If you’ve got spoiled milk, we’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you need to know about getting rid of spoiled milk.

Even if you are the most pedantic person in the world when it comes to food waste, sooner or later, you will forget a carton of milk on the counter for longer than 1-2 hours, or leave a jug of it in the fridge for a few days longer than you should have.

Lo and behold, the milk spoils. And, for your own safety and the safety of your family members—which we will cover in detail in a minute—you are left with no other choice but to dispose of it.

The question you’re here to answer is, “How to dispose of spoiled milk?”

To dispose of spoiled milk, flush the milk down the toilet or pour it down the drain. Then tie the container in an old grocery bag to contain the odor and throw it in the outside trash bin.

Don’t dispose of spoiled milk in its original packaging or gas from the bacterial activity can build up inside it and the pressure can cause it to explode.

The bacteria in the milk produce gas that accumulates in the jug or carton. If you’re too far away from garbage day, the milk may explode and you’ll have an even bigger mess to clean up.

Don’t ask me how I know. 🙂

Flush the spoiled milk down the toilet:

Most people, me included, dispose of spoiled milk by flushing it down the toilet. Then they tie the empty carton in a sealed grocery bag to contain the odor and throw it in the outdoor trash can.

Optionally, to clean your toilet after disposing of the spoiled milk in it, what you can do is sprinkle a cup of baking soda into the bowl, add a cup of white vinegar—then close the lid and let the solution fizz and bubble for 30 minutes.

This sanitization method is safe for your plumbing and is explained in detail over at Arm & Hammer’s website.

Pour the spoiled milk down the drain:

Others pour the spoiled milk down the drain and then get rid of the jug or carton. If you prefer this method, you can wash your kitchen sink once you’re done with a solution of 1 part bleach to 8 parts water.

Doing so helps to prevent a lingering smell of spoiled milk, the last thing you want to smell in the kitchen.

Sour Milk vs. Spoiled Milk

Many use the term “sour milk” and “spoiled milk” interchangeably. But the fact of the matter is that there’s a big difference in the aroma, flavor, and consumption safety of the two.

Sour milk tastes sour, but in a pleasant and fermented way similar to kimchi and sauerkraut. Spoiled milk has an off, repealing odor and a bitter, unpleasant taste. Its consistency can also become thick and lumpy, and its color can change conspicuously to yellow.

The main reason is that the bacteria responsible for sour and spoiled milk are not necessarily the same. In some cases they can coexist, but their type and the byproducts of their activity are very, and I mean very, different.

Why Sour Milk Smells and Tastes Sour

Sour milk has been cultured with lactic acid bacteria, the good kind, which break down the lactose sugar in the milk, feed on it, and fart out lactic acid—the acid responsible for yogurt’s distinct smell and taste—as a byproduct.

The process of culturing raw milk with lactic acid bacteria, and letting the bacteria to work their magic at a warm temperature, is called fermentation.

Why Spoiled Milk Is Unsafe to Drink, Heat, or Cook With

Spoiled milk has been taken over by pathogenic bacteria, the bad kind. The pathogenic bacteria also feed on the milk but, instead of producing lactic acid, they produce enzymes called proteases and lipases, which can give the milk an off odor and a bitter taste, and heat-resistant enterotoxins, which can give you food poisoning.

The process of having milk spoil due to time and/or temperature is called spoilage.

The key takeaway, as you can probably imagine by now, is that fermentation isn’t the same thing as spoilage.

Fermentation is a controlled process meant to culture the milk with a specific breed of gut-healthy bacteria to give it a distinct consistency, aroma, and flavor. Spoilage is an uncontrolled process that leaves the milk with all kinds of bacteria, good and bad, and a dangerous cocktail of enterotoxins.

Can Spoiled Milk Make You Sick?

Spoiled milk can give you food poisoning—and it is in no way safe to drink or cook with.

When milk starts to smell or taste bad, please don’t eat it, heat it, or make cornbread with it. Instead, throw it away immediately so that no member of your household makes the mistake of consuming it.

Some of us mistakenly believe that spoiled milk becomes edible again by boiling, even if it still tastes sour. The heat kills most of the disease-causing bacteria, but doesn’t eliminate the heat-resistant enterotoxins that they left behind.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 48 million Americans contract a food-borne illness each year. Simply put, that’s about one in five people! Of these, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die.

Mild cases of food poisoning, the CDC reports, can give you nausea, stomach cramps, upset stomach, diarrhea, and vomiting; severe cases can lead to chronic arthritis, brain and nerve damage, and even kidney failure.

It cannot be stressed enough, folks:

Safety should always come first when it comes to the health of you and your loved ones. As the cook and the main person responsible for what goes into the refrigerator—and what stays there—the burden of that safety rests largely on your shoulders.

Can You Water Plants With Spoiled Milk?

Some say that, instead of flushing spoiled milk down the toilet or pouring it down the drain, you can water your plants with it. However, using too much milk can wilt or spoil your plants—and the fact that the milk itself has already spoiled won’t help.

For example, Tehrene Firman of Well + Good recommends mixing equal parts milk and equal parts water, and either spraying your plants’ leaves with it or pouring it lightly around the base of the plants as a fertilizer.

At the same time, and as Kerry Michaels explains for readers of The Spruce, using too much milk can result in wilted growth or, even worse, a spoiled plant due to the bacteria contained in it.