Fresh eggs shouldn't be washed until just before you use them. Here's why.

It seems logical that you should wash, or at least rinse off, the eggs you collect from your chicken coop as soon as you bring them into the house. 

After all, you rinse off garden produce you pick from our vegetable garden.

And considering where eggs come from, common sense would dictate that eggs need to be washed.

But if you ask me, "Should I wash my fresh eggs?" The short answer I would give you is "No".  Not until just before you're ready to use them. And here's why.

Do I Have to Wash my Fresh Eggs?

Eggs are laid with a nearly invisible natural coating on the shell that is applied as the last step in the laying process called the "bloom" or sometimes the "cuticle".

This coating is the first line of defense in keeping air and bacteria out of the egg. Since eggshells are porous, if you wash your eggs as soon as you collect them, you are removing that natural barrier.

The bloom helps to keep bacteria from entering into the egg white through the shell. It also helps to keep the egg fresher longer by restricting the movement of air through the pores in the eggshell.

Unwashed eggs can be collected and then left out on your kitchen counter at room temperature for several weeks, where they will still be perfectly edible, if not quite as fresh, as when they were laid.

In a perfect world, all of your chickens' eggs would be clean when you collect them from the nesting boxes. 

But we all know that oftentimes eggs are a little bit dirty (see photo, below) when you collect them. Mud, debris, broken egg yolk, and poop all can sometimes end up on the outer surface of the eggshell from time to time. 

What then?  

What about Dirty Eggs? Like Duck Eggs!

First of all, it's important to try to keep the nesting boxes as clean as possible to keep the eggs as clean as possible There are some things you can do to ensure clean eggs, but since life happens no matter what you do, you will occasionally end up with dirty eggs covered in mud or chicken poop. 

And if you raise ducks, then you know how mucky they can end up since ducks tend to lay their eggs in the most inconvenient spots.

Obviously you don't want to put dirty eggs in the fridge or even leave them on the counter. You can store them in the garage or mudroom to protect the integrity of the bloom, or you can clean them.

Instead of actually rinsing any dirty eggs off, you can gently scrub off the debris with a rough cloth, paper towel or your fingernail. This should remove the gunk but still keep the bloom intact. 

But extremely dirty eggs should be rinsed under warm running water (20 degrees warmer than the egg surface to be exact) and then refrigerated. 

Eggs should always be held under warm running water to be rinsed off. They should never be soaked in bowl or bucket of water. 

Either rinsed off one by one, or in a colander rinsed under a stream of warm water, eggs only need to be rinsed. No soaps or cleaners are needed. Just warm water.

Once an Egg has Been Washed

Once an egg has been rinsed off and had the bloom removed, it does need to be refrigerated.  

And unwashed eggs actually do benefit from being refrigerated as well. In the refrigerator, unwashed eggs will still last longer than washed eggs, and also longer than they would at room temperature (about 7 times longer to be precise). 

So if you can avoid washing your eggs, it's the preferred method, but it's not the end of the world if you have to rinse off some of the eggs.

Just be sure to immediately refrigerate any eggs that you wash. And try to use those first since the bloom has been compromised and those eggs will start aging faster and have more chance of bacteria growing inside the egg.

For more information on proper egg handling and storage, read HERE.

What about Store Bought Eggs?

Store bought eggs have been cleaned and the bloom has been removed, so they always need refrigeration after you buy them.  

It's still good practice to rinse them just before using them. Just to remove any potential bacteria.

 What if I Sell my Eggs?

If you sell your eggs, you might want to read this - different states have different egg laws that govern whether eggs should be washed or not before selling them - so it's important to know the rules where you live.

But regardless of whether you store your eggs on the counter or in the fridge, they should always be rinsed under warm water just before using them.

©2015 by Fresh Eggs Daily, Inc. and updated in 2024 for Coop to Kitchen. All rights reserved.