Do Onions Go Bad? Here’s All You Should Know

Onion is one of the many ingredients that help to enhance the taste of a meal. However, you can only get the best of your onions if you store them properly to prevent them from getting spoiled.

Onions are perishable food items from the allium family, which also include chives and garlic. These vegetables add flavors to food and have medicinal properties. 

Onion contains calcium, iron, folate, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and antioxidant properties. It provides several health benefits when consumed fresh.

This article will enlighten you on how onions can go bad, how to tell if your onions are bad, and how to prevent them from going bad for as long as possible. 

Do onions go bad?

Yes, onions go bad when they are not stored properly. Like every other edible item, an onion will go bad over time. However, you can preserve your onion for it to last longer. 

Usually, an onion can last up to three months when stored properly in good condition. However, certain circumstances can make an onion mold even after preserving it. Even if they don’t mold, they can dry up and go bad.

Preserved or not, onions will eventually go bad. Storing them properly will only help to prolong their shelf life and make them enjoyable. How soon your onion goes bad depends on whether they are whole or sliced.

Do onions go bad faster in the fridge?

Storing your onions in a fridge can make them go bad faster. This is because of the exposure to cold, humid temperatures.

The onion will absorb moisture and become mushy. While other foods can stay good in a refrigerator, keep your onion out of it.

The humid condition can also convert starch to sugar, making the onions soft and soggy. Rather than store your onion in a refrigerator, keep them in a cool dry place instead to maintain their texture for up to 30 days. 

However, you can refrigerate scallions and green onions since they have high water content. Putting them in the fridge will not make them go bad quickly.

What is the shelf life of onions?

Under proper storage conditions, onions have a shelf life of 3 months. It can last up to 6 months if you store them in a clean mesh basket that has enough room for air circulation.

Storing your onions in a plastic bag will drastically reduce their shelf life. Avoid it.

Can you eat bad onions?

No, you shouldn’t eat bad onions. Once you notice that your onions are no longer firm and fresh, toss them. 

Eating bad onions puts you at risk of food-borne diseases. Ensure you use your onion before it goes bad.

How to tell if an onion is bad

You can easily tell if your onion is bad just by looking at it. Once onions become bad, they show brown, black, or soft spots on the surface. 

When you touch your onion and notice a soft spot on it, quickly cut off the soft spot and use the good part immediately. Otherwise, the soft spot in the onion will develop mold and make the whole onion go bad. 

Another sign that your onion is bad is the presence of sprouts. When your onion develops sprouts and becomes soft and mushy, toss them into the bin. It is already bad and no longer safe for eating. 

Usually, your onion should be moist with dry and papery skin. If it looks or feels different from this, then it is starting to become bad. 

Moreso, the smell of a rotten or bad onion is like rotting compost. If your onion smells like that, toss it into your bin.

How to preserve onions

The best way to preserve an onion is to store it properly. Proper storage helps you eat healthier and prevent waste. Every of the following preservative tips will help you extend the shelf life of your onion. 

1. Store in a dry room

You can preserve your onions by storing them whole at room temperature. Storing your onions in a cool, dark, and dry place will keep them good and edible for as long as possible. 

2. Store onions in tights

You can also store your onion inside your nylon stockings. This can extend the shelf life of your onion up to 8 months. The stocking will keep them in fresh hair without squishing them against each other.

3. Don’t store in plastic bags

Plastic bags restrict airflow on the inside and encourage sprouting. Therefore, avoid storing your onion in plastic bags. 

4. Don’t store in the fridge

Store in a dark, cool place, not a cold place. Therefore, keep your onion out of the fridge. Keeping your onion inside the fridge will make the onion soften too quickly. It will also give off its scents to everything else in the fridge. 

5. Store them in mesh baskets

Another way to preserve your onion is by storing it in mesh baskets or bags. You can also purchase paper bags that have holes. If you can’t purchase one, simply use a belt hole maker to create holes in any available paper bag.

6. Store peeled onion in the freezer

You can always freeze your onions, either peeled or whole onions. You can even cook the onions before freezing them. Place the onion in an airtight container and place it in your freezer.

7. Don’t store onions together in a large bag

Avoid squishing large quantities of onions together in one large bag. Spread them out in a tray instead. You can also add holes to the bag for air to penetrate and keep your onion from getting bad.

8. Dry them out before storing

Ensure that you dry out your onion before storing them. Storing your onion with moisture will make them develop mold and go bad quickly.


Can onions sit at room temperature?

Yes, they can. You can leave your onion at room temperature for a few days. However, the onions may absorb moisture and go bad or rot after a few days.

Do onions go bad in heat?

Yes, they do. Keeping your onions at temperatures higher than 50°F can make them go bad. 

A little temperature difference can do all the damage to your onion. The onion will sprout in heat while exposure to cold humidity can cause them to become moldy.

Do unpeeled onions go bad?

Yes, they do. But only after a while. An unpeeled onion has a longer lifespan compared to a peeled one. However, they will still go bad after their shelf life period. 

A whole onion can last two weeks or more if you store them properly.

Can an onion make potatoes go bad?

Yes, it can. This is why you should not store your onion and potato together. 

Storing the two vegetables together can cause the potatoes to ripen quickly and rot. This is because an onion produces ethylene gas that can speed up the ripening process of the potato.


Like every other perishable food item, onions can go bad. However, you can prevent this from happening by storing them properly. 

Usually, onions last up to two weeks when you leave them at room temperature. You can extend their shelf life for up to a month by freezing or keeping them in a cool, dark, and dry place. 

Thanks for reading.

Was this guide enlightening? You should also see how to freeze green onions to preserve them.