sugar go bad

Does Sugar Go Bad? The Ultimate Guide to Its Shelf Life

Quick summary: No, sugar does not go bad in terms of spoilage or mold, but it can degrade in quality and flavor. Proper storage in a cool, dry place away from moisture and heat and keeping it tightly closed in an airtight container, can ensure its longevity. Expired sugar is safe to eat as long as it’s stored well.

You have probably learned from your grandmother how products containing a lot of sugar are difficult to spoil. It’s because sweet food supplements are not a very desirable habitat for bacteria by nature. In fact, sugar prevents bacteria from developing. To clear up the issues immediately – sugar can last for decades. Still, there are some preconditions for this. 

To stretch the maximum duration of sugar, you need to make an effort to keep it in favorable conditions. A source of moisture or other inconveniences can spoil sugar just like any other food. Therefore, it is indescribably essential that you store it in the right way. 

If you are uncertain if you have followed proper storage or handling and if the product is still edible, here’s how you can recognize spoiled sugar. 

How Long Does Sugar Last?

As we have already concluded, this answer could go in both directions. Therefore, if it is entirely pure and you keep it in the right conditions, it can truly last forever. But if unfavorable conditions come into contact, it may impair its stability.   

White Sugar

For white sugar, all the guidelines that are already given apply. Feel free to ignore the expiration date written on the packaging, as the product will be good a long time past it. It can last for decades in good conditions and will not spoil.      

Brown Sugar

Brown sugar will also be suitable for a very long time, just like the white type. Therefore it will not spoil in the classical sense of the word. However, it is best to use it within two years because it is much more susceptible to external influences. It can harden and change texture over time. 

Can Sugar Go Bad?

Even though there is a long shelf life and best by date for packaged product, sugar cannot spoil in a sense you are accustomed to with another food. However, certain circumstances will make it inedible and even dangerous to consume because of possible food poisoning. 

So does sugar expire? Here are some indicators that it would be good to throw the sweetener in the trash. This also applies to caster sugar, powdered sugar, granulated sugar and raw sugar.

Sign 1: Moisture got to it

Moisture is one of the biggest enemies of sugar durability. In addition to changing its texture to lumpy sugar, moisture will be a naturally desirable habitat for mold. 

If you notice mold or some undefined fibers that look like cobwebs, throw the product in the trash. Certain types of mold can actually cause food poisoning.   

Sign 2: There are insects in it

Whether they are still alive or not, throw it in the trash right away if you notice insects in the sugar. In no case is such a product desirable for consumption.  

Sign 3: It has a strange smell

In some cases, there can be changes in the sugar that are not visible to the naked eye, but you will notice an unusual odor. This again can mean that mold has appeared, but you just don’t see it. 

Mostly, anything you notice that is unusual, for the sake of your safety, rather throw the product in the trash. 

What Is The Best Way To Store Sugar?

Without this sweet addition to meals, you can hardly imagine your day—from your first coffee in the morning to desserts and other specialties. 

Since sugar is one of the foods we buy in larger quantities and keep in the pantry, following a few simple rules is important. Here’s how to ensure that the product lasts for years. Luckily storing sugar is an effortless task.   

Tip 1: Avoid damp places 

Make sure the sugar is in a cool and dry place where it will not be compromised by moisture. Any kind of moisture will not be good and can mean the beginning of spoilage or fungus formation. You can also use a food processor or a mixer to get rid of the sugar lumps if they become hardened and form lumps

Tip 2: Keep it away from heat

Although the room should be dry and not too cold, keeping the product close to a heat source is not good for any long term food storage. The heat can also begin to melt the sugar and change its texture and durability.   

Tip 3: Keep it tightly closed

Insects like to settle in products like sugar, flour, etc. These are attractive habitats for them. So it is good to keep the products tightly closed in an airtight container. After opening the package, try to put sugar in a bowl with a lid to prevent insects from reaching it, especially if you leave sugar sitting on the counter.   


How can you tell if your sugar is bad?

You can tell if your sugar is bad if it becomes clumpy, discolored, or develops an off smell, indicating moisture absorption. Otherwise, sugar generally doesn’t spoil and remains safe to consume.

Is it okay to eat expired sugar?

Yes, it’s okay to eat expired sugar. It is entirely safe to use sugar even years after the expiration date written on the package. The only thing that matters is that it was kept in good condition.

How long can sugar be stored?

Sugar can be stored indefinitely if kept in a dry and airtight container, as it doesn’t spoil. However, over time, it might clump due to moisture absorption, but this can often be easily remedied by breaking up the clumps.

How long is brown sugar good for?

Brown sugar can be good for an extended period if stored in an airtight container to prevent moisture absorption. It’s generally safe to use for 2 years, but it might become hard or clumpy over time.

Does sugar go bad after 5 years?

No, sugar does not go bad after 5 years as long as it’s stored in a dry, airtight container to prevent moisture absorption. It can remain usable for an indefinite period if stored properly.


Sugar is one of those foods you can store in large quantities ten years in advance if you wish. Even if you come across an abandoned house that no one has used for decades, packing sugar is likely the only edible food in it. Therefore, sugar cannot be spoiled and has indefinite shelf life. 

However, this does not mean that you do not need to pay a little attention to it and place it in favorable conditions because external parasites such as insects or mold appearance can spoil even the most durable granulated white sugar. Follow our tips on storing the product and enjoy its sweetness in your baking recipes as long as you want. 

See more:

About The Author

Scroll to Top