I’m pretty laid-back when it comes to my home-grown foods.
I’ll eat unwashed veggies from my garden (we’re 100% organic, of course), raw milk straight from Oakley the cow, and raw eggs from our chickens.
Buuut, some people aren’t quite so, shall we say, accepting. And sometimes when you give people a carton of chicken eggs to take home that have bits of shavings and feathers stuck to them, it kinda grosses them out.
But no big deal, just give the eggs a good scrubbing and send them out the door. Right?
Believe it or not, there is more to washing an egg than you might think.
Egg shells are porous, but God designed them to have a micro membrane coating on them called “bloom” to keep potential baby chicks and their environment safe and clean.
Bacteria has a hard time getting inside a dry egg. Washing dirty eggs removes the bloom and invites bacteria to be drawn inside the egg. And washing eggs in cool water actually creates a vacuum, pulling unwanted bacteria inside even faster.
(Of course, not all bacteria is bad, but you never know what may be lurking on the outside, so better safe than sorry.)
So, what do we do with those less-than-shiny eggs?
First off, the easiest solution is to prevent dirty eggs in the first place.
1. Clean your nesting boxes often. Personally, I’ve found that keeping a constant supply of fresh shavings in each box goes a looong way in keeping my eggs clean (though, I’ll freely admit that this does not happen every day at my homestead!).
2. Place your roosting areas HIGHER than your boxes. Chickens like to roost in the highest part of the coop that they can. Build roosting areas higher than your nesting area to discourage them from roosting in and soiling their boxes. (I really wish I had known this tip BEFORE we built our roost set-up… darn it.)
But, even with the cleanest boxes, you will still end up with a dirty egg from time to time.
So your options are: (a) throw them at cars (b) practice your juggling technique (c) carefully clean them.
Let’s go with (c), shall we?
Egg Wash options:
1. Sandpaper. Use a fine grit sandpaper to gently sand off any soiled areas of the egg. While this still damages some of the bloom coating, it keeps the egg dry, helping to prevent the “vacuum” effect.
2. Warm/Hot water. Wash the dirty eggs in water that is approximately 20 degrees (or more) hotter than the egg. The hotter the better, and I try not to allow my eggs to soak in any standing water. I moisten them until the dirty spots soften, wipe, and dry. Also, it’s probably a good idea to use washed eggs before unwashed ones.
3. Bleach/Dish Soap. I’ve seen many sources mention bleaching or cleaning eggs with “solutions”. I try to steer clear of any of these methods, especially the bleach. I suppose if you are running a commercial egg operation, then this is something you need to consider, but for my informal egg collecting? I just use plain ol’ hot water. (If I WERE to use some sort of “soap,” I would definitely stick with something on the natural side that isn’t antibacterial… In fact anything that says “antibacterial” isn’t allowed into my house…)
My personal method? I only wash eggs that are visibly soiled. Anything that comes in the house already clean is left alone. If they have a bit of dry manure or shavings stuck on them, I try to flick those things off before bringing them inside. The less washing the better, I say!
So, my egg cleaning routine is informal, but I’m happy with it. Another factor that gives me peace of mind is knowing that our chickens are healthy, happy, and fed a better quality diet than commercial chickens. Those things go a long way in keeping your eggs safe to eat. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
Do you wash your backyard eggs? What is your method?
A Few more Egg-y Posts:
Green Bean says
How interesting. I had no idea about the bacterial vacuum thing. I don’t wash if the egg looks clean but if it is dirty, I usually wash it – often before using but sometime before storing in the fridge.
I’ve only been farming my own chickens for a few years. But have ALWAYS washed our eggs and never once gotten sick off of any of them. Can’t say the same for store bought. But our chickens are free ranged and I love the richer yolks like we had when I was a child, and glad we got them so my children could experience the difference as well. But thankyou alot of information I didn’t know, but I can’t see stop washing them personally. I use a touch of dawn on each egg and wash each one under running water for a quick few seconds and rapidly dries them. Ok ya’ll can yell at me now. LOL
I wash mine the same way! I refrigerate them right away.
I also use a bit of Dawn. But was using cool water so will change the temp. I don’t like eggs in the fridge that haven’t been washed but sometimes I don’t get around to washing them right away. I am currently researching egg washing because in the past few weeks I have had a couple of bouts with “digestive distress” and wondered if it was from unwashed eggs in the fridge.
Kevin Lee May Sr says
I also do the same with Dawn, but I always use hot water. Clean eggs I leave on the counter in a bowl. The ones I have to wash go in the fridge and get eaten first.
THIS IS ALSO HOW I DO MINE. WE ARE THE ONLY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD THAT THINKS EGGS “HAVE” TO BE REFRIGERATED.
why do you put the ones you have to wash in the fridge? and why do they get eaten first? i am so confused with all this egg washing ….lol
i never wash my eggs or refrigerate them. if you put them in the box unwashed, when you take them out, condensation forms. if there was any contaminates, the moisture loosens it up and bingo, digestives disorders.
Lynn Spindle says
Hey Tina, I tell my folks if they Wash there eggs they Must Be refrigerated ASAP! But unwashed eggs are counter/ shelf stable but wash before eating the eggs. I personally leave eggs on counter unwashed and not refrigerated up to 45 days. They are fine. That is me and certainly you do what makes you feel Safe,by all means. ?
We just Got Chickens-Learning as we go-Its Common sense is the key -just some things I wasn’t sure about so we look it up like I did on this site and its basically simply. 1 Thing I didn’t know is that u could freeze them but It makes sense-thank u
mark pilbeam says
eggs will keep out of the sun for months if not washed but no one actually knows how long.i do know that after a week the hatching rate starts dropping off. after raising chickens and selling eggs for years; I’ve found that, my best way to wash them is with the same thing i wash my dishes with. I use dawn.I have used pool chlorine too,(dilluted).Chlorine; the same as city people drink,not bleach. if the eggs are dirty from usually rain, I will wash them the same day to help them from getting spotted. I start with a shot of soap in a plastic pan in the sink.Then,add warm water stirring to dillute. I then turn the cold to make it below my body temp. Eggs incubate at 101 degrees.I put the eggs in and start washing them.clean ones first. I use the green part of a scrubber that i tore the spounge off. the water passes thru it. I rinse each one and put in dish strainer.Its rubber coated. After they are all washed,i spray water over them to get any hanging soap off.I dry them with a paper towel and put in fridge as soon as possible. I try not to sell any less than 1 to 2 days old. after a day or 2, you will be able to tell if the shell has been damaged or is inferior. black spotting or crack.If you choose not to wash your eggs,I WOULD SUGGEST YOU REFRIDGE.some cracks you cant see. I DON’T EAT ANY CRACKED EGGS .my dog does. the air spot ones i judge. Eat boil or dog. For each it’s own. live free.
Gary Morello says
Pool chlorine is the same as bleach. It’s sodium hypochlorite. Exact same stuff, just sometimes in different concentrations. You can read the percentage on the bottle, usually something like 5~10%. The rest is water (unless it’s scented bleach). I sometimes chlorinate my pool with regular bleach from Costco, just depends on the price and the concentration. Cheap bleach has a lower concentration, hence the cheaper price. So if you are going to wash eggs in chlorine might as well just use your bleach from the laundry room!
Anita Tavernetti says
when I built my coop I put a slanted floor in my nesting boxes. And built a place for the eggs to roll to after the hen lays. I just go and lift the lid on the outside of the box and my eggs are there nice and clean. It also prevents egg eating
How do you build slanted an do you put any straw or anything
We did that but ended up with way too many cracked eggs. We ended up building a new nesting box that was flat and put sand it. Rarely a cracked egg ever now
So if my eggs already look clean do I still need to do the egg wash? Also, do I need to do the egg wash as soon as I bring them in or only right before I’m going to eat them?
Hopefully, I will be able to find unwashed eggs here in the near future, at which point I will leave them all unwashed until right before I cook with them. When I need an egg, I’ll wash it if it’s dirty, and proceed as normal. 🙂
I do it the same way as Laura … collect and store the eggs as is (unless they are terribly nasty, which is seldom). Then, when I use them in a recipe, I will wash them off just before cracking them.
Fame B says
I think that method is best, too. And, I recommend it to the people who receive our eggs. Glad to know I’m on the right track, or at least the same one as everyone else.
I had just asked our egg-man this week about cleaning practice. He just uses a rough cloth to wipe the eggs, no water. We love the taste of free range, organic eggs.
I myself agree with you both because I also use this method?
We do the same, wash right before we use them.
Jennifer Garceau-Ottrando says
That’s what we do. We keep them as is after collecting them in a bowl. And, we wash them only when we are about to use them. If I have giving them away, I wash them for whomever and tell them to fridge them.
We try not to wash any eggs until they’re about to go out the door to another home. I always try to explain to my hardier customers that they’re better off keeping the dirt on until right before use, if they care to wash them then. Those customers don’t mind and understand freshness-over-prettiness! But for most customers, I wash them up on the morning of or moments before I send them out the door. It’s worth knowing how much fresher they stay!
Lisa @ Two Bears Farm says
We don’t wash our eggs. On the rare occasion that I get a really raunchy egg, the dog gets a treat 😉
Karen Hathaway says
I also only wash visibly soiled eggs and then only just before they get used…Any one I sell to seems not to care .
Gone Country says
I don’t wash my eggs either unless they’re particularly dirty although I am going to start waiting to wash them until right before I use them. Thanks for this informative post!
Now I feel kind of lazy!! If I get a dirty egg I may try and brush it off on a dry rag, or I just crack it on the opposite side of the dirty spot. That sort of thing must not bother me because until I read this I never gave it a second thought. I kind of live by the ” a little dirt won’t hurt ” motto in my life 🙂
I don’t think there is anything wrong with that method, either! 😉 I’ve definitely been known to do that, too. But *sshhh* don’t tell the Egg Police. 🙂
I never even considered washing eggs from our backyard chickens! Which is so unlike me, but ha! Guess my guts knew all along that it was better not to… I do exactly what you do Elise, I just crack it on the other side or brush off anything that might fall into the bowl/pan! Been eating our eggs this way for about 4 months (only had chickens a year and they just started laying in December), but no problems so far!
Tammy Maynard says
LOL…this is me, too!! I never wash our eggs and have a few customers that don’t seem to mind. If on occasion I get a REALLY BAD one, I’ll wash it right before I use it. 🙂
I must be lazy too! I’ve been eating unwashed eggs for 20 years and haven’t had a problem yet. Sometimes I take a dozen or two to church with me and it kind of grosses the ladies out. But hey, do you want good organic eggs or those things they sell in the store with no taste? A occasional poop spot and floating feather never hurt anyone and besides
i don’t charge extra for that!
I grew up never washing eggs, we don’t wash our eggs either. We sell them and have people tell us to not wash them at all. They have poop, feathers, whatever, and we don’t care. We clean em up before we crack em, but that’s just how I learned to do. I didn’t even know washing was a thing until my friend brought it up. We’ve never gotten sick, either. She was really grossed out that we didn’t wash our eggs.
New to raising hens and loving it. Like your motto. Mother nature knows how to do better than we do.
Usually my eggs are clean, but one day during the week a chicken had a massive stomach blowout right on top of an egg. I wash it, but it was still gross and stained. I threw it out this morning. I just couldn’t bring myself to eat it.
Yeah, that’s kinda icky sounding… I probably would have tossed that one too. My dogs sure appreciate the occasional “too dirty” or cracked ones.
Ok dumb question but… how do you feed them to a dog? Raw? Cooked? I put a dirty egg in the compost pile this morning, and now will feel guilty that my pup missed out!
Dogs can have raw eggs. They are really good for them! I have a dog that will take the whole egg break it open himself and eat everything including the shell! He thinks its the best treat ever!!
Definitely! My dogs love it, too- they fight over who gets the really icky ones… :0
My grandparents used to get rid of dogs who were guilty of “sucking eggs.” Dogs love them and quickly learn how to get to the good parts if you don’t do it for them. For them, a dog was “ruint” (that would be “ruined”) if it was caught sucking eggs. They were of the opinion that once started, you could never break a dog of that. They valued their eggs and chickens very highly during the Great Depression. During our “almost” depression, but certainly dismal economic situation, we are vigilant about our eggs. The dogs do get raw egg on their food from time to time. Two of them got a treat when I dropped one the other day and let them clean up the mess.
My dog does that also.
my vet told me no raw whites. It was something about them leaching from the dogs digestive track. Cant remember the specifics but loved my dogs as much as chickens. I feed cooked eggs back to the hens.
Good info! I am also curious how you store your fresh eggs? I have heard mixed feelings on this too.
Allison- I just store mine in cartons in the fridge. I know there are differing opinions on this, but I haven’t delved into that topic much, yet.
I purchase real unwashed eggs from a local farmer and I keep them out, not in the fridge. My farmer says she never refrigerates hers and she has crates and crates of them that she keeps in an un-air conditioned foyer to wait for her customers to pick-up. It gets hot in there in the middle of summer and they have never gone bad. I usually put the carton on top my fridge and I’m fine.
I am the same way my chickens’ eggs. I don’t refrigerate my eggs. I have a lovely, very elderly couple (90’s) down the road that sells eggs. She had never heard of leaving them out. My dogs get the extras and super dirty ones. My silly hens constantly kick all the nesting material out. Don’t know why. Lol.
Marty P. says
I don’t wash my eggs until right before I use them. When I wash, I use a green scrubby with a dot of dish soap on it and warm water. I don’t refrigerate the eggs either. I keep them in an egg skelter, which is like a roller coaster where you put the eggs in on top and pull them out on the bottom. That way you are always using the oldest eggs first. I occasionally have some really dirty eggs on the skelter, so if I have company in the kitchen, I turn them dirty-side down.
Thanks for the tips on preventing dirty eggs in the first place! I do not raise my own chickens YET but when I do (this coming spring hopefully) I am going to take those tips into consideration when building our coop.
As for washing eggs, my mom (who raises hens) always told me not to wash them but to instead just wipe them off with a dry cloth. Don’t add water or bleach into it! Sandpaper was a good idea if they are really dirty… When I see a “dirty” egg, I don’t get grossed out, I’d rather the “dirt” to be on the outside than on the inside!
We don’t wash ours. We flick off shavings or feathers when we collect the eggs. While we keep our nest boxes as clean as possible, we often get a dirty egg or two. Those go in the “dog carton” on the counter, and the furry kiddos get an extra treat in their kibble. We tell our egg customers that the eggs haven’t been washed, and if they’re concerned, to rinse them in warm water before they use them. Haven’t had any complaints yet, though one coworker wanted to know what was wrong with the eggs, as they had orangey-yellow yolks. He was also concerned about our green eggs (from the ameraucanas). He’s currently our best customer, and buys at least two 18pks a week! 🙂
Oh my Rae, how funny! What a great “problem” to have, though– gorgeous yellow yolks!
Marty P. says
I love it when recipes tell you to beat the eggs until they are a lemon yellow. When you start with orange, the lightest color you get is neon yellow.
Unfortunately, here in California, even home farm sellers of eggs have to get a license. The license process requires that all eggs be washed and kept below 40 degrees. Fines for non compliance can be quite substantial. My customers are always told (and can sometimes see) that the eggs are unwashed. However, a local home farm owner was reported to the state by another person that was a state employee and wanted to start selling eggs. She had to get an Egg Handler license ($75) and agree to inspections of eggs, packaging and coops. It is quite a detailed package and labeling requirement. Put the fear of fines in all of us local small egg producers. My eggs will now have to be washed. Info here has helped a great deal with the ways to wash. Plus, Tractor Supply has egg wipe disposable cloths.
Connie Wysocki says
So I got some from a guy in my neighborhood
I put water in sink with a tad of bleach and used a green pad and scrubbed them lightly and rinsed then dried and refrigerated.. So I need to throw them in my compost? I don’t wanna get sick.
I am a washer. I use warm/hot running water (no soaking) and a green scrubby. I rinse most eggs quite rapidly with the scrubby to dislodge anything questionable. Those that are stained I put in my fridge door for first family use. I sell eggs off my front porch and most people want to be reassured that the eggs are clean and fresh. They wouldn’t mind me using bleach – but I would! I am still in the gentle education mode of egg selling and for that matter having healthy livestock “right in town”. Old timers are hard pressed to want to pay “so much” for eggs ($2.50) so I am sure to offer a beautiful, nutritious, and tasty product. I’d like to keep my permit!
Yes, I think it does take a little education both when it comes to “dirty” eggs and paying more for nutritious eggs. People are often drawn to the “cheap” eggs at the store.
Sometimes I wash and sometimes I don’t but when I do I always wax my eggs with some olive oil or coconut oil and wipe them dry and store them in the fridge. My grandmother’s always washed and waxed. But they would leave them on the counter unwashed for several days. Both of them always said if you wash them wax the eggs. Once you wash them the bloom is gone and they need the wax to seal them for storing in the fridge. They wouldn’t ever put a dirty egg in the fridge. Loved all your articles and love my girls. I have a mix of lavender orph and black coppers and a couple laced wyndotts.
If you are selling the ones you use the oil on, be sure to let your customers know. Some people are deathly allergic to coconut oil. My husband is. We are very cautious as it is used for many things.
Does doing a quick dip in vinegar help as a safety thing for contaminants. Wash fast in warm water (spritz really) then quick dip in vinegar and they dry. Then I refrigerate.
Sandi Curry says
“Old timers” can be quite crafty. They know what a great deal they’re getting. Here in the foothills of the Sierras we sell them for 4.50 and no one complains. Your prices are very fair.
I wash my eggs an put in fridge an today my doctor says dont wash please i said are you sure i had never heard this stuff so i hope all eggs stay good after washing
Agreed!!!! I do not wash my eggs!!! Most of the time they are very smooth and clean, just right for the skillet!!!
No egg cleaning here. We keep our hens’ boxes clean and fresh. And, it helps they lay clean eggs 🙂 Nice blog!
I don’t wash mine either, unless it’s really dirty. Then, I use very warm water out of the tap and “scrub” the dirty part with one of those yellow sponges that has the green scrub on the back of it. Just a little scrub, and it’s clean! If an egg is disgustingly soiled, I practice my softball skills from high school! 🙂
I rather wash my eggs using vinegar by keeping them soaking about ten minutes in cold water and a table spoon of vinegar(I use commercial egg). So, what do you this,k about my method?
Yes! If super nasty or hole in it, my boys play baseball with it ? otherwise I don’t wash my eggs, if something small on it I might wash it off right before using it. If I can safely crack it on other side I will just do that, call it laziness or just boosting immune system but it doesn’t bother me or family.
Lori @ Laurel of Leaves says
I almost laughed out loud in the library when I read options A & B for dirty eggs! 😛 I actually just learned that eggs shouldn’t be washed with water, so this post is very timely. I’m with you though, I don’t worry too much about dirt in general and just wipe very dirty eggs off with a dry cloth. I’m getting lots of practice at our host’s house here in New Zealand, but I’m excited to have my own chooks (as they call them here) once we get back home to the States!
Glad I could share a laugh with you, Lori! 🙂
So you can wash an put in fridge i hadnt heard not washing i have been washing mine an put right in fridge
Jill Winger says
Yes, you can wash them and refrigerate right away if you prefer that route
I feel that homeschooling is a great way to get proper education as long as there is social interaction. Get a few homeschooled children/parents and form a little class that gets together once a week and teaches together. That way your child could play games that involve bigger classes. This would also be a great social opertunity. Good luck and hope I helped.
What’s so bad about a little feather dander?!? No washing here unless soiled, then they get the towel rub. If it does need a little wash, warm water and then dried off before putting it in the fridge. I store them in cartons, lowest shelf to keep them cold.
Feather dander doesn’t bother me a bit– but some “city dwellers” are a little weak-stomached when it comes to manure on their eggs. 😉
donna chucka says
First I’ve heard of, re: washing eggs but in the city. Here’s one you might of heard about though….I crack my eggs, use them, and then wash them (the shells) in warm water and dry them for half or more a day. When I get a jam jar full ( I crush them down if necessary) I boil the eggs and the membranes, which are loaded with vitamins, for five or six minutes. Cool the water and pour it on my plants and dry the shells for 24,36 hours, or till absolutely dry. I place them in my coffee grinder and grind them to a “powder” membranes included, and inject a half of tsp. in the a.m. and half a
tsp. in the p.m. with food, water or juice. Individual taste, but they have NO TASTE. This is my calcium for the day but, now this is very important….only organic eggs Not the eggs from the local grocery store unless they are organic, or, you know WHERE THEY CAME FROM! I never throw away egg shells. They are too valuable to compost even!! No, didn’t get this from a doctor. It was from scientists who work with energy medicine as they do at NASAW (SP?) Told this to a lot of medical people and friends….no more waste of egg shells. Google it too.
Interesting Donna. In fact, I have a post scheduled for the end of the week on how to feed your eggshells to your chickens, but I have never though of eating them myself. Totally logical, though! I will definitely google this.
Yes, Donna, thank you for that interesting info. I shall google it as well.
thanks for the info- i’ve thought about this (eating eggs to get calcium) often because i work in our local food coop’s wellness center and a new product for inflammation is made from the the egg membrane. apparently it is a good source of chondriton. i think the product is called NEM
shelley Rubinstein says
My husband is a worm-farmer so our eggshells get washed, air-dried, and then ground to put in the wormy-dudes’ food. Worms have a gizzard and need the grit! Just another way to use eggshells…Loved the idea of using them for people calcium supplementation. Will certainly try that one!
In Hungary egg shells are ground to powder for homemade calcium rich toothpaste to prevents tooth decay.
Kristi Moniz says
Let me get this straightyou inject like a shot or injest? Sorry confused
Pretty sure she means injest (ingest) or eat. Just stir it into your food or drink.
I love what you guys tend to be up too. Such clever work and exposure! Keep up the great works guys I’ve added you guys to my personal blogroll.
I don’t wash my eggs either. They come from the chickens clean (normally) and I actually store mine on the counter in an egg carton. I pencil the date on each one so I know the age. I actually HAVE used older eggs in the past, but I normally use within a few days, and when I have extras I give them to a family at church, sell them, etc. so I don’t have any that get to be more than a few days old.
I used to sell them commercially as well. For the store, I would wash those eggs and refrigerate them, since that was what the store sold. For customers who contacted me outside the store, I explained about the bloom and gave them the choice … every customer asked to have unwashed, unrefrigerated eggs. IMO either washing OR refrigerating begins/speeds the degrading process. I am reassured by the fact that hens lay eggs and let them sit until they have a full clutch, so some eggs are already older and still hatch healthy chicks. In the case of my geese, the eggs are up to 2-1/2 weeks old before the clutch is completed, and still they hatch.
For that matter, I have produced hatching eggs using the exact same method (no washing, stored on the counter). I always make sure they are less than 4 days old when they go to their new owner, and my hatch rates are always at or near 100%. I get the same results with eggs I hatch myself.
Now … my newest batch of ducks just started laying. Duck eggs are always something I have mixed feelings on. I’m not even sure if they ARE white when laid (just kidding) … but I have yet to pick up a CLEAN duck egg, nor can they be made clean by washing. They are always stained and dirty. I don’t sell duck eggs for that reason, but I have given them away to teachers for hatching eggs and have had reports back of good success in hatching.
I’m also interested to read about not wasting egg shells. I have always used mine by baking them and crushing them and feeding back to the chickens, or, if I get too many for that, composting them. I’m definitely going to check into using them for a supplement. Very interesting!!!
I didn’t realize that duck eggs were so prone to be dirty. What a bummer!
I have ducks…pekins, that lay an egg almost every day. They are huge with marvelous, large yolks. I do sell them, so they must be clean and pretty…they are brilliant white. I use one of those magic eraser type scrubbies gently.
Karry Ann says
About the Magic Eraser – I used to use them too until I hear that the chemicals in them may not be what you even want in your house never mind on your eggs… have a look into it. I admit it worked wonderfully on the eggs BUT I don’t want formaldehyde on anything in my house! I don’t know just what kind of chemicals they use for sure but have since found much more sensible solutions to my egg cleaning.
You hear more and more stories cropping up these days of children getting skin burns from the Magic Eraser. (This does not speak to the intelligence of the children in some cases…but still.) I keep one around that I mostly just use on my sink, but I don’t think I’d let my kids use it, which would make me VERY leery to use it on eggs. I sure do love how well it works, though… 🙂
we have ducks and chickens too. our ducks are kakai campbels (sp?) and they lay very well, but yes the eggs always have manure on them, never clean. I just cant stand putting them in the fridge or leaving them on the counter with poop on them (grosses those around me more then me, so I guess its more of me being embarassed). Anyways I squirt a tiny bit of seventh generation all natural dish soap in a dish and fill it with warm water. I let them soak for about five min. then rinse and scrub with a soft bristled scrubber. Im sure this totally scrub off the bloom but they are clean and white with no stains. You win some you lose some I guess!! Our chicken eggs are usually a little dirty because they are young scratch out all the straw we put in the nest boxes each day
Sandi Curry says
You can also carry an old tooth brush in ur pocket, and when u pick up a scruffy egg give it a quick brush. That will take off a lot. If u need to follow up with a damp paper towel, so be it.
I heard rubbing a little coconut oil after washing keeps bacteria away .. I been wondering cause of interest in mine ! Hmmm
Wow! I recently got “lazy” and quit washing every last egg that came into the house…now I know it’s totally OK. Thanks for a great post.
tereza crump aka MyTreasuredCreations says
I never knew you shouldn’t wash eggs. 🙁 But I am learning before I get my own homegrown chicken and eggs.
I have a friend at church that sells fresh eggs. I remember the first time I bought from her I asked “are they washed?” She nodded and said yes. And sure enough the eggs were clean and they are wonderful. We buy as often as she is selling them.
I wonder if she knows about the washing thingy?? I will ask her. 🙂
I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to wash eggs because I have 2 neighbours who have chickens and they wash the eggs, all of them.
I have yet been able to find anything to get all the yuck off the outside of the eggs that doesn’t include soaking & washing in water. You see I have a mixed flock of breeds and ages of birds. Some of the elderly ones can’t get up into the nesting boxes so they lay on the floor of the coop. Sometimes the eggs have dried blood on them too.
In our family both my husband & myself work full-time, we have a 5 year old boy and we live 30 kms outside of town (where we both work). Making sure our nesting boxes have clean shavings or straw in them is just not a priority. I guess if I want cleaner eggs that is what we need to do.
I will start using warm water but will continue to wash until I can find something better, or all my old hens die off. They are enjoying their retirement so far! LOL
Just found this wonderful website. Thanks to everyone for such great info and comments.
I’m a newbie. Is there any issue with using a few drops of vinegar to clean an egg before use?
I get my eggs from a friend with a farm & they’ve usually come to me clean…but when I signed on with another farm to get our raw milk I went ahead and got a dozen or so eggs to go with! That gentleman told me not to put them in the fridge, just to keep them on the counter – so that’s what I’ve been doing for over a year now! He said that the same membrane you’ve talked about actually keeps everything just perfect so you don’t need to refrigerate them.
What are your thoughts on that??
We’re also getting ready to get chickens & my hubby will be building our chicken tractor soon so all of this information has been really great!! I’m thinking of putting a floor down that is easy to clean…what do you think?
While you don’t HAVE to refrigerate eggs, I’ve heard (and experienced) that leaving them out on the counter does cause them to age faster. They won’t necessary spoil right away, just won’t stay as fresh.
So you are considering putting a floor in your chicken tractor? I’ve seen some designs that simply sit on dirt, which I think it great since it allows the chickens to pick at the grass and roll around if they want. I think that works best if it’s a portable design. Our coop floor is plain wood (was like that when we bought it). It works ok, but I do have to be careful to keep things clean and dry to prevent rotting. Just some things to think about!
Our chicken tractor has a couple of 2×4’s nailed to cross in the middle then the “floor” is covered with chicken wire….We also have a portable “yard” made from 3 sides of and old dog kennel fence. When we move the tractor, we just move the fence..Also, I wash my eggs too in good warm water with a little Dawn dish washing liquid…. I don’t know if this will hurt them or not but I’m one of those people who worry about e coli. We are new to this and if this will damage the egg, please let me know….
If your hens are healthy, you shouldn’t have any problem with e coli. Washing the eggs definitely damages the coating (bloom) that keeps bacteria out of the egg, and if your wash water isn’t warm enough, washing them will actually draw bacteria (and detergent) into the egg. We have been using our eggs unwashed and sitting on the counter (not frig) for 15 years, and no one has ever gotten sick from them.
Shon Koenig says
I love this site! I love anything to do with chickens! I don’t know how to set up facebook or tweet, but will try to learn. I just want to share a fabulous bit of information on breaking eggs. This is a fact. I have been doing this for about 2 years . When you break an egg to put in a skillet or a bowl, I always used to crack it on the edge of the pan, or the edge of the sink.~~~well here is how to do it and you will NEVER have a piece or pieces of shell get in your egg,~~~hold the egg horizontally, so both pointed ends are parallel with the stove or counter and crack the egg firmly on its side (like its “equater”) area, and always pour your egg out of the big end and your yolk will not break, and no bits of shell in your egg! Honest! Its amazing! I saw this on a cooking show one time! It works! I have 5 hens and 1 Roo and in March I am getting 30 more babies! I am so excited! I sure hope my new chicken coop is done by then! :0
Hey- thats a cool egg trick- gonna have to try it. And congrats on your new batch of babies- how exciting!
Erin D. says
I don’t wash ours until I use them, and sometimes I don’t do that, either. When I sell them, I tell people they’re unwashed and that they should probably rinse them before breaking. I lost a customer over that one – she was completely unhinged about my not washing them! I offered to wash hers, but she was done with me. 😉
This year, with our 11 new girls (YAY!) I think I’ll offer a “washed” and “unwashed for better storage” option, perhaps charging 25 cents or something for the washing.
I like the idea of offering a washed and unwashed option. I think it’s a little crazy that you lost a customer over that, but it really, really seems to bother some people… go figure! 😉
Good to know!! I always wash my eggs, with cold water, b/c I figured hot would cook them a little. Also, when someone who was not me who shall remain nameless and is my husband 😉 was tending the chickens, the coop was FILTHY, and the eggs were FILTHY. So he would bring them in and soak them. That might explain why eggs were disagreeing with me all the time!!! I may never wash my eggs again! Maybe I’ll actually be able to eat them now, spose?
Lol, oh no Laura! 🙂 Yeah, soaking them is probably definitely not a good idea, hehe. Those silly hubbys…. Hope you can eat them now!
We wipe with a paper towel when they are collected (and put in the fridge in the garage). When we sell them, if it is a city-person, they get washed as needed. Usually just rubbing with my thumbs under running water. I’ve heard the temp shouldn’t be warm for the same reason you have read it shouldn’t be cold. *shrugs* We have one family that are city-dwellers but were raised in the country. They specifically ask to have the eggs unwashed so they stay fresher longer. Love it! So glad I’ve found your site.
Yes, the city dwellers really seem to take issue with the unwashed eggs… 😉 Glad you found the blog, too!
I do wash my eggs. My ritual every Saturday morning. After I milk my goats and put away the milk, I pour a cup of coffee, take all the eggs I’ve collected for the week and wash them. The whole house is still asleep . I wash and put them in cartons to give to family and friends or to sell. After that I cook breakfast for my wife and three sons.
One afternoon when I was at work my wife called to tell me she had a great idea for egg washing. She said me that she ran a dozen through the dishwasher. I asked her, “Did you run it through all the cycles?” “Yes! And they are beautiful!” I said, “Do me a favor and crack one open.” I listened over the phone as she cracked one in a bowl and heard, “Oh no they’re cooked! What happend?” I told her the last cycle…the heat dry basically hard boiled them. She was soo disappointed. She is so funny. So about 30 mins later I got a message from her telling me she ran 3 or 4 through the dishwasher but this time she turned off the heat dry. I called her and again asked that she crack one open. And…again I could hear her enthusiasm for her new found short cut fall upon seeing that the yolk was still raw but the white was cooked. She said, “….but why…I turned the heat off.” I was grinning ear to ear and suggested that the hot water of the dishwasher soft boiled them. “Honey,” I said “…it’s just too much heat.” She exclaimed, “Dang it! I didn’t think of that… and I .thought it was such a brilliant idea!” Before we hung up, I told her to let me know how they turn out if she decided to run them through the washing machine…”The spin cycle should make things interesting.” She hung up first! So, I still have my Saturday mornings when I drink coffee and wash about 40 – 50 eggs. I don’t mind one bit.
How funny! The mental picture of eggs in a washing machine is making me smile!
Sandi Curry says
Well heck, just throw in some flour, a little butter and some sugar while ur at it. LOL
That was just geniusly written. I can totally hear your wife’s voice. Thanks for that. 🙂
Andrew – this is hysterical! If I did something like that, my husband would have suggested the washing machine too. May I please share this post with my family and friends on FB?
Yes you may use it!
KJ Puhala says
I knew I wasn’t supposed to wash them, but I didn’t know why. What about hard-boiling? Can I hard boil them without washing them first?
Also, Can I rinse them off right before cracking them?
I hard boil mine without washing and haven’t had any problems- although if they are “poopy”, I will rinse that off, first.
And yes, if you like to rinse them right before cracking, I don’t think that’s a problem. I hear of many folks doing that.
Jennifer Buffington says
Up until today I have been an egg washer! Thanks for the info….I didn’t like washing them anyways!
Hey- so great to hear someone getting this out to the public so they’re not so freaked out! I had heard that part of the coating on the eggs is actually a waxy coating substance. An old timer in my area said that you can use a small bit of natural soap SUDS on them- not liquid soap directly but suds up some first in warm, not hot water before putting the eggs in. I had dried on things that needed to soak off, unfortunately. I would store unwashed eggs on the fridge on one drawer with towels, wash a dozen or two at a time before getting ready to use and give out, then those went in the other drawer for using. They did dry out faster once washed but as the old timer said- the lightly suds soap didn’t seem to break down the wax too badly. Maybe one future time when I’m more on it my eggs won’t have so much stuff on them and I’ll try your method. This same old timer also told me that the ideal condition for storing eggs was in a room temp place with a bit of MOISTURE so they won’t dry out. That’s why root cellars used to be the ideal place. They said they used to make these wonderful egg baskets shaped like a large funnel so the older ones came out a small hatch in the bottom first. During drier times they used to hang a moist cotton towel over the top of the basket to keep the eggs just slightly moist and keep them from desiccating. Lots of very interesting information came from the older farmers and residents in my very rural community! I moved and I miss that!
Very interesting! Yes, I love the wealth of info that “old-timers” share- we can learn so much! Thanks for including it here!
Tina Anderson says
Just sifted through your blog and purchased your ebook. You had me at “Create a Homesteading Binder.” 🙂 Can’t wait to read it all!
Wahoo! Enjoy Tina! 🙂
I use a pot scrubber and hot water to wash any visible poo off the eggs. The friends who buy eggs from me expect them to be pretty. I am truly enjoying keeping our Houndstooth Hens!
Cindy Gronbach says
I’ve never washed an egg. I flick any bits of shavings off, and have only had one (my Americauna’s first egg) with any blood on it. Just cracked it on the other side. Nobody I’ve sold eggs to has ever asked if they were washed…
Jessie Gunderson says
Thank you this is so helpful. I pinned it and have shared the info with a city girl friend who just inherited 24 hens. lol 🙂 We use this method too but I couldn’t “why” exactly.
I never considered not washing our eggs. Interesting. We use hot water and a scrubby designated specifically for the eggs.
I always thought you needed to wash them to get off any poop and bacteria b/c if you crack it open then that junk can get into the egg.
Never heard of the bloom or vacuum. Interesting too! Thanks for sharing.
We do wash ours before we sell them.
I only wash our eggs if they look dirty, but most often we just put them in the carton. If I know I have to wash them (like today when it’s pouring the rain and the eggs are muddy- or I hope it’s all mud) we will just eat them right away after washing.
I don’t have chickens, but couldn’t you just wipe the eggs with a good micro fiber towel when you get them out? And then maybe just wash them Right before you use them so anything doesn’t fall in?
The idea the commercial egg-ers could be sanitizing the eggs with bleach makes me want to run screaming. (Since I, like many, grew up on conventional, commercial, shiny white eggs….)
I was my eggs before I put them in the fridge. The reason I do this is because I have mice that run through my nesting boxes. I haven’t figured out how to keep those little beasts out of my coop. The hens will occasionally catch one and kill it…and well if they eat it I don’t know…nor do I want too! I just figured the idea of putting them in the fridge w/o washing because of the mice just seemed unsanitary.
Chicken are definately carnivors. Our cat had caught a mouse and two chickens stole it and fought over who was going to get it and eat it. I couldn’t believe it.
I buy my free-range egss from my local “egg lady”. I prefer to buy them without being washed and I store them in my fridge in a covered container. I wash them, as you stated, in warmer water. I do use my own homemade bar soap on them but most importantly I only wash them right before I use them. That way the bloom keeps them protected yet they are clean for using.
I have duck eggs and before reading all this info on washing eggs I would soak my duck eggs all day in vinegar water! Even putting ice in the bowl sometimes to keep the eggs cold while soaking. Then I would scrub the eggs with a wire scrubby. Will be changing the way I clean my duck eggs for now on.
when i was young (many years ago :D) we use to go to Ireland for our annual holiday to see family and my uncles Fran and Joe(rip) had an egg farm and we use to help out, we use to use a razor to scrape the dirt off the eggs, ahhhhh memories fun times we had 🙂
but i never knew about the vacuum thing, will know better when i get my new chickens we use to just wash them in water.
great info on here by the way 🙂
I used to give away/sell eggs when I had a large flock. Most of the time I left them unwashed and let people know. If there were some really dirty ones or if someone wanted cleaned eggs, I washed them in warm water (no soap) and used a dedicated scrub cloth. Then I coated them with mineral oil after they were dry so they had a protective coating again. This satisfied my picky customers by making them shiny and beautiful. I did make sure to tell those people to store them in the refrigerator.
I’ve had chickens for 4 years, and I’ve always refused to wash my eggs. I was actually surprised to see that they are so clean when freshly laid I got several 30-egg flats from Huddle House for free, just by asking, and I store my eggs in these on the counter for weeks. We’ve eaten eggs that were almost 2 months old without any problems. I don’t sell any eggs that are over two weeks old, and I inform all my customers that the eggs are unwashed. We keep the dirtiest eggs in a separate carton on the counter for our personal use. With all the rain lately, we’ve had plenty! I’ve gotten in the habit of checking the nest boxes every morning after letting the girls out, and removing any poo deposited during the night.
Yes- I do the same thing and keep the dirty ones for ourselves, hehe.
I’ve just started raising chickens for eggs as a hobby. I’ve doing this about 3 weeks. I have always was my eggs with cold water. But now I understand 1. I don’t really have to wash then until ready to eat and 2. If I do wash do it with warm water. I have 3 dozens in the reffing, should I throw them away since I washed them in cold water?
No, I wouldn’t throw them away, I think you’ll be ok. I known I’ve washed them in cold before and have been just fine eating them. As long as your chickens are healthy, I wouldn’t worry about it. And way to go on your chicken adventure!
Thank you for your advice. I will not wash then until ready to eat.
If you are still nervous, you can use them for cooking where you cook them completely. ie scrambled, baking etc.
I wouldnt worry either but it would give me a good excuse to bake a lot.to use them up 😉
I’ve washed mine in hot soapy water a day or so ago to reuse for calcium etc, but I put them back in the fridge, are they ok if I cook eggs and shells or should I throw them out and start all over.
I will wash eggs I’m selling—but only right before I pack them up—I don’t wash the eggs I use, and we do get some dirty ones cause the boys are bad at changing the shavings in the boxes everyday. I’ll knock off the dirt and make sure there is nothing loose on it before cracking them open, that’s about it.
Aschwin Wesselius says
You might look into making lactobacillus serum so you can wash anything with a dilluted serum wash.
Watch how you make it and what the uses are of this awesome natural cleaner/fertilizer:
what are your suggestions on storing the eggs I.E. point up or down, how long and at what temp ?? also how long can an egg stay out in the nest and still be good ?
thanks for any comments
also i use hay in my boxes because it’s cheap or free and easy to pick up and toss in the compost right next to the coop. i let the girls turn it mostly .
Ok, I think I get the whole “don’t wash your eggs” thing for personal use or if there isn’t anything but shavings or feathers on them. Anything that can just be brushed of easily is really no big deal, I’m not a germaphobe. However, I have been getting some of my eggs from a friend & the last time I got them from her some of them were filthy! Absolutely disgusting! Mud & poo all over them!! And she didn’t bother to explain all of this to me she just said “I don’t wash my eggs…” I can’t remember what she said was the reason or if she said anything at all because I was in such shock at how gross they were but it wasn’t anything like what Jill said in this article. I was totally grossed out! I just can’t imagine that is sanitary at all because mud & chicken poo both have water in them, as well as nasty things, so wouldn’t both of them damage the “bloom” already??
Well, I didn’t know what to say or how to handle it so I scrubbed every dirty egg in that dozen & put them in the fridge. At least I know now that most of you would have given those to the dog or compost pile so that tells me a lot too. I hesitate to get any more from her. Yuck! I’m fine if she wants to keep them for herself but now I know she shouldn’t have sold them to me or anyone else that way!! 🙁
Thanks for enlightening me. 🙂
Jill Winger says
Yes– there are definitely some that are just too dirty for even me. And even when I’ve tried to scrub them, it’s hard not to break the shells, so it’s easiest to just give them to the dogs.
I personally try to only give/sell eggs that are clean out of the nest. Just eaiser that way. 😉
Ronda Westhoff says
My mom grew chickens and used to use a little vinegar on a cloth to clean any part of an egg that was really nasty but that was it.
We have a friend that gives us free eggs. They do not keep a tidy coop and most of the eggs are soiled. Some are pretty much covered with mud and poop that has dried on the egg. I guess I thought the bloom would protect the egg and not let this first insult inside.
Anyway, I refrigerate them as is and use them asap. I wash them under hot running water just before using them. I always cook them well-done and I do not use them for boiled eggs because I start my boiled eggs out in cold water and I don’t want to suck gunk inside thru the shell pores..
We have been using them for about 6 months and so far, so good. But am I living on borrowed time?
Jill Winger says
It sounds like you are taking all the precautions possible Sharon. I’m betting you’ll be ok. 😉
I don’t know if this has already been posted. But while watching doomsday preppers one particular woman bought eggs coated them in mineral oil and kept them in her basement(any cool dark place) she said that they could stay like that for a year maybe longer. So as long as you don’t wash your farm fresh eggs and keep them in a cool dry place they will stay good for a while.
Jill Winger says
Yes– I’ve heard that about mineral oil. My only concern would be that the eggs might absorb any icky stuff in the oil… So I wonder if a natural, food-type oil would work instead?
I am not sure but farm fresh eggs already have a protective coating so that if they are not washed and stored properly they will last a long time.
The reason she used mineral oil is because it will not go rancid and food oils will. Unfortunately I don’t remember with surety the rest of the information. I live in an area where I can’t have chickens but love the idea and hope to one day. Perhaps a search on the internet will provide more information.
food grade mineral oil is sold in the pharmacy as a laxative. (don’t worry, it’s safe in small ammounts. 😀 ) you should use it to oil your wood cutting boards too, as it will not go rancid and is cheaper than buying expensive cutting board oils which are basically made with the same ingredients.
Tammy Maynard says
Love reading all the comments. I never wash my eggs and most of my customers don’t mind. I have one guy that wants to buy eggs from me but his wife won’t let him because she said farm eggs have poop on them. Bwaahaahaa…I wonder if she thinks the commercial eggs come straight from the chicken looking like what you buy in the store!! Our local MORTICIAN said that farm eggs make him squeamish….REALLY!?! That one made me LOL!!!!
Jill Winger says
Ha! Now THAT is funny! 😉
I misread “flick them off” to be “Sometimes, if they are soiled, I LICK them off”…..
Well, I guess that is ONE way to do it that I’d never considered!
Jill Winger says
Bwahahaha– no egg licking folks! 🙂
never mind the dogs – crack an old egg on the mulch pile and watch the birds flock in and fight over the contents !!!
I’m still on the fence about washing, but seems to me it would be important to distinguish between soap and detergent, and preferably a healthfood store quality soap. Maybe soap (suds) would not remove as much of the bloom as detergent would.
Judy Horvat says
I was “helping out” at my oldest daughter’s house during hunting season and was helping to get the food ready to go to the hunting shack. I gathered eggs from their chickens (a first for me), and since some of the eggs were pretty dirty I decided to wash them before packing them in the cartons. I fixed a sink full of dish soap and warm water (didn’t want to cook the eggs before the guys cooked them for breakfast) and soaked the eggs in the sink while packing homegrown bacon, butter, etc. in the cooler. After them soaking, all I had to do was rinse them, dry them, and pack them in the cartons and cooler. I was quite proud of myself for adapting to farm life so quickly!! When the guys came back from hunting a few days later, my son-in-law (the son of my heart) looked at me with a twinkle in his eye and said that the first morning he fixed this big feast of a breakfast for his brothers and nephews and sons and when everyone sat down to eat, every time they opened their mouths they blew bubbles!! He finally admitted that it wasn’t that bad, but that most of the guys weren’t hungry enough to eat the soap-flavored eggs!! He said that he ate his, figuring it would “clean him out.” Lesson learned!! I now have hens (4 of them as that is all I am allowed to have in the city). I keep their nesting boxes clean and I DON’T wash their eggs, especially with dish soap :-).
I keep my eggs in the fridge as collected, then right before cooking I rinse with cold water.
I really learned a lot from this post about egg washing. I have hens and have always scrubbed my eggs in warm water and have never had a problem with them going bad. And I keep them on the countertop! I wonder if you would mind if I link this post from my blog, http://vomitingchicken.com. I going to write a post about farm-raised eggs. Thank you very much!
Jill Winger says
You are more than welcome to link this post– the only thing I ask is that you don’t cut and paste the post in its entirety (that makes Google penalize both of us). But links are great- and thanks for asking!
I wish I could get away without washing them. I have one bird that doesn’t lay and when she does it is compleatly shell-less. I like her to much to kill her.
You’ve got to be kidding me! Why didn’t anyone tell me this sooner? Do you know how long we spend washing eggs each morning? I wonder if this has something to do with why they upset my mom’s stomach; she can’t eat our fresh eggs! We’ll have to try leaving them as is and see if it makes the difference.
Thanks for all the information and if my questions were answered earlier I apologize in advance for asking again. I just starting to collect my eggs. I would rather be more natural with the cleaning or NOT cleaning, but of course do not want to get ill. After reading that cold water washing makes the bacteria enter the eggs what about putting into the cold fridge before washing, does that not make bacteria enter the egg as well? Or does the bacteria only enter the egg when washed in cold water due to compromising the “bloom”? Also, how long do unwashed eggs last in the fridge vs. washed eggs (warm/hot tap water)? I have washed the first 8 eggs I have gotten in warm/hot tap water in the sink for about 30 sec., dated and then dried them and put in the fridge. But if that is extra work and not the healthiest way to go I would rather not!
Great info, thank you. Glad to find this all out before our ladies start laying. I too, have purchased from a local friend, all pretty, clean eggs. Then another friend came to visit and brought some that weren’t so clean, which made me kind of raise my eyebrows. Now I know she probably knows more than my other friend! Did take me awhile to get my husband to even consider eating a farm fresh egg, but now, lo and behold, he loves them so much, we have our own flock! 🙂
Jill Winger says
The difference between store-bought and farm-fresh is impressive, huh? 😉
I have been buying farm eggs whenever I’m able for nearly 40 years. I’ve always stored them in the coolest area that is not in the fridge & have never had a problem. Also in all that time I may have washed 5 eggs. No one in my family has ever had a negative reaction. In fact back in the 70s I would buy 6 dozen at a time because the eggs were so far away. I stacked them in a corner of the kitchen where they wouldn’t get trampled. There were only two of us. They would stay fresh until we use them which could take 2-3 months. This blog has me thinking I’d better ask the farm I go to now if they wash their eggs. My 6 year old granddaughter and I LOVE eggs eating them virtually every day. I’ve sent them to school for her snack time & the only complaint is from other kids who think they stink while they eat gummies, brownies, goldfish, poptarts, etc. Eggs are the perfect health food!
Good for you Maggy! What a wonderful treat for her to take to school 🙂
I’ve never washed my eggs… but I’m starting to sell some as part of my fundraising efforts (running the Boston Marathon this April – wahoo!). I can’t imagine asking someone to throw a fiver in the jar for anything less than clean eggs.
Which is why I’m awfully glad to have found this write up. And of course, all the fun comments, too. 😉
Love your blog. Enjoyed all the chicken/egg info. We have a mixed flock of 35 girls. Have been rinsing dirty eggs for self consuming, giving and selling. Got into the habit of rinsing too much I think. Thanks for the info and reminder to leave it the way God made it to work. Will be doing less washing. Also sometimes in the summer when the grass is lush I like to wipe off the icky stuff in the grass before I take it in the house. Also I think about keeping dirty, feathery eggs in the fridge with all the other food? What about cross contamination for the other food?
Jill Winger says
Yes– I try to avoid putting the really dirty ones in the fridge. If they are super bad, I’ll usually break down and wash them, or just give them to the dogs. 🙂
My husband told me that due to limited space on submarines they store all their eggs out of the fridge and unwashed for months (often at least 6 months). My mom who lives with us can’t handle dirty eggs and flips out if we left them on the counter for a few days! I caught her once soaking the eggs and forgot about them for a day (we ended up tossing those). We told her about the military but I don’t think it’s soaking in yet (little by little so hopefully this post helps her come to terms a bit more). Ours aren’t usually that bad either, it’s just the idea of where it came from I think.
Also, I heard somewhere storing them point down keeps them longer, any thoughts on that?
Jill Winger says
I’ve heard about the point down thing, but haven’t never really noticed a difference either way. 🙂
Tracy Petitjean says
My dad told me the point side goes down because the other end has an air pocket that should face up. I have found that wherever the air pocket is after hard boiling them is the best spot to peel them without pulling chunks of the egg white off too.
The very first time I bought farm fresh eggs I had to call my husband in. I was jumping up and down going look LOOK they’re all different sizes and colors and look, this one still has dirt on it. And the yolk was so beautifully rich colored. I’m sure he thought I lost my mind.
The first time I got farm fresh eggs for my kids my girls responded the same way! They were so excited to see that “green eggs” were real! And they loved it when we found two with double yolks in the same week 🙂
I hope we all never outgrow that incredible joy at nature’s bounty!
Tracy Petitjean says
I don’t wash my eggs even when hard boiling them. I did have to wash three out of five that I collected after work today because they had a lot of poo on them. Even if it’s just a little bit I’ll just crack on the other side but these were bad enough I needed to clean them. I only used warm water and the scratchy side of a sponge because it wouldn’t rub off. I don’t have enough room on my counter to keep them there and I have two out of three cats that think they need to get up there to watch the chickens out the window and don’t need them making a mess with eggs. They know they’re not supposed to be up there even though I yell at them to get down and squirt them with water. If the cats would stay down and there was more room they’d be kept out of the fridge.
Jenn @ indigocanyonsoaps.com says
It’s so funny. All my life my mother told me that chickens were “nasty animals.” Imagine her shock when I fell in love with them and now have lots of girls running around! 😉 We are homeschoolers and I think it is such a good experience in so many ways. We love them, but in the beginning my mother’s voice had seeped into my psyche, and OCD kicked in. I was never sure if they were clean enough. Fast forward 2 years, and my story sounds a lot like the article. If there is a piece of pine or a feather I just pick it off. We don’t wash them anymore. I read a study that said the change of Salmonella in a backyard flock was so slim that your chances were like once in 80 years if at all. That was good enough for me. I’m tired of washing eggs, and I feel confident that other than the occasional dirty one, which is rare, that we are just fine. These days I cringe at the thought of store-bought. Incidentally, mom is visiting over Christmas. If she is eating eggs for breakfast, they will be from my sweet little girls, for which we are all grateful. Thanks for the great post. I always enjoy them.
The thing I’m wondering is why would you wash the egg just before you use it? If its been stored “dirty” then what is gained by washing it before you crack it? To me, its like washing a banana before you peel it. I don’t wash mine, except for the ones that go to a friend per her request. To each his own, I guess.
Because when you crack it, the dirt will come into contact with the inside of the egg and the egg will be contaminated that way.
Kim Barker says
We haven’t had chickens in a few years, but when we did, we rinsed in warm water only and stored pointed sides down. As for our broken ones, we fed them to our pigs! They loved them! We are hoping to have our coop rebuilt this spring!
Donna Shegonee says
I buy eggs from a gal that raises eggs & this is what she includes in every dozen as a printed insert.
“Unless absolutely necessary, avoid washing eggs. A freshly laid egg is coated with a moist outer membrane. This coating dries right away, forming a barrier that retards moisture loss & prevents bacteria from entering the egg. The coating is removed when an egg is washed, and the egg’s keeeping ability is thereby greatly reduced”. Quoted from “Chickens in your Backyard” book.
Thanks for the information. A couple questions. So. if an egg is particularly dirty (poop, mud, etc) is it better to keep it that way until I’m ready to eat it, and then wash it? Since it’s so porous I’d be worried about that stuff soaking inward though the shell. Also, if eggs are washed first don’t they need to go into the refrigerator rather than being set out at room temp?
Jill Winger says
If an egg is really bad, I usually just give it to my dogs. 🙂
And yes, if you do wash the eggs, it’s best to then store them in the fridge.
Beth R. says
I live in Cleveland, OH and my son and I have 5 hens. Ill have to tell him the tip about raising their roosting areas. Hes already built a hen house so Im not sure he could change it. Also, we didnt know much about hens when we started with one. But he told me not to wash the eggs until Im ready to use them. Iv always used hot water, just figured that would be better than cold. When we give them away to friends and family theyre told to wash them when they want to use them so theyre used to the debris sometimes clinging to the shells. I love your blog, Iv learned alot from it. Sometimes I kind of wish I didnt live in the city, Id love to be a homesteader and have raw milk!!!!
When my dad was young, he was of course raised on a farm! They had hundreds of chickens and when we began raising chickens he told me that his mom always washed the eggs with a little water and vinegar! When we have heavily soiled eggs, that’s what I do!! No illness yet!! I also store them on the counter, they don’t last long enough to put in the fridge.
Jill, living in Minnesota, the winters get cold. 🙂 just wondering your recommendations for handling the cracked frozen eggs in the nest boxes.
If you are eating raw eggs, isn’t there always a chance salmonella is present on the shell?
In that case, when you crack it open and the shell comes in contact with the egg, aren’t you at risk?
If I washed my eggs in warm water and natural soap, that would kill the salmonella I guess, but does that also mean the soap is absorbed into the egg?
I know your article points out that if you “have to” wash them, plain hot water is better than cold to avoid bacterial contamination (as it were). So I was curious, how does this “keep the eggs dry” theory carry over to practices like, oh say, Boiling Eggs? Is it not a problem b/c the water is boiling hot? Does the egg cook before anything can “invade” it?
I really am curious, because I never thought about it before. I never wash my eggs. I used to get “conventional” ones from the grocery, now I try to get exclusively farm fresh ones from the farmers market whenever possible, and organic from the store when I’m desperate.
The farm fresh are SO MUCH BETTER! But I have to wonder, are the farmers washing them? Because they never look dirty to me anyway. Maybe I’m just not picky 🙂
Anyway, love the article, and thanks so much for sharing (to everyone else in the comments as well)!
Dan Matthews says
Dirty eggs? Really?? My girls never leave dirty eggs. They even go as far as to deliver them to my door step. The only drawback is you have to watch where you step when going in and out. It’s my own fault really. I told them to lay them there. My little flock (7) is very tame and well behaved.
No egg washing. Store them on the stove for days. Can be left out in the heat of summer, no problem. Never had a bad egg in 2 years. When the girls are in the mood, they can crank out the eggs. They slow down a bit during molting.
rick werbeski says
when I first got chickens 8 yrs ago, I left them unwashed in the kitchen during summer heat , over 1/2 of them turned green inside they also floated like balloons in water . I now store in fridge unwashed and test float them to make sure they sink (I found that eggs that float were usually bad) wash them in hot water and cook immediatly frying or placing into boiling water have not had a bad egg since and I eat atleast 3 eggs to start the day, at 60 it gives me a good start on the day for givin ‘er on the farm
Whenever I got, cracked from freezing or excessively dirty eggs I just cook them and feed them back to the chickens or to the dog. Only time I threw one out was when it was sitting directly in a pile of chicken poo. Should have taken a picture of that one. … It was perfectly vertical and right in the center of a chicken turd under a perch like she was sleeping and happened to lay one.
My eggs are washed. I use dawn dish soap (just the regular that they use to clean birds in oil spills, not the antibacterial) and HOT water with a soft nail brush and then immediately dry thoroughly. I have had good results with this method and neither I or my customers have ever gotten sick from my eggs.
Oh. My. Chook. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! 🙂 I consider myself a well-researched person, past research told me to wash the eggs so when you crack them any bacteria etc doesn’t transfer to the egg, and to wash in cold water as hot will cook the egg…. I will never wash my eggs again, if necessary due to excessive poop etc will wash just prior to eating. All the comments contributed to the article so thanks to all. Mind-blown due to getting this info wrong for so long. Again, THANK YOU! 😀
Megan K says
I am giggling so much right now because I just crack them on the clean side too!
Jill Winger says
Amy Patrick says
When breaking eggs, I just learned to crack the egg on a flat surface, instead of the edge of a pan or bowl. This helps prevent any dirt or bacteria from entering the egg. Another way to avoid having to wash them.
I would think that whether or not they are cracked on a flat surface or not, you still have to dig into the shell with your fingers to get it separated and the egg would be contaminated, no matter how the egg was initially cracked. No?
Jay Faulconer says
We do clean our eggs, but use hot water, a small amount of dishwashing liquid, and a homegrown luffa sponge. The luffa is abrasive AND gentle and takes care of any muck.
I wash my eggs in plain warm water. I didn’t worry if it was “dirty” looking. I figured it’s coming through the same vent that the poopy comes through, so big deal if some ends up on the outside. I wash it off. Some eggs won’t look as pretty, but we’ve never gotten sick from them, so they seem to be clean enough.
Most countries don’t wash and refrigerate eggs like we do. I travel to Africa a couple of times a year; we buy flats of unwashed eggs and leave them out. The only thing we do differently is we always break eggs into a small bowl before adding to a recipe, to make sure it’s ok. Even the eggs at the local expat grocery has “dirty” eggs. It’s not a big deal – wipe them off when you’re about to use them. It’s great not to have fridge space taken up with them, too. Around here (coastal community) you can get “sailor’s eggs” which aren’t cleaned and refrigerated. (Most sailboats don’t have anything other than a true ice box, and don’t have room in those for eggs!) You just have to ask the local community market or farmer not to wash them for you.
I don’t wash them, but try to pick cleaner ones when I’m giving them to someone who is potentially squeamish. I only rinse them if they’re dirty right before I use them. However, if it comes down to offering a box of dirty-ish eggs and they turn them down because of that… they don’t deserve eggs from my girls!
We wash our eggs here, only because our chickens cover the eggs in mud (and they even have roosting areas above the nesting boxes). Just water and some light scrubbing with our hands. When they are mud free, they are wiped dry and placed in cartons.
Hey newbie here, but have a question that I don’t think has been answered already! If you are not washing them is it fine to put them in a fridge if that makes you feel better? Or does that put bacteria into them with how cold your eggs are getting? Thanks ahead of time!
Jill Winger says
I usually store mine in the fridge–mostly b/c I don’t have a lot of counter space. 🙂
I don’t have my own chickens but a friend will occasionally give me a dozen or two from her chickens. She gives them to me unwashed and I just rinse the ones I am about to cook in warm water right before I use them to avoid having anything fall off the outside of the egg into my pan.
Thanks for the info! I am a city-dwellling, homesteader-wannabe. I friend gave me almost 4 dozen “dirty” eggs, which led me to your site. He said to clean them in warm water with a brush. After reading all the posts here, I’ve determined that he apparently does not have the cleanest hen house, because there was a lot of poop on these eggs. Also, my kids collected all these eggs in one day from about 12 hens. So I’m curious about how long the eggs had been in there before we got them, and whether there would be any safety issues with them being collected after sitting awhile (maybe that’s why they’re dirty). Also, I began cleaning them prior to looking up the info online. I put them all in a basin of luke-warm water and let them sit while I cooked dinner. After dinner, I brushed each egg off with a toothbrush and rolled it in clean room-temp water, and left them laying on a sheet in the kitchen while I searched for this info. So, now what? I’ve put them in the fridge, but am a little leery about whether I’ve introduced any bacteria into them through my cleaning method. Oh, and three of them were cracked. I found them as I was brushing each one, so they had all been soaking in the water together for awhile. I would like to cook some for myself to make sure they’re good before feeding them to my family or sharing them with friends. Or should I just chuck them in the compost and wait for another batch? If they’re bad, how sick would I get? Feeling bad for a day or hospital-grade salmonella? Thanks!
Everyday I collect and count our eggs, spray water on them in the sink for 1 second, rub them with a washcloth and put them in cartons on my counter top until I have the amount needed for each sale. I don’t put them in the refrigerator because often during delivery they don’t arrive to their destination for many hours. So, rather then have them go to and from extreme temperatures I keep them as close to the same temperature as possible until delivery.
Maria Ranbarger says
I have duck egg a lot of people don’t buy if I don’t wash them. How long can duck eggs sit out before washing , an after washing them , I was told to put in refrigerator after washing please help. I no the Amish don’t refrigerat there’s what is the right why Thank you Maria
I soak my duck and chicken eggs in vinegar water for a few minutes and lightly scrub them before use.
Garett Mauro says
It may be kind of a late reply, but I read your blog nonetheless. So now my question I have in mind is how long will non-refrigerated eggs last in a cool place? Whats considered cool? How much longer will the eggs last? I live in socal so its hardly cool in the summer time!
Have been getting eggs from the neighbor. Love them!!!
His set up is OK, not the cleanest. There’s usually a lot of poop on the eggs. As long as we wash them good b4 eating should we be OK?
very interesting thread going on here, im not quite sure what to do now, we have a dozen hens and love the fresh eggs,however last summer i got a severe case of campylobacter bacterial infection, a very dangerous stomage and intestinal infection,i am 65yr old,it put me in the hospital with spiking high temp and total run away diarea, they were very concerned putting two doctors on my case,both doing detailed examination and wanting to know everything i touched or ate, this bac. can lie in the gut for weeks before you get sick,its very often from poultry contact,touching the birds,eating contaminaded eggs or just handling raw meat, i hope to NEVER get this again,ive been washing my eggs with clear hot water and storing in fridge since,we never kill and eat any of our birds, both doctors agreed i was exposed handling/eating chicken eggs, scary stuff,mabey washing just before use a better idea,i will add we live in fla. that coop is hot and humid in july,perfect enviro for bac. to thrive, i know eggs dont spoil for long periods unrefridgerated but more concerned with whats colinizing on them on the outside,those dirty eggs just sitting there in your kitchen or even worse in your fridge with your veggies, that trouble waiting to get you, JUST SAYIN
i might add,,, many people have been exposed to this bac. and dont know it, oh i must have eaten something bad, in most less severe cases it will pass within a few days, however the bac. enters the intestinal wall doing permenent damage,again with out you knowing, a further bad sickness and death can occure sometime down the road,google it,educate yourself, beware, i was warned that if in the future i feel any numbness in my hands or feet, RUN DONT WALK TO THE NEAREST HOSPITAL makes me wonder whats going on in the kitchen at the resturant,this bac. can contaminate food prep surfaces and get on uncooked foods, salads sandwitches ect. bad stuff, you wash those eggs then you touch the door handle ect, then your child opens the door and touches mouth or nose,not trying to freak people out here but once you wash those egg then what? sterolize your hands,sterolize that wash rag? many coments and suggestions here, im not buying most of it,,,,
Jesseca Jackson says
How about using hot water and white vinegar to clean the eggs? I did this today and hope it’s ok. Any ideas?
In Finland the eggs that are sold in the store are never washed and never refridgerated. When I visited Hawaii and California I was wondering why eggs are sold from the refridgerator, I had to google about it. Found out, the eggs need no wash because of the bacteria-thing, and are better in room temperature. But if eggs are washed (like it seems to be in USA), then needs to be refridgerated.
Pat Kennedy says
My wife works at a facility that packs and ships medical grade eggs for research, vaccines etc…
Do not wash eggs, scraping them is okay, if especially dirty, discard, clean nesting area
Do not use any soaps or bleach, the shell is very porous
Fresh eggs will keep for three months if near 45 degrees
If boiling, wait 30 days for membrane to separate from shell
I used to have a client who lived to be 96 years old. He was on the front lines in Germany during World War II. He told me the story several times about the time they found some fresh eggs as they were coming through a town. He said that you could store eggs in a pail of water at room temp and they’d stay fresh for 30 days. He said they were so happy that night they all had real eggs for dinner.
Clarification: They found them already in the bucket of water. They didn’t know how long the eggs had been there, but they were still fresh and very edible. He says that’s the way they stored eggs over there.
I don’t understand the part about “if boiling, wait 30 days for membrane to separate from shell”. Thanks
I grew up on a dairy farm, but never saw the inside of the barn except the milkhouse. My older brothers and sisters (6 of them) worked on the farm while growing up. They all had farm chores and by the time my youngest sister and I got old enough, my father had hired help. Our’chores’ were helping my mother clean the house and get milk from the milk house. Because I know nothing about farming (inside and outside the barn), I really enjoy learning from you.
We grew up believing our farm was the best in town (I’m sure the other farm children did too; it was a farming community /town. When I had a new boyfriend, I can remember proudly showing off the farm…until he started asking questions, like, how many cows do you have? what kind of cows do you have? what do you feed them? etc. I then had to admit my ignorance….but he still married me!! Thank you again for this blog. 🙂
Marjorie McNay says
I took a food safety course, (We have a bed and breakfast). The chef who taught the course said it’s always all right to keep eggs unrefrigerated.
Advice on Internet said that if you wash eggs, they should be cold and the water very hot. It also said never use detergent. All of this was twenty years ago, but it seemed to make sense. I see no reason to clean them for myself.
Best I love to take eggs from the nest, and come in and cook them for me and my fourteen year old Lab.
Hi, I found your article on washing eggs very interesting. I don’t wash my eggs until right before I use them. I was using warm water to clean my muddy feet eggs when they appeared. Then I read another persons article about not washing in warm/hot water as it caused that same vacuum effect you talk about, so then I changed to cool water, now I’m confused. I refrigerate my eggs until I wash them so, if I keep the water more on the cooler side wouldn’t this make the egg shell stay the same temperature and not draw in the bacteria?
I store my at room temp, then wash with cool/room temp water and hand soap right before cracking. I guess I fall somewhere in the middle of the egg wash spectrum.
I just pick off any bits of straw and keep them like that in a box on the side. I run each egg under water, rubbing it with my thumbs until I can feel the texture change and use it immediately. My family and friends are happy to do the same.
Emma lander says
I don’t wash them, even when they are filthy. The washing freaks me know it more than the dirt 🙂
My husband’s grandmother gives us eggs from her chickens, and I just rinse off each egg as I pull it out of the carton. That way, the coating stays intact and I don’t have to wash 36 eggs all at once!
I agree with the comment to wash then oil (wax) the eggs. I won’t put dirty eggs in my fridge or use them when cooking, but I understand the necessity to protect the eggs from bacteria. I wash all eggs (visibly dirty or not) by putting them under warm running water and using a dedicated vegetable scrubber to wipe them. I put them on a drying rack or hand dry them with a towel. Then I rub oil on them and put them in an egg carton. I keep mine in a dedicated fridge but only because I do not have shelves in my root cellar yet. I have read they should stay good for up to 5-6 months in a root cellar. Because we do not sell our eggs (though we give them to friends who share goodies with us) we have eaten eggs up to 3 months old and they are perfectly fine. I see a lot of readers use a dab of bleach or soap. Though it may not make you sick on the spot, just keep in mind that egg shells are porous. Putting soap or bleach on a porous egg shell with the egg (your food) inside it is not the same as putting soap on a dish, rinsing the soap off, then putting food on it later. Not saying anyone is wrong here, just food for thought.
Sorry to burst your “bloom” but results from a scanning electron microscopy of washed and unwashed eggs found no evidence that washing changed the quality of the cuticle (bloom): http://eggnology.com/JFP-Egg-Washing.pdf
In fact, of the samples used, double the number of brown eggs (6 v 3) had no cuticle at all to start with! And the “natural” distribution of coverage across the egg surface is only perfectly “even” from 0 to 30% at best which must be attributed to other unknown factors at the time of laying that washing has nothing to do with.
Rhonda Lowry says
I totally agree with you about cleaning eggs. I use a product called tough and tender sprayed on cloth or paper towel to clean soiled eggs (which happen every now and then).
Lazy K says
If they are for my use I’ll wash them just before I use them. If I’m giving them to someone: Clean eggs go right into the carton. I try to remove any debris with a damp cloth and then dry the egg. I try to keep the “dirtier” eggs for myself but sometimes use a pot scrubber to dislodge stuck on nesting material etc. I always do this just before I give the eggs away. And I inform the person I’m giving the eggs to that they should be cleaned just before using.
Fred farms says
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I need some help… I am looking to store my egg over a long period of time using hydrated lime. I live in Southern California but I can not get a farmer to sell me unwashed eggs. The only luck I have had is an egg farmer who “washes” his eggs with hot water only. Will the hyrated lime still work and preserve eggs for a long period of time?
Rosemary Peek says
I have a question and welcome any comments. I normally don’t wash my eggs until ready to use. I store them on my kitchen counter.
I have one hen affectionately named Houdini because she flies the run every morning. I will usually let them all out in the early afternoon to run the property. This being said, Houdini has taken to laying her eggs wherever. I’ve found several clutches on different occasions. My question is, if her eggs were exposed to rain, has the bloom been damaged? If I find them quick enough -before exposed to rain-I will keep them.
Can you help a fairly new chicken tender with some answers? Thanks
Lillie Kaminski says
I just have a question. I do not wash my eggs and I do not put them in the refrigerator. I leave them sitting on the counter. When I give a dozen eggs away to someone I always tell them to make sure they wash them before they crack them. Question is this good or bad? Thank you for your help. The
Ethelyn Dietrich says
I was just washing them under running water as that’s all you need to do, BUT!! I found that soaking them exposed fine cracks I didn’t see before. (You’ll see dark lines looking like a spider Web) If your eggs are cold use cold water, if not use warm water. I don’t know how long it will take to expose the cracks, but I soak for 15 minutes.
Great sound info. You have a great sense of humor. I’d go with option C too but option A seems fun. ?
Thank you for the information. New to the chick world, excited and worried.
I thread a piece of sfring through a scrubbie sponge and hang it by the hen house to remove anything clinging to the eggs before i bring them in the house.