How long does vinegar last?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “How long does vinegar last?” and methods to store vinegar efficiently.

How long does vinegar last?

Vinegar can last for an indefinite period of time. Due to its acidity, vinegar can stay at room temperature and does not require refrigeration. Loss of taste or smell of vinegar depends on how frequently it is opened and inappropriate storage conditions.

Unopened vinegar can stay in proper condition in the pantry for more than five years whereas opened vinegar can stay for more than two years. Vinegar does not expire per se but can lose its smell and acidity.

You can also look at the best by date label present on the vinegar.

Type of vinegarStays in the best condition
Distilled white vinegarIndefinite period of time
Rice vinegar2 years
Balsamic vinegar3 years
Apple cider vinegar5 years
Red/ white wine vinegar2 years

How is vinegar prepared?

Vinegar is prepared through the fermentation of alcohol into acetic acid. Vinegar bacteria, heat, oxygen, and alcohol are used to prepare vinegar. Water can be added to dilute the alcohol added to vinegar.

At appropriate temperature, vinegar. The bacteria would work on the wine and turn it into vinegar. Fermentation could take weeks or months to complete. Traditional vinegar could be aged for years. This helps in the development of flavor.

Does vinegar lose its acidity over time?

Yes, the acidity of vinegar reduces over a period of time. Vinegar can react with the water content in the air which could reduce its acidity. The acetic acid present in vinegar reduces over a period of time.

What changes can you observe in vinegar over time?

  • Vinegar can lose its acidity over time leading to a reduced flavor.
  • If the color of the vinegar changes to yellow, black, or red it could indicate a decline in quality.
  • If the vinegar appears cloudy or sediments are floating on top of the vinegar, it indicates a reduction in quality.

How to store vinegar?

  • Vinegar should be kept away from sunlight. The ultraviolet rays in sunlight can alter the bacteria present in vinegar or its taste. Instead, keep it in a cool and dry place.
  • Keep vinegar in its original bottle. Do not transfer it.
  • Close the bottle of vinegar immediately after using it.
  • Store vinegar away from places like a stove as vinegar requires a stable and constant temperature. Vinegar does not require refrigeration.
  • Flavored vinegar might need to be changed after five to six years.

Other FAQs about vinegar which you may be interested in.

What is the mother of vinegar and is it harmful?

Mother of vinegar is a gelatinous substance that develops on top of the vinegar. It can be filtered out easily.  It is a mixture of cellulose and bacteria formed in the acetic acid of vinegar.

It is usually found in fermented alcohols or unpasteurized vinegar and gives them a cloudy appearance. It is harmless.

What is the difference between white vinegar and cleaning vinegar?

Cleaning vinegar has higher acidity compared to white vinegar as cleaning vinegar is used for cleaning purposes. Cleaning vinegar has 6% acidity. White vinegar is used for cooking and has an acidity rate of 5%. Cleaning vinegar is not safe to consume.

Can I use vinegar for pickling or canning?

Yes, vinegar with at least 5% acidity would be safe to use for pickling or canning. Make sure to use fresh vinegar though. If the vinegar is cloudy, changes its color, or has lost its smell or taste, avoid using that vinegar. 

If the vinegar shows any signs of condensation or if sediments are floating over it, avoid using it for canning or pickling.

What can vinegar be used for?

  • Vinegar can be added to salad dressings, tea, or marinades.
  • Cleaning vinegar can be used to clean bathroom floors, laundry, or glass windows.
  • Rust in tools can be removed by dipping the tools in vinegar.
  • You can spray apple cider vinegar along with sugar to your flower vase. This will extend the shelf-life of flowers.
  • You can spray vinegar in your home garden to remove the weeds.
  • Carpet or shirt stains can be removed by spraying vinegar onto them.
  • Washing vegetables and fruits using apple cider vinegar can help in removing the pesticide content.


In this brief guide, we have answered the question, “How long does vinegar last?” and methods to store vinegar efficiently.