We discuss the right—and the wrong—ways to dispose of soup that has spoiled. So that you won’t have to with your plumber.

You left soup on the counter, or kept it in the fridge for a little too long, and you just discovered it has spoiled. Now, you want to know how to get rid of it so that it won’t stink up your home or require a visit from the plumber.

To dispose of spoiled soup, pass it through the garbage disposal. If you don’t have one, drain the liquid down the sink with a strainer. Add the remaining spoiled contents to your compost pile or bag them and throw them in the garbage.

Read on to find out why these are the best ways to dispose of spoiled soup; we will give you plenty of tips and techniques for handling this tedious activity in a way free from stink and hassle.

Properly Disposing of Spoiled Soup

There’s something about soup, and we don’t know exactly what it is, that makes it easily forgettable: it is just too easy to forget about it while you’re cooling it on the stove, resting it on the countertop, or keeping it in the fridge.

We will get into the exact signs of spoilage in a moment, but the general rule of thumb is to trust your senses; after all, they are there to give you hints that keep you alive and well. When your soup starts to smell funky and taste funny, it’s time to discard it.

Just as there’s more than one way to skin a cat (who invented that idiom, anyway?!), there are several ways to dispose of spoiled soup. The key is to do it right away when you suspect that a pot of soup has spoiled, because that pot has become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.

Strain the Liquids, Add the Solids to Your Compost Pile

Apart from dairy and meat, neither of which are meant to go into the compost pile in large quantities, nearly every ingredient you will find in soup is compostable, and will make a great addition to the compost.

To get yourself out of a spoiled-soup situation gracefully, strain the solids from the liquids in your kitchen sink—adding the former to your compost bin and pouring the latter down the drain. Some will even save the liquid and water their garden with it.

This is a perfectly legit way of disposing of spoiled soup! Unless, that is, we are talking about spoiled canned soup and you have reason to suspect botulism. In this case, we have written about the safe disposal of spoiled canned food, and we encourage you to go on over and read that article through to the end.

Down the Garbage Disposal

So you have a garbage disposal in your house? We have good news for you.

Part liquid, part solid, soup is one of those cooked foods that a garbage disposal is absolutely perfect for getting rid of. If your house is new or your kitchen recently remodeled, chances are your kitchen sink is equipped with a garbage disposal.

Although this is pretty much a common-sense answer, we decided to add it anyway. Pots and bowls of soup can easily pass through the garbage disposal because they are often made with small, bite-sized pieces of food—providing the quickest and easiest solution of them all.

Strain It, Drain It, Throw the Remainder in the Garbage Can

Last but not least, we get to the oldest trick in the book. We recommend that you go for this method only if you don’t have a compost pile or a garbage disposal in your home.

In your kitchen sink, strain the solids from the liquids, bagging the former and pouring the latter down the drain. Tie the trash bag and throw it in the garbage can. Ideally, do this as close to collection day as possible.

How to Not Dispose of Spoiled Soup

While there are many ways you can easily get rid of your wretched spoiled soup, there are also ways you should avoid—even if you hear or read from others suggesting the options.

Flushing Down the Toilet

We often hear people say they flush their spoiled soups down the toilet to quickly get rid of it. However, we suggest not doing this. Flushing things down your toilet can cause a major blockage or, if done frequently, cause the septic to fill quicker than usual.

Emptying in the Garbage

You never want to empty the entire container of rotten soup into the waste bin. Not only is it going to start smelling up the room, but it will also add weight to the bag with the access liquid and can cause a huge mess if the bag happens to tear open.

How Can You Tell If Soup is Spoiled?

You never want to eat spoiled soup; doing so can give you food poisoning. Which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, happens to 48 million Americans every year (of which 128,000 get hospitalized and 3,000 die).

The most obvious signs of spoilage is if your soup has a film on it or may already have started growing mold or mildew. Do not—we repeat, do not try to eat soup with visual signs of molding. That said, it should still be okay to add to your compost piles.

The second-biggest indication that your soup is spoiled would be by the off odor of the contents in the container. When vegetables and/or meat smell, they give off a funky, rancid odor that, for good reason, makes you cringe.

Another way you can quickly tell if a soup is spoiled is by the taste. If you do a tiny taste test of your soup and it has a bitter and sour flavor that wasn’t there when it was fresh, stop eating it and throw it out immediately.

How to Dispose of Spoiled Canned Soup

The majority of canned goods have a very long shelf life that will keep your soups safe to eat for long periods of time. However, once you open the can, you should make sure to eat it right away or store the contents in a refrigerator-safe container so it doesn’t go bad.

Storing it inside the can could result in bacterial growth causing serious illnesses. If you find an old can of food in the pantry and it seems like it is bugling or could have been damaged in any way, you should throw it out.

When tossing spoiled canned soup, make sure it is double bagged separately and not accessible by humans or animals. You also do not want to add the contents into your compost or pour it down the drain or garbage disposal.

How Long Can Soup Sit Out Before it Becomes Spoiled?

Often, when people make homemade soups, they will make big batches, large enough for the family, and leave it to sit out for everyone to get their own bowl when they are ready to eat. This is not the best idea unless the pot is being kept warm at around 140°F or higher.

Once the soups have cooled to less than 140°F, it is only able to remain sitting out at room temperature for up to two hours; after that, the soup must be placed in the refrigerator, where it can stay for 3-4 more days.

No soup left out for more than 1-2 hours should be consumed and, for food safety reasons, should be thrown in the garbage or compost pile. This is because pathogenic bacteria—the kind that can make you sick—thrives at room temperature.

If you have a fantastic recipe your entire family loves, you can always make large batches and store them in the freezer, where, according to the USDA, they will stay safe to eat indefinitely (and keep their best qualities for months).

Summing Things Up

You always want to properly dispose of any leftover and spoiled soups, keeping them from being consumed by family or pets. Spoiled foods can be dangerous to your health and can make your fridge smell awful. 

If you want our opinion, the easiest way to dispose of spoiled soups is by draining the liquids down the sink and tossing the leftovers into the trash. This will take minutes of your time and will free up extra room in the fridge.