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 you’ll be an expert on how to clean chicken eggs correctly once you’ve read our instructions.
- What You’ll Need
- 8 Steps For Cleaning Fresh Eggs
- Final Thoughts
What You’ll Need
- Unwashed fresh eggs
- Distilled vinegar
- Warm water
- Container / pot
- Spray bottle
- Dry towel
8 Steps For Cleaning Fresh Eggs
You don’t need to buy or use a commercial cleaning solution to wash fresh eggs! For this guide, we will be using the good-old vinegar to clean dirty eggs.
1. Prepare The Vinegar Cleaning Solution
Vinegar is not only for cooking. You can also use it to clean and wash fresh eggs. The vinegar’s acidic nature is strong enough to remove dirt, grime, bacteria, and even the poop stains and blood on farm fresh eggs (1).
Vinegar is about five percent acetic acid, which helps it break down the structure of some dirt, oils, films, stains, and bacteria.
The good thing about using vinegar, aside from being readily available in your pantry, is you don’t need to be a chemist or rocket scientist to transform it into a cleaning solution!
The rule of thumb is always to use the 1:1 ratio. So if you have a 2ml of vinegar, combine the same amount of warm water into the mixture. Easy, right?
Don’t worry about removing the egg’s outer coating called the bloom. As long as you don’t aggressively scrub the egg, you can keep the bloom of the unwashed eggs safe and intact.
Here’s a quick explanation about harvesting eggs the first time.
2. Check The Cleaning Solution Temperature
Don’t apply the solution to the egg just yet! You can make it even more effective by ensuring that the homemade cleaning solution’s temperature is warmer than the egg’s surface.
You can determine the temperature by using a thermometer or simply feeling the solution or egg with your hands. The fresh egg should also be at room temperature.
It is extremely important that the water you use to wash and rinse the egg is at least 20°F warmer than the egg surface itself (2).
The temperature of each solution should be no more than 90-120°F (32.2-49°C). Rubber gloves will help hands to tolerate the hot water.
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.
3. Fill The Spray Bottle
Pour the solution into the spray bottle.
We recommend using a stainless steel or glass spray bottle over plastic. When you pour hot water into plastic, it will release harmful chemicals such as Bisphenol A (BPA). Plus, it is non-biodegradable.
4. Fill The Container With Water
In a separate pot or container, fill it with warm water. Just like the cleaning solution, you should make sure the rinsing water is warmer than the eggs’ surface.
Again, you can use a thermometer or use your hands to check the temperature. Tap water is only advisable if it’s warmer than the egg.
5. Spray The Chicken Eggs
Once you have the cleaning solution and rinsing water ready, you can now spray the egg’s surface. You can either spray the entire surface of the fresh eggs or apply it to the stains. Spray the chicken egg one at a time and proceed to step 6.
6. Rub The Stains Off
Take your clean sponge and remove the stains. Don’t forget eggs are fragile!
Use a gentle circular motion until the stain starts peeling off. Repeat this step if the unwashed egg has stubborn stains.
An egg’s shell is mostly a semipermeable membrane called calcium carbonate crystals, meaning air, moisture, and even bacteria can pass through the pores and reach the raw egg (3).
Scrubbing the eggshells too hard can remove the protective bloom, making the eggs more susceptible to Coli and Salmonella.
Don’t use excessive force when cleaning the stains. You may unknowingly remove the bloom of the eggs. Bloom is a natural outer protective coating of an egg.
7. Wash It Off
Once you removed the stains from the egg shells, you can now dunk the eggs in water. You can also pour the water as a final rinse.
Never use cold water or running cool water when washing eggs.
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 egg’s contents to condense, pulling bacteria from the pores into its crust.
8. Dry The Farm Fresh Eggs
The last step to cleaning your eggs is drying them off. Again, don’t use excessive force when drying the eggs.
You should lightly dab a clean cloth or a paper towel on the eggs’ surface. This way, you won’t scrub off the eggs’ bloom or accidentally break the shell.
You can wash the eggs again if there is any stain residue left. Just make sure that you don’t use cold water!
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 and nesting box before any egg has been laid.
If you follow proper animal management practices like having a functional coop and nesting boxes that are kept clean, you will rarely have to wash your eggs.
But if those eggs get a bit dirty – because it happens sometimes! – we hope our step-by-step guide on washing eggs correctly helps you prevent scrubbing off the bloom and keep the pesky bacteria away from your eggs.
Please remember to share this article with all your clean-egg enthusiast friends! If you have a tip, an idea, or have different ways to clean eggs, make sure you leave your opinions in the comment section below.
Washed farm fresh eggs can last up to 2 months. However, washed eggs need to be refrigerated. Most of the time, they are generally safe to eat, but you’ll notice that they are not as fresh as newly laid eggs. As a rule of thumb, always keep washed eggs in the fridge and consume them right away.
For you and your family’s safety, you can check if the eggs are still safe to eat by putting them in water. If the eggs sink to the bottom of the pot and tilt on their sides, you can still eat them. But if they stand on one end, they are no longer fresh, but you can cook and eat them. If the washed or unwashed eggs float on the water, don’t attempt to serve them at all. To help prolong their shelf life, always store eggs in the refrigerator and place their pointy ends facing down.
Yes, you should wash store-bought eggs. Although commercial eggs or grocery store eggs are treated with a chemical sanitizer, residues are often left untouched. However, not all countries prefer egg washing. 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.
However, eggs in the U.S. are refrigerated immediately after washing and constantly kept in refrigeration to dodge trans-shell contamination. Eggs in the EU and UK are kept at room temperature. Regardless of where you live, washing your eggs is a great precautionary measure to prevent bacteria from entering the pores and avoid a potential health risk like salmonella. Plus, it takes a couple of minutes to clean your eggs.
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 or contaminated with animal feces, and when you do, you should do it with utmost care. Remember, soiled eggs must be cleaned, but not with cold running water. If you prefer not to wash your eggs, you should keep them in clean nest boxes to avoid bacteria contamination.
No, it doesn’t mean hens have worms when they lay an egg with poop. Maybe your backyard chickens’ nesting boxes are dirty, or your chickens are snoozing in the nest box 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! It’s important to keep the nesting boxes clean if you want to harvest poop-free eggs.
Chickens infected with worms usually have a loss of appetite, runny excrement, dull comb, and wattles, amongst others. If one of your chickens from your backyard flock has these symptoms, you should immediately consult with a poultry veterinarian.
- Reliable and Scientific Tips for Cleaning With Vinegar. Retrieved from: https://www.nsf.org/knowledge-library/reliable-scientific-tips-cleaning-with-vinegar
- Egg Cleaning Procedures for the Backyard Flock. Retrieved from: https://food.unl.edu/documents/EggCleaning.pdf
- Anatomy of An Egg. Retrieved from: https://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/eggs/eggcomposition.html
Alex lives in the sustainability capital of Australia (Byron Bay) where the local community thrives and strongly supports self-sufficient living and green tech entrepreneurship. He began Eco Peanut in 2014 with the mission to spread bite sized sustainability advice to the masses.