Does Vinegar Go Bad?

Does vinegar go bad or not? You may notice that vinegar changes color over time, but what does that mean? How should you store vinegar? Here's a guide.

You open your bottle of vinegar in the pantry and it looks unclear. This makes you wonder:

Does vinegar bad? How would I know if it’s off? Should I even keep it in the pantry or the fridge?

Well, the good news is that vinegar has an indefinite shelf-life and can keep for a long time because it’s a fermented product.

It can be stored in your pantry and cupboard for many years without going off.

Related:Does Apple Cider Vinegar Go Bad?Does Balsamic Vinegar Go Bad?Does Red Wine Vinegar Go Bad?

How Should I Store Vinegar?

apple cider vinegar next to apples

Due to vinegar’s acidic nature, it is self-preserving and doesn’t need to be refrigerated even when opened. The best way to store vinegar is in your pantry, whether the bottle is open or not!

One thing to remember – always reseal your vinegar tightly after using it. Your vinegar will not go bad on its own – but if bugs or bacteria get in there, it’s another story.

What If I See Bits In My Vinegar?

balsamic vinegar in a jug

Distilled vinegar can go unchanged for many years. However, sedimentation can occur in other vinegars, like apple cider vinegar, causing bits to form in the vinegar.

But don’t worry – this is just an aesthetic defect. Your vinegar is perfectly fine.

As mentioned, vinegar does not go bad, but it might lose some of its quality over the years, especially if it was not stored properly.

Vinegar is often sold in a filtered format which means the ‘mother of vinegar’ has been removed. However, once you open the bottle and keep it in your pantry for years, the mother might form again. This is nothing to be concerned about as the mother is a natural byproduct of making vinegar.

Different Types Of Vinegar

pouring red wine vinegar into food

There are several different types of vinegar, as listed below, but all of them basically last indefinitely and should be stored similarly.

  • Apple cider vinegar – most common household vinegar that can be used in a wide range of dishes
  • White vinegar – crispy and clear in color and often used as a pickling agent
  • Balsamic vinegar – used mostly for salads
  • Rice vinegar – used in a lot of Asian cuisines and marinades
  • Malt vinegar – it’s the preferred condiment for fish and chips


Thanks to vinegar’s acidic nature, it can keep indefinitely in your pantry without going off. Sediments will form over the years, especially if it’s not stirred or shaken for a while, but this is nothing to be alarmed about.

While white vinegar can stay unchanged for many years, other versions of vinegar might change color – but again, this isn’t a cause for concern.

Remember, store vinegar in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources, and always keep a tight lid on the bottle.

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Alisa Shimoyama

Alisa eats her way around the world on her travels and likes to have good food ready and waiting for her when she gets back.