bottles, Blue
  • Two Bottles Of 50 Count Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets
  • Water Treatment Tablets, Providing Water Purification For Camping, Hiking, Traveling And Emergency Water Preparedness Situations
  • Potable Aqua Emergency Water Purification Tablets For Drinking Water Are Effective Against Giardia Lamblia When Used As Directed
  • Water Purification Tablets Make Questionable Water Bacteriologically Suitable To Drink, Even In Emergency Water Purification Situations.
  • Water Treatment Tablets Offer Emergency Water Purification For Hiking, Travel, And Natural Disasters, And Ideal To Keep With Camping Accessories

These tablets also work well during camping trips or other travels.

Simply follow the “How to use” instructions indicated on the tablets’ package for optimal efficiency.

Water Distillation Is the Most Time-Consuming Disinfectant Method

Distilled water is water vapor that has been condensed to liquid form. Distillation involves evaporation and cooling the steam to form water again (distilled water).

Although you can carry out the process at home, it is more time-consuming than the other methods.

Here’s what you’ll need for this disinfection process:

  • Stainless pot with curved lid
  • Baking rack
  • Glass bowl with a smaller circumference than that of the pot
  • Source of heat

Follow these steps to disinfect your water using the distillation method:

  1. Half-fill the pot with water.
  2. Put the baking rack inside the pot and place the glass bowl on it, ensuring it fits in the center.
  3. Invert the pot lid and cover the pot.
  4. Turn on the heat to medium-high and place the pot over it.
  5. Wait until the water starts simmering, then put ice cubes on the lid. Replace as they melt.
  6. Let the water simmer for about forty-five minutes, then turn off the heat.
  7. Leave the pot covered as it cools to form liquid water.
  8. Remove the condensed water and pour it into your clean water bottles.
  9. Seal the bottles tightly for storage.

3. Store the Bottled Water

Before you put your bottled water away for future use, consider taking the following precautions:

  • Put ‘Drinking Water’ tags on your bottles labeled with the date you bottled them. This will help you identify the water that has been kept longest to be used first.
  • Consider storing in cool, dark areas and far from direct heat. This will avoid damaging the plastic. A good spot is inside a cupboard. 
  • Store the bottles far from hazardous substances whose vapors can seep through the plastics into the water. This includes pesticides, paraffin, and cleaning detergents, among others.
  • Change the water every 6 months. Keep an eye out for bottles that are scratched or beginning to lose color.

Final Notes

Commercially produced bottled water has a general expiry time of 2 years because harmful chemicals from the degrading plastic can eventually leak into the water, causing contamination.

Home-made bottled water, on the other hand, is recommended to be used within 6 months of bottling. 

Consider preparing and storing your own water, as discussed in this post, to avoid health problems due to water contamination.

Cody Martin

With over 18 years of federal law enforcement, training, and physical security experience, Cody focuses his time nowadays on both consulting and training. He regularly advises individuals, groups, multinational corporations, schools, houses of worship, and NGOs on security threats while conducting customized training as needed.

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