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How Long Can Milk Sit Out: The Ultimate Guide To Milk

Maria Foster
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by Maria Foster

If you enjoy a cold glass of milk with your cookies or a delicious bowl of cereal served with fresh milk you’re one of many!

How Long Can Milk Sit Out

If this sounds familiar, you will need to be careful how long you let your milk sit out!

There are many different safety standards that you can go by to figure out whether the milk that you have left out is safe. 

Milk should not be left out of the refrigerator for longer than two hours at room temperature.

If the temperature in the room is higher than 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the milk will be spoiled if it is left out for longer than 1 hour. Let’s take a look at this in more detail!

What Temperature Is It Safe To Keep Milk At?

The ideal temperature for milk to be stored is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the ideal temperature for milk to be stored at.

Keeping your cow’s milk at this temperature will mean that your milk will not spoil as quickly, and it will maximize the shelf life of the milk.

How Should You Store Milk?

The best way to store milk to keep it fresh is in the refrigerator. The fridge is usually kept at a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.

Keeping the milk at this temperature will help to prolong the life of the milk and prevent it from spoiling quickly. 

It is possible to freeze milk if you would like it to last longer.

Where In The Refrigerator Should You Store Milk?

It is best to store milk in the interior of the refrigerator, near the bottom. This is because it is the coldest place in the refrigerator.

Lots of people store their milk in the door of the refrigerator.

However, this is not the best place to store the milk as every time the door is opened, there is a warm draft of air that hits the milk. This is one of the warmest parts of the refrigerator.

What Is The Best Way To Store Milk?

The best way to store milk is in the refrigerator or the freezer. You shouldn’t leave your milk at room temperature for too long as milk that is kept at this temperature will spoil.

It is a good idea to pick up the milk from the store last and put it in the refrigerator as soon as possible.

If you have a long journey between the grocery store and your home, then you may need to transport it using an ice pack and cooler. This is especially important during the warmer months.

How Long Will Milk Last When It Has Been Opened?

Milk will last varying lengths of time depending on where the milk is stored and how fresh it is.

If you store your milk in a refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or less, it can last between 7 and 10 days.

How Long Can You Leave Milk Out Of The Refrigerator For?

You should not leave milk out of the refrigerator for longer than two hours.

If milk is left out for more than 2 hours, it shouldn’t be consumed as it may have gone off. Milk should not be consumed after this time, and should be disposed of. 

How Can You Tell If Milk Is Going Bad?

Your different senses will let you know if milk is going bad. These include:


If the milk does not look white anymore, then it has gone off. Gone-off milk may appear green, contain chunks, or be curdled. If this happens, the milk will have soured and should be thrown away.


If you’re unsure if the milk has gone bad or not, you should remove the lid and take a sniff. If the milk smells sour or strange, it should be thrown away as it has spoiled.


If you taste the milk and it tastes sour or different from how you usually take it, then it is probably bad. Stop consuming the milk immediately and throw it away! 

So, to tell if milk has gone bad you should smell it, taste it or look at it. Doing any of these things will be able to indicate to you whether the milk has gone bad.

Should Anyone Consume 2-Hour-Old Milk?

If you’re not sure whether you or your friends and family should consume the milk, it is better to throw it out! No one should consume any milk that has been left out for over 2 hours. 

If you are in a very hot room, then you should not consume milk that has been left out for over 1 hour. This is if the room temperature is higher than 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

What Happens If You Drink Bad Milk?

In some cases, taking a sip of bad milk will not react with your body. However, if you continue to drink bad milk, you may start to experience some symptoms.

You might experience headaches, a fever, or an upset stomach. These symptoms are signs that you have developed food poisoning.

The symptoms that occur from consuming bad milk can be much more severe for children whose immune systems are much weaker, than adults who have a much stronger immune system.

Is The Shelf Life Of Milk The Same For All Types Of Milk?

Shelf life is very different depending on the type of milk that you are focussing on.

The main type of milk that we are looking at in this article is cow’s milk, but different types of milk do have different shelf lives.

Cow’s milk shouldn’t be left out for longer than two hours. This is the case whether the milk has been previously opened or not.

When you leave milk out at room temperature, bacteria will start to grow more rapidly. Drinking milk that has grown bacteria will increase your risk of becoming sick if it is consumed.

Organic Milk: How Long Does It Last?

How Long Can Milk Sit Out

If you store organic milk properly, it can last between 40 and 60 days if it is unopened. This is the case if the milk is refrigerated at 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you have opened your organic milk, you will need to consume it within 7-10 days from the time that it is opened. 

Organic milk lasts a lot longer than fresh cow’s milk because it has been ultra-pasteurized.

This means that it undergoes a rapid heat treatment for 2 seconds where it is blasted with heat reaching 280 degrees Fahrenheit.

This will kill much more bacteria within the milk which will extend the expiration date of the milk.

Raw Milk: How Long Does It Last?

Raw milk will last around 7-14 days in the refrigerator. If this milk shows any signs of souring, you should throw it away.

Can Milk Last A Month In The Refrigerator?

Organic milk can last for up to one month! However, this is only if it remains unopened.

This milk has been ultra-pasteurized, meaning it has been treated with a rapid heat treatment. This means that it will not go off as quickly.

How Long Can Breast Milk Sit Out For?

Breast milk can sit out for up to 4 hours at room temperature. It can last longer than this if it is stored in the refrigerator.

You will need to ensure that this milk is sealed properly to prevent it from coming into contact with anything harmful.

It should be stored in the refrigerator if you want to lengthen the shelf life of the milk.

How Long Can Whole Milk Be Left In A Cup?

If you have prepared some whole milk for your toddler, you should ensure that if your child is not drinking the milk at the time, it is stored in the refrigerator.

If you have left it out, it should not be left for longer than 2 hours. If you have left the milk out for longer than this, you should throw it away. 

You mustn’t give soured milk to children as they are more sensitive to food poisoning than adults. This is because their immune system is weaker.

How Long Can You Keep Milk In The Freezer For?

You can freeze milk for up to 6 weeks. If you leave it for any longer than this, the flavor and freshness of the milk may be compromised.

The best way to freeze milk is by placing it in its original packaging in the freezer before the milk expires. It is very easy to freeze milk!

Can You Leave Milk Out Overnight?

No. You should not leave milk out overnight as this can mean that it is at risk of making you sick. It is unsafe to drink milk that was left out overnight.

Milk that has been left out overnight will have gone bad and has had the chance to grow harmful bacteria. You should throw milk away that has been left out.

Drinking milk that has been left out may cause food poisoning, which can result in an upset stomach, headache, or fever.

How Long Can You Leave Shelf-Stable Milk Out For?

If you purchase milk that is sold at room temperature in the grocery store, then you do not need to refrigerate it in the same way. 

If shelf-stable milk is left unopened and is within its sell-by date, it will be safe for around 6 months.

This milk has been processed specifically using ultra-high-temperature pasteurization techniques. 

Once opened, this milk should be consumed within 10 days and kept in the refrigerator. However, before this, it does not need to be refrigerated.

If you notice that milk in Europe is not kept in the refrigerator, this is because it goes through a different pasteurization method that allows the milk to be stored at room temperature.

This means that regardless of whether the milk is open or not, it can be kept out of the fridge without going bad. 

This milk will also have a much longer shelf life than cow’s milk. 

Why Does Milk Go Bad?

Milk goes bad because it is a perishable product. Over time, it will rot and spoil. You can tell if milk has gone bad by the smell, taste, or look of the milk.

Milk will spoil a lot quicker if you leave it out of the refrigerator.

How Long Will It  Take For Milk To Spoil Out Of The Fridge?

It is recommended that you do not leave the milk out of the refrigerator for longer than two hours.

This will mean that the milk is likely to have spoiled, despite not showing any visible signs that it has been spoiled. In this case, you should throw the milk away anyway.

Almond Milk: How Long Can It Sit Out?

Similarly to cow’s milk, you should not leave almond milk out of the refrigerator for longer than two hours.

This is because, after two hours, this milk may have grown bacteria meaning that it will spoil.

Does The Temperature Affect How Long Milk Can Sit Out For?

If your milk has been left out of the refrigerator, no matter what the temperature is, it should not be left out for longer than two hours.

This is the case if it is left at 50 degrees Fahrenheit or 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature is over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, then it will go bad if it is left for an hour.

If you have accidentally left your milk out overnight, then it is important to throw this milk away.

As it will have been at room temperature for a long period. In this case, you will need to dispose of the bad milk.

How Long Does It Take For Milk To Get To Room Temperature?

The answer to this question varies depending on how warm the milk was originally, how warm the room is, and other factors.

No matter what, it shouldn’t be left out at room temperature for longer than two hours.

How Long Can You Leave Boiled Milk Out For?

If you leave milk out that has been boiled, it will last longer out of the refrigerator. If you are drinking raw milk that you have boiled, it can be left out for around 4 hours.

If you are drinking milk that has been pasteurized and boiled this can be kept at room temperature for 7 hours!

How To Store Milk If You Don’t Have Refrigerator Access?

If you do not have immediate access to a refrigerator, then you will need to make sure that it is stored in a cooler or thermos to keep it cool.

If you have access to a freezer, then it is a good idea to freeze the milk.

Does Milk Go Bad If Your Power Cuts Off?

If you lose power for longer than two hours, then your milk should be thrown away as it may have gone bad. This is because your refrigerator will have turned off.

If your power is going to be out for long, you will need to move the milk to a cooler so that it can stay cool and fresh.

How Can You Keep Your Milk Fresh For A Long Time?

How Long Can Milk Sit Out

There are lots of ways that you can keep your milk as fresh as possible for as long as possible. These include: 

Choose Milk Last 

When you’re in the grocery store, you will want to pick up your milk last.

Do this after you have done all of your other shopping so that it doesn’t have to stay out at room temperature for a long time.

It will need to be out on the journey home from the grocery store, and this is long enough.


It is ideal to store your milk in the coldest part of the refrigerator. This is usually near the bottom and not in the door. The door gets blasted with cold air every time the refrigerator is opened.


Milk should be kept at a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or less. This will help when it comes to prolonging the shelf life of the milk and ensuring that it doesn’t spoil. 


If you are looking for milk that has a long shelf life, it is best to choose pasteurized milk. This milk will last a lot longer than raw milk.

What Happens If You Drink Spoiled Milk?

Most people are turned off by sour milk because of the foul smell and taste. For this reason, you will rarely drink milk that has spoiled.

However, if you do end up drinking spoiled milk, it can cause food poisoning so it should be avoided where possible! 

Food poisoning may result in stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.

In most cases, you won’t need to worry if you drink small sips of spoiled milk, but you should avoid drinking it in large quantities.

Spoiled Vs Sour Milk

Spoiled and sour milk are usually terms that are used interchangeably.

They are used to describe milk that has gone bad, but there are small differences between the two. This will depend on who you ask.

In most cases, spoiled milk refers to milk that is off due to the growth of bacteria. This will smell and taste off depending on the pasteurization process.

This bacteria is not considered to be health-promoting and it could end up making you sick.

Sour milk is usually used to describe milk that has not been pasteurized. This type of milk is usually raw and it will ferment over time. This fermentation process will lead to bacteria growing in the milk. 

In a very small number of cases, this bacteria is considered to be probiotic which can offer some health benefits. However, in most cases, these benefits don’t outweigh the risks.

What Happens If You Drink Too Much Milk?

Drinking too much milk can have many negative effects on your health. These include: 

Frequent Bone Breaks 

If you suffer frequent bone breaks, you should consider drinking less milk.

While milk is often seen to be a way to improve the strength of your bones, drinking too much can have the opposite effect. Drinking too much milk can cause an increase in brittle bones and bone breaks.

High Blood Sugar Levels 

Milk spikes your glucose levels in the same way that certain chocolate bars would. Because of this, you may feel less energized after downing milk as it can result in energy slumps.

Skin Problems 

If you drink a lot of milk, this has been linked to certain skin problems, including breakouts.

Dairy is known to increase the occurrence of acne, and it is important to consider this if you are drinking large quantities of milk. 

Dairy can also make your skin much more oily, especially on the face. This can result in more acne. 

Heart Health 

Milk is fairly high in fat, especially if you like to drink whole milk. This milk can clog up your arteries. It also contains cholesterol which increases your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

In certain cases, cutting down on milk will be advised if you suffer from poor heart health.

Low Immune System 

If you find yourself catching every cold that goes around, you will want to reassess how much dairy you consume.

Dairy products can cause inflammation in your gut which can affect your immune health. This can also cause gastrointestinal conditions.

Digestive Problems 

If you have persistent gastrointestinal problems, this could be closely linked to your dairy consumption.

If you consume a large amount of milk it can cause severe bloating which can disturb your body.

Memory Problems 

If you want to maintain a sharp memory, you might want to consider the amount of milk that you consume each day.

Studies have found that adults who drink more milk are more likely to fail these tests than those who don’t drink any milk. 

Adults who drink more than a glass of milk each day were found to experience a 10% greater cognitive decline than those who don’t consume any milk.

What Is Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is when you consume food containing lactose and you have symptoms following this.

For instance, you might experience tummy pain after you eat food that contains lactose. Lactose is found in dairy products. 

If you suffer from this, then you can prevent the symptoms by reducing the amount of food that you consume that contains lactose. 

If you have lactose intolerance you may experience tummy pain and discomfort after eating dairy.

You may also experience bloating, sickness and diarrhea, or constipation. Some people will experience long-lasting symptoms. 

These symptoms include headaches, joint pain, tiredness, and difficulty concentrating.

Final Thoughts 

So, there you have it! You should not leave milk to sit out for longer than 2 hours at room temperature.

This is because it will be likely to develop bacteria at that time that can lead to food poisoning, and no one wants that! 

To avoid food poisoning, you should now have all the information you need to ensure that you store your milk correctly and are not drinking spoiled milk.

After reading this article, you will now be an expert on the topic!

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Can You Leave Milk Out For?

You shouldn’t leave milk out for longer than two hours at a time. If you do, this could result in the milk going sour and it could cause food poisoning if you drink milk that has gone bad. 

Where Should You Store Your Milk?

Milk is best when it is stored in the refrigerator. It will stay fresh for much longer if it is kept cool.

It is best to keep it in the coolest part of the refrigerator, which is usually in the bottom. Avoid keeping the milk in the door as this will hit warm air every time the refrigerator is opened.

Can You Freeze Milk?

You can freeze milk and it can stay in the freezer for up to 6 weeks. Simply place the milk in the freezer in the same carton that it was purchased in. 

Can You Leave Milk Out Overnight?

You should not leave milk out overnight. If you do, you will need to throw this milk away as it may have spoiled overnight.

It needs to be kept in cool temperatures in the refrigerator or the freezer and should not be left at room temperature for over two hours. 

What Happens If You Leave Milk Out Overnight?

Leaving milk out overnight at room temperature will cause the milk to go bad. If it goes bad, it will have a sour taste and smell.

It may also curdle. You should not consume milk that has been left out of the refrigerator overnight. 

How Can You Tell If Your Milk Has Gone Bad?

Your milk will have a sour smell and taste if it has gone bad. Sometimes, it may also curdle. It can turn a green color, too.

If you suspect that your milk has gone bad or it has been left out of the refrigerator for over two hours, you should not consume it as it can make you unwell. 

About Maria Foster
Maria Foster
Maria Foster is a mother of 3 and she and her husband of 23 years share their home with 2 faithful dogs. Besides being CEO of the household and active in her community, Maria is the lead contributor to Food Champs and loves to try new food ideas and kitchen accessories to make easier and more delicious meals.
Maria Foster
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