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How Long Can Milk Stay Fresh in a Car?

How Long Can Milk Stay Fresh in a Car?

You just bought your milk from the grocery store and are on your way home. But before you get there, you realize you have other errands, or maybe you have encountered an accident, and now you’re stuck in traffic. Now you’re wondering how long you have until your milk goes bad.

Milk can stay fresh in your car for a maximum of two hours if the temperature is below 40 degrees F. If it’s hotter than that, your milk will last up to four hours. But if the temperature is over 90 degrees, it will only fresh for a maximum of 60 minutes.

Milk is a perishable product, meaning you shouldn’t leave it out of the fridge longer than necessary.

What Temperature is Safe for Milk?

What Temperature is Safe for Milk

Milk should always be stored at 40 degrees and below for safety reasons. The chances of your car being at that temperature are very small, especially on a hot day. To maintain freshness, try as much as possible to reduce the time your milk stays in the car.

Will Milk Remain Fresh in a Cold Car?

Shopping for milk during the cold season is great because you don’t have to rush home to refrigerate it. It can remain fresh in a cold car if the temperature is 40 degrees or below. If the car is cold, but the temperatures are above 40 degrees, don’t allow your milk to sit out for more than two hours.

Is Milk Still Good if Left in a Car Overnight?

Is Milk Still Good if Left in a Car Overnight

This has happened to the best of us. For one reason or another, you go to bed and forget you bought milk from the store. Can you still take it in the morning? It will depend.

Your milk will still be good if the car temperature was below 40 degrees. Your fridge temperature is usually set at 40 degrees anyway. It will be just like your milk that was in the fridge. However, if the temperatures are hot outside, we don’t recommend drinking that milk as it could be unsafe.

What Happens to Your Milk When You Leave it in a Hot Car?

It depends on how hot the car is and for how long. If it’s slightly hot, the milk will become warm, but you can drink it. Still, its shelf life will reduce, and it’s likely to go bad in fewer days than if it had been in the fridge. Always do a taste or smell test on warm milk to determine if it’s safe for consumption.

If the car is extremely hot and you leave your milk there for longer, it will spoil. The first sign of spoilage is the milk becoming sour and solids forming. At this stage, your milk may still be safe to consume, but it’s not palatable. Such milk can be a substitute for buttermilk or sour milk.

Never drink milk with mold or use it for any other purposes. This milk has gone bad, and you need to discard it.

How Can You Tell Your Milk Isn’t Safe After Leaving it in the Car

How Can You Tell Your Milk Isn't Safe After Leaving it in the Car

Maybe you left your milk in the car for longer than you wanted to and are wondering if it’s safe to take it. Below are the signs to watch out for.

  • Appearance: Does the milk appear green or has chunks? It has curdled and isn’t fresh anymore
  • Smell: If the milk still appears fresh, sniff it. A strange or sour odor indicates the milk has gone bad
  • Taste: Spoiled milk will have a sour taste. If the milk tastes off, throw it away.

How to Ensure Your Milk Stays Fresh for Longer When Not in the Fridge

How to Ensure Your Milk Stays Fresh for Longer When Not in the Fridge

Here are some tips to help you maintain your milk’s freshness when not in the fridge.

Plan Your Shopping Trip


If you have many errands, including grocery shopping, let shopping be the last thing on your list. That means your milk won’t sit in the car longer than necessary. And if you can, avoid shopping during rush hours to escape traffic.

Don’t Pack Under Direct Sunlight

Don't Pack Under Direct Sunlight


Parking under the sun heats your car, which increases the chances of your milk spoiling. Instead, park under a tree or use a window sunshade to keep the car cool.

Shop and Pack Strategically

Shop and Pack Strategically

Pick cold items like milk last. Your milk will be out of the fridge for a short time. When packing, bag your milk with other frozen or refrigerated foods. For instance, frozen peas will help keep the milk colder. Don’t put too many items together, as this prevents air circulation, and the items get warm.

For hot days, carry insulated bags for your milk. When you go inside the store, bring your insulated bag. Leaving it in the car will warm it up, reducing its effectiveness.

Don’t Place Your Milk in the Trunk

Don't Place Your Milk in the Trunk

The trunk is the hottest part of your car and has no airflow. Store your milk on the seats or floor to keep it cool.

Related Questions

Can I Leave Milk in the Car During Winter?

You can leave the milk in the car if the temperatures are between 32 and 40 degrees. However, once the temperatures go below 32 degrees, the milk will start freezing.

Also, it depends on where you store your car. It may be winter, but your car is in an insulated garage. That means it will be warm there, and your milk might spoil.

How Long Can Milk Stay Out of the Fridge?

According to the US Department of Agriculture, milk can last about two hours outside the fridge. If left out for longer than that, it’s likely to go bad.