How to clean fresh eggs was something that didn’t concern me for years.
After all, we were the only ones eating them, so if there was a spot on them or a bit of dirt, it didn’t bother me.
Since eggs automatically have something called a “bloom,” which is a natural coating on the shell that helps keep out bacteria, washing them for your own use isn’t really necessary (unless they’re super dirty).
Egg shells are naturally porous to allow for an exchange of oxygen as the chick grows. From an evolutionary standpoint, the purpose of the bloom is to keep bacteria out of the egg so the chick embryo can have a safe environment to grow. Learn more about the insides of chicken eggs.
Because of this, washing fresh chicken eggs isn’t always advised.
In fact, it can be harmful because when you wash chicken eggs, you simultaneously remove that protective barrier as well as push some bacteria in through the pores of the shell, potentially contaminating your eggs.
Once we decided to buffer our homestead income by selling eggs, however, worrying how to wash fresh eggs became quite the priority.
In our state, we’re allowed to sell fresh eggs from our homestead to other families, but since not everyone appreciates feathers and dirt, we had to figure out how to clean fresh eggs.
How to clean fresh eggs
When it comes to how to wash fresh eggs, if your chicken eggs are not really dirty, in other words, there’s no poop or other gross stuff on them, then just wipe them with a dry cloth, which leaves the protective bloom intact.
If there’s manure on your eggs, and you want to wash them, then you first need to make sure you wash them in water that’s not a drastic difference from their temperature.
This is to prevent cracking.
If the eggs are cold, use cool water. If it’s hot out (or they were just laid), and the eggs are warm, use warm water.
If it’s winter and you only want to use warm water to cut down on potential bacteria, then sit your eggs on your kitchen counter until they’re at room temperature.
To wash the fresh eggs, simply dampen a rag and wipe the egg until it’s clean. It will then need to be refrigerated because the bloom is gone, and bacteria can easily get inside it.
If you would like to go with something more involved, you can use a commercial egg washing solution.
If you don’t want to actually wash your eggs, but still want to remove manure, you can try using a very fine grain sandpaper.
Gently scrub the manure off, but don’t do it for too long and remove the egg shell accidentally.
The bloom will still be removed in those spots, so you will have to store them in the fridge.
Now, when it comes to eggs, the best thing to do is make sure they don’t get dirty in the first place.
Make sure you keep your nesting boxes clean, using shavings and/or straw to keep them fresh, and changing the bedding frequently. This will also cut down on diseases and potential pathogens. Learn more about nesting herbs here.
Another way to prevent dirty eggs is to put your nesting boxes lower in the coop than your roosting bars, and to keep the nesting boxes away from your roosting bars.
Chickens like to rest on the highest point in a coop, so if your nesting boxes are the highest spot, guess where they’ll roost?
Also, if your nesting boxes are kept under the roosting bar, then your chickens will likely poop all over them.
Chickens don’t have bladders like mammals, so they poop whenever and wherever they get the urge – avoid gnarly eggs by encouraging your hens to only lay eggs in their nesting boxes and to not use them as a bathroom.
Make sure you collect any fresh eggs from the coop frequently.
Check your nesting boxes at least daily, if possible, and remove any eggs.
The more frequently you check them, the less likely they will be pooped on.
In extreme weather, this is especially important.
Embryo development starts to happen when the internal egg temperature is 99.5 degrees, making leaving eggs out in summer heat a cause for concern.
In very cold weather, you eggs can freeze and crack.
Storing your fresh eggs
To properly store eggs, after you’ve washed them, place them in a carton with the pointy side down.
I store my eggs in a carton and not in the egg holders built into the refrigerator. Since opening and closing the door means the temperature fluxuates frequently, this can cause bacterial growth in your eggs.
Just store them in a carton on a main shelf in your fridge.
If you don’t plan to use the eggs in near future, write the date you stored them on the carton so you don’t forget how old the eggs are, and you can make sure to use the oldest eggs first.
If you’re not sure how old the eggs are, or if they’re good to eat, you can do the egg float test.
I’d like to hear from you!
Did you know how to clean fresh eggs? Will you try any of the ideas above? Leave a comment below!
Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock is my best selling book about raising healthy hens! You’ll learn how to handle sticky first aid situations, raise baby chicks with the week-by-week checklist, how to give the best care even in the worst weather, and more! Click here to learn more.
Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.