Can flour go bad? (+3 storage practices)

In this article, we will answer the question “Can flour go bad?”, and how to tell if the flour has gone bad?

Can flour go bad?

Yes, flour can go bad. Although flour is a shelf-stable food commodity, if handled and stored improperly, it can support mold growth or go rancid. Read on if you want to know how to store flour to prevent it from going bad.

The shelf-life of flour

Whole-grain flours, due to higher oil content, than the regular flours, degrade quickly. Whole wheat flour contains germ, bran, and endosperm while white flour has bran and germ removed during processing. Bran and germ are the oil-rich parts of a seed. 

Some gluten-free flours like coconut and almond flour are also high in fats, thus more susceptible to rancidity than white flour.

Flour can last weeks and months past the best-by date printed on its label. How long the flour stays good past its best-by date depends on how the flour was produced and what is its source ingredient. The following table shows an estimated shelf-life of different types of flour.

Type of flourStored in pantryStored in fridge/freezer
All-purpose flour1 year2 year
Bread flour 6 months 1 year
Gluten-free flours(buckwheat,banana, coconut,nut,oat,rice etc)3 months6 months-1 year
Oat flour3 months6 months
Self-rising flour4-6 months1 year
White whole wheat flour3 months6 months 
Whole-wheat flour1-3 months6 months- 1 year

Types of flour

White flour and whole wheat flour are the traditional varieties of flour. Brown rice flour, buckwheat flour, coconut flour, amaranth, sorghum, and oat flours are some famous varieties of gluten-free flours and are great alternatives for people who have a gluten allergy.

Among the gluten-free variety, buckwheat flour has the shortest shelf-life. While coconut flour hs the longest shelf-life period.

How to store flour?

  1. An unopened flour package should be stored in a cool and dry place in the pantry or a kitchen cabinet. 
  2. After opening the package, transfer the flour to an air-tight or a flip-flop container. If you do not use the flour very often, it can also be stored in the fridge and freezer to extend its shelf-life. 
  3. When refrigerating and freezing, make sure the flour package is protected against moisture. Use a heavy-duty freezer bag to store flour in the freezer. Lower temperatures work best for gluten-free flours like coconut and almond flour.

Other FAQs about Flour which you may be interested in.

Can out-of-date flour make you sick?

Can you get sick from eating expired flour?

What does Corn flour look like?

How to tell if the flour has gone bad?

The best-by dates on the flour packages do not indicate the safety of the flour. They just provide you a rough estimate of how long the product will stay of its prime quality. If the flour is approaching its expiration date or way past its expiry, turn the flour into playdough or make homemade glue out of it.

  1. Fresh flour does not have a particular smell. Therefore, If your flour smells musty, stale, sour, or rancid, it is time to toss it in the bin. Products made from such flour will have an undesirable taste.
  2. If the flour is clumpy and there are obvious signs of mold growth, throw it out immediately. This usually happens when the flour has been in contact with water.

However, if you have noticed weevils in your flour, you can get rid of them immediately and use the flour. Freezing or refrigerating the flour helps to kill the bug eggs and adults. Follow the steps below if you want to find out if the flour has weevils.

  1. Fill a glass with flour.
  2. Press the flout to tightly pack it inside the glass. The surface of the flour should be leveled and smooth.
  3. Leave the glass in a warm and bright area. If the surface of the flour is disturbed, it means the flour has weevils.

After killing the bugs by refrigerating or freezing the flour, sift the flour using a fine sieve to remove the dead larvae and eggs.

What happens If I use expired flour?

There is not much scientific evidence to support the theory that using rancid flour is injurious to health. However, rancidity does change the structure of the molecules. 

Eating products made with moldy flour can lead to food poisoning which is reflected in diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Moldy flour contains mycotoxins produced by the fungus and are not destroyed even at cooking or baking temperatures.

If the duration of exposure and the amount were sufficient enough, mycotoxins can also lead to cancer and liver diseases.


In this article, we answered the question “Can flour go bad?”, and how to tell if the flour has gone bad?


Hello, I'm Sana Ameer. I'm a student of Food Science and Technology at UVAS. I like to bake and I aspire to become a Food blogger.