How To Clean And Store Fresh Chicken Eggs – All Questions Answered!

Should I clean an egg that has been soiled? Do I have to clean all eggs before cooking? Is there a correct way to clean eggs?

For those of you about to scrub the dirt off your eggs… please take a short pause, breathe in, and let us walk you through the science behind cleaning that egg properly.

You can rest assured that once you’ve read our instructions you’ll be an expert on how to clean chicken eggs, correctly.


A Few Must-Knows Before Learning How to Wash Eggs

Do your eggs look a bit dirty? Fight the urge to wash them like you would wash anything else, as there are specific things you should be aware of before drenching them in soap and tepid water!

Should you wash eggs before cooking?

The answer to this question is no… it is not necessary to wash eggs before boiling them, scrambling them, poaching them, etc.

You can make an exception to this rule whenever an egg happens to be slightly soiled, and when you do you should do it with utmost care.

Please, continue reading the How To section below to find out how to carefully wash your eggs without inviting bacteria in!

Whenever an egg seems to be caked with more than one layer of poop or dirt, it’s best to just throw it away.

Why should I not wash my eggs?

The thing is, eggs are actually laid with their own natural shield, which is a micro-membrane covering that goes by the name of “bloom” or “cuticle”.

This coating makes sure un-hatched chicks are protected by keeping bacteria and air out of the egg shell. When we wash an egg, we destroy this natural bloom, and make it vulnerable to many kinds of contamination. 

If chicks have been safely hatching from eggs since the dawn of... well, chickens!... you should trust that the natural protective bloom around your eggs will keep the edible materials inside just fine.

And, if your flock is kept in a clean environment you shouldn’t have to wash those eggs anyway! 

Washing eggs: salmonella – Are store bought eggs washed?

Regions such as the EU and the UK actually prohibit the washing of Class A eggs because the potential damage posed by this practice may facilitate trans-shell contamination with bacteria and moisture loss.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), on the other hand, demands graded eggs to be washed and requires the removal of all visible manure, claiming that feces found on the outside of the eggshell can pose a safety threat to consumers when handling eggs. 

Eggs in the U.S., however, are refrigerated immediately after washing and have to constantly be kept in refrigeration to dodge trans-shell contamination. Eggs in the EU and UK are simply kept at room temperature.

Learn more about the debate over “why you should not wash eggs” in My Pet Chicken’s article on the topic.

Should you wash store bought eggs?

Store bought eggs should be clean regardless of whether they have gone through a washing process or not. Further washing on your part is not necessary.

Can you get salmonella from cooked eggs?

One can get salmonella by eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated with the bacteria. This food and water usually becomes infected when contact is made with feces.

The following items are the most common vehicles for spreading this disease when eaten either raw or under-cooked:

  • Beef
  • pork
  • turkey
  • fish
  • chicken – including eggs

It is possible to get salmonella if you undercook an egg that happens to be contaminated with the bacteria.

To make sure this doesn’t happen, cook eggs until both the white and yolk are firm. It is also recommended to cook egg dishes at a temperature of 71ºC (160ºF) or higher. 

Does poop on eggs mean chickens have worms?

If you’ve heard that chicken poop on fresh eggs means that your chickens have worms, just know that this is false.

Why have your eggs been soiled?

Maybe your chickens’ nesting boxes are dirty, or your chickens are snoozing in the boxes instead of on their roost poles, or maybe your chicken pooped after having laid an egg – keep in mind that both come out the same end!

Symptoms you may want to look for when it comes to worms include loss of appetite, runny excrement, dull comb, wattles and/ or eyes, amongst others. Read The Happy Chicken Coop’s article on The Complete Guide to Chicken Parasites to learn more about the topic.

How long will fresh eggs keep?

It is recommended that commercial eggs which have been washed and subsequently kept refrigerated, such as those supplied in the U.S., are consumed 4 to 5 weeks after having been packed.

You should be able to find the date of packaging on the carton. Take a look at Food Safety’s egg storage chart for more information.

Eggs kept at room temperature, on the other hand, can last at least 4 weeks from when they were laid. Thus, a fresh chicken eggs’ shelf life is strictly linked to how these are stored.

Whenever you are unsure of whether an egg is still fresh or not, just carry out this simple test to find out! 

What can I do if I want to avoid having to wash fresh eggs?

Prevention is the solution to this washing slash non-washing dilemma.

Keep eggs clean by maintaining clean nest boxes, by placing roosting poles higher than the nesting boxes to encourage hens to roost there instead, and by collecting eggs on a daily basis.

Read our article on Ideas and Tips on DIY Chicken Coop Plans for a utile hen house!

What You’ll Need for Washing Fresh Eggs

Before you wash those stained eggs, make sure you have the following things at hand:

  • A 1:1 solution of hot water and vinegar
  • Warm water for rinsing
  • A water resistant thermometer (optional)
  • check
    A stainless steel or glass spray bottle
  • check
    A metal pot or container
  • check
    Sponge
  • check
    Cloth or towel

It is extremely important that the water you use to wash and rinse the egg is at least 11ºC or 20ºF warmer than the egg surface itself – around 33ºC to 49ºC or 90ºF to 120ºF.

Warm water will cause the contents of the egg to swell against its shell, pushing bacteria out of its crust. Contrarily, cold water will cause the contents of the egg to condense, pulling bacteria into its crust.

We recommend using a stainless steel or glass spray bottle not only to avoid using plastic, which is non-biodegradable; but also to refrain from pouring hot water in plastic, which is known to spur this material into releasing harmful chemicals such as Bisphenol A (BPA). The same goes for our choice of a metal container.

Pro Tip: Whenever an egg has slight stains only, it is enough to dry clean it. Do this by gently rubbing the dirt off using fine grit sandpaper or a loofah. Avoid rubbing clean areas, as the idea is to keep the egg’s natural protective bloom as untouched as possible.

8 Steps for Cleaning Eggs with Vinegar – The Safe Way!

Step #1. Check the cleaning solution temperature

Make sure that the water-vinegar solution is warmer than the egg surface by using the thermometer or by simply feeling the temperature with your hands.

Step #2. Fill the spray bottle

Pour the water-vinegar solution into the spray bottle.

Step #3. Check the rinsing water temperature

Make sure that the warm water is warmer than the egg surface by using the thermometer or by simply feeling the temperature with your hands.

Step #4. Fill the pot

Pour the warm water into the metal pot or container.

Step #5. Spray the egg!

Spray the water-vinegar solution all over the egg’s surface.

Step #6. Knock out the smudge

Gently rub all stains off using the sponge.

Step #7. Wash it off

Rinse by grabbing the metal pot or container and pouring some of the warm water on the egg (or by dunking it in).

Step #8. Dry

Carefully dry the egg using the cloth or towel.

How to Store Fresh Eggs

You’ve cleaned them, but now you need to know how to store chicken eggs.

First things first: remember to separate eggs that have been washed from those that haven’t!

Eggs that have been washed should go in the refrigerator, because once their bloom has been rubbed off, their ability to remain fresh will noticeably diminish, and cool temperatures will help prevent bacteria from penetrating their porous shells.

However, instead of storing them in the door compartments of your fridge – like many people do – try placing them in the main body.

This section of the fridge is more likely to remain at a consistent temperature, which is what we are looking for when storing eggs appropriately.

It is suggested to consume eggs that have been washed before you eat those that haven’t, because those that have not been washed will remain fresh for longer.

Eggs that haven’t been washed may be kept either at room temperature or in the fridge. It is said that one day at room temperature is equivalent to roughly a week in the refrigerator, so the choice is yours!

When keeping them at room temperature, don’t forget to keep them in a dry spot and to store them with the pointy end facing down in a carton or covered container. The carton or container will prevent eggs from absorbing odors from neighboring foods.

For those of you who are curious about age-old methods on how to store eggs without refrigeration, you can watch Townsends’ interesting video on The Top 6 Historical Egg Preservation Techniques!


Bottom Line – Cleaning up the Mess Around How to Wash Fresh Eggs

The debates and discourse around washing fresh eggs and how to clean chicken eggs is puzzling. Nonetheless, the key point to remember is that cleanliness begins in the coop, before any egg has been laid.

If you have a functional coop that is kept clean, you will almost never have to clean your eggs.

But if those eggs get a bit dirty – because it happens sometimes! – we hope our step-by-step guide on how to wash eggs correctly helps to walk you through the process.

Please remember to share this article with all your clean-egg enthusiast friends, and to leave your opinions, ideas, or questions in the comment section below. 

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