It’s a dilemma for chicken keepers everywhere, especially when we enjoy sharing or selling our overabundance of eggs with others. For some it seems like a no-brainer – Do you know where chicken eggs come from?!? For others who come from families who have kept chickens for generations, washing eggs seems unnecessary and even detrimental.
It’s true, there are arguments to be made for not washing eggs. God knew what he was doing when he created chickens to lay eggs. Eggs have a natural coating – called bloom – that keeps them fresher longer. Washing removes that bloom. In fact, getting eggs wet at all, increases the chance of bacteria entering the eggshell. Also, chickens like their eggs to stay clean. If you provide a clean nest box, chickens are unlikely to soil it. Keeping the nest box clean is much easier when you have a roost that is higher than the nest box (chickens will sleep as high as possible – if the nest box is the highest point, that’s where they will sleep – and poo). Clean nest boxes mean mostly clean eggs. Most chicken keepers who hold to the “no washing” philosophy will use a cloth, brush, or even sandpaper to remove the occasional dirty spot, rather than get the egg wet.
However, if you are bothered by the idea of unwashed eggs, or if you give away or sell your eggs, you might choose to wash them anyway. Here are a few things to avoid and several options to consider.
- Never wash eggs in water that is cooler than the egg itself. Cool water causes the egg to contract and draw in bacteria.
- Never put wet eggs in a foam egg carton. They will stick.
- Consider waiting to wash eggs until just before you are ready to use them.
- Remember that unwashed eggs can be kept at room temperature for about 2 weeks. Washed eggs can be kept in the refrigerator for 6 weeks or longer.
- If you use any of the cleaners listed below, rinse eggs well with warm water before and after cleaning (before to remove loose dirt so it won’t end up in your cleaning solution, after to remove the cleaners).
- Use a toothbrush to scrub stubborn stains.
- Don’t soak eggs. Rinse under running warm water. Dip into cleaning solution, but remove promptly and rub or brush gently before rinsing.
Optional cleaning solutions
- Plain water
- 3 parts water to 1 part vinegar
- Water with a mild dish detergent
- 2 cups water and 1 tsp bleach
(None of the eggs pictured were washed. My chickens usually lay very clean eggs. I had to look hard to find the dirty blue egg for an example.)