Cleaning and storing fresh eggs

Sometimes, in spite of our efforts to provide a nice clean spot for our feathered friends to deposit the rent in, we'll get a dirty egg or two.
By sumi · Jun 16, 2014 · Updated Jun 16, 2014 · ·
  1. sumi
    Cleaning eggs


    Sometimes, in spite of our efforts to provide a nice clean spot for our feathered friends to deposit the rent in, we'll get a dirty egg or two. That brings with it the question: to clean or not to clean and if so, what is the best way to clean it? In an informal survey on the forum we found that our members' opinions are 50/50 on whether or not to clean eggs and everyone has reasons for their preference. Some are worried about hygiene, some are not hassled about a little dirt, other don't want to sell/give away soiled eggs to friends and neighbours and others are worried that dirty eggs stored in the fridge will contaminate other foodstuff, such as milk. The best way to solve the dilemma of the dirty egg is to prevent it from happening in the first place. That being said, it's often easier said than done, but a few basic preventative steps can make a huge difference:

    - Make sure the nest boxes are filled with clean straw/shavings/whatever your preferred material. Check and remove soiled material and droppings often.

    - With the exception of broody hens, don't allow your birds to sleep in the nest boxes. Nest boxes are for laying eggs in and perches are for sleeping on. Make sure perches are placed higher than next boxes in the coop, to minimise temptation.

    - Try to keep dirt and mud in the coop and run to a minimum. Hens with dirty feet visiting the nest boxes to lay will mess the boxes and any eggs already in there up quickly.

    If, in spite of these precautions, you get a dirty egg and you really want/need to clean it, here are some tips: Washing the egg will take care of the dirt, but... it will also remove the natural, anti-bacterial coating on the shell, called the "bloom" making it more susceptible to bacteria and spoilage. So, if possible use a dry cleaning method, for example give the egg shell a light buff with an abrasive cleaning pad (keep a special pad in the kitchen for this purpose only). If the egg is too dirty, for example, if an egg broke in the nest box and the intact eggs have yolk and worse smeared all over them, wash the eggs under warm, running water. Cold water will cause the contents of the egg to shrink, creating a vacuum that will pull bacteria and other nasties into the egg through the porous egg shell. Warm water, on the other hand, will cause the contents to expand against the shell, preventing bacteria from entering. Do not soak eggs in the water and after washing store them in a cool place, preferably the fridge and use them before any unwashed, clean eggs. It is not necessary to use soap, bleach, vinegar or any cleaning materials when washing eggs. Warm water is enough.

    Read more:

    Storing eggs

    (egg skelter on Amazon)
    According to an old joke, the best way to keep an egg fresh, is to keep it inside the hen. Unfortunately that is not an option! Most chicken owners get fresh eggs daily and use them within a week. Fresh laid eggs will be quite fine sitting out on the kitchen counter for up to a month, depending on the temperature in your kitchen, but after two weeks the quality will have dropped noticeably. For longer storage and for washed eggs, storage in a cool place, like the fridge, is recommended. Eggs will stay fresher even longer in the fridge if stored in egg cartons, which will minimise moisture loss through their porous shells.

    **Did you know commercial egg farmers have 30 days from the day an egg is laid to get it to stores. Then, the stores have another 30 days to sell the eggs. The USDA recommends a maximum of 5 weeks in your refrigerator before you discard your eggs. What does this all boil down to? On April 1, you could be eating an egg that was laid on Christmas! Another good reason to keep your own hens for eggs! But it goes to show that under correct storage conditions, eggs can last and stay quite edible for months.​

    Read more:

    Another long term storage option is freezing. This method works quite well, but freezing and defrosting wreaks havoc on the quality of the egg contents.

    Read more:

    For more on eggs, egg laying and storage visit our Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying and Egg, Chicken, & Other Favorite Recipes forum sections.

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Recent User Reviews

  1. jlaffeldt
    "Great Info!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Apr 30, 2019
    Well written, concise, and to the point. Loved it!
  2. WannaBeHillBilly
    "Very informative and fun to read"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Apr 29, 2019
    I did not know that you can store eggs without refrigeration for such a long time.
    The idea of harvesting clean eggs is good, but won't work with ducks! I explained my ducks so many times the purpose of those boxes in their house - the ignore them and lay their eggs wherever they just pop out.
  3. Cadence A Waller
    "Very Informative Article!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Apr 20, 2019
    WannaBeHillBilly likes this.


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  1. t3wine
    Thank you, I found the info about warm vs cold water especially helpful.
  2. 007Sean
    Good article, info about eggs most people don't know or never really think about.
      sumi likes this.
  3. BigBlueHen53
    Wow, I have often wondered how old commercial eggs are.... 3 months plus a week, 97 days, just under 100 days, amazing! Good to know, thanks!

    Glad to know I've been doing it right, rinsing under warm running water. If needed I gently wipe any dirty eggs with a moist paper towel. Any that are really stained don't get sold but are kept for our own use, and any that are cracked go in a separate container and are scrambled for the dog, who guards the hens.
      sumi likes this.
  4. jsimplytx125
    Great information. Thank you so much!
      sumi likes this.
  5. KevinandJudy
    We wash any dirty eggs in warm water, with a couple drops of Dawn. I won’t break a dirty egg for fear of the dirt falling into the egg. I won’t put chicken poop in my fridge anymore than I would put dog poop in it.
    We give away all eggs we don’t need. We have people who buy the eggs at Walmart to cook with & keep out eggs just for eating. They think our eggs are that good. So do we :)
  6. ValerieJ
    Great article and advice. Living in Washington where it rains a lot, I regularly get dirty eggs, so I do wash them in warm water and refrigerate. They have never gone bad. In the early days I didn't, but after a while it started to bother me. I am germ cautious in a lot of ways so I find this to be a decision each person has to make for themselves. Either way, the proper storage of the egg will ensure it's quality and freshness.
      BigBlueHen53 and sumi like this.
  7. ttrackwell
    Thank you for this article, very useful
      WannaBeHillBilly and sumi like this.
  8. Wylderness10
    Now I know why my father in law told me not to wash fresh eggs! I was rinsing them under warm water and using soap, because they were soiled and then putting them in the fridge. From reading the comments, I think I probably need to deworm my chickens now, because some of my eggs are full of..well you know. :) This article really set me straight on how to properly store and clean fresh eggs.
      WannaBeHillBilly and sumi like this.
    1. nightowl223
      Um, no, we DON'T know... they could be full of about anything, from egg, to chick fetuses, to worms (REALLY unusual), to bits of tissue from the chicken (very normal), to another egg... to probably several other things. If you're not specific, you're not being very helpful.
  9. Atwood CA Chicken Ranch
    WOW! I was raised on an egg ranch (never had a store egg until I left home). I had no idea that the eggs purchased in the market could be so old. No wonder they are so flat when you crack them open. :barnie
  10. Corys chickens
    this was very good information for me thank you
      WannaBeHillBilly and sumi like this.
    Would it go the same for quail eggs??? My quail are about to lay here in 1 week
      WannaBeHillBilly likes this.
    1. nightowl223
      Quail eggs are much more delicate. You need a soft place where they can lay them, and one that you can keep clean. I prefer sandboxes for them to lay in. No matter what, they will not last as long as chicken eggs. I will put any in to hatch them if they are over 5 days old, or feed them back to the chickens (the quail don't show any interest in eating them, whether boiled or scrambled). I would not suggest using any over 7 days old - and check them very carefully for cracks, as the shell is MUCH more fragile.
  12. Momma_Tillie
      WannaBeHillBilly likes this.
  13. Reno
    Good to know.
      WannaBeHillBilly and sumi like this.
  14. Abriana
    The pic that you click on to read the article is literally the best idea ever!! :)
      WannaBeHillBilly and sumi like this.
  15. Ashria
    Great article! I learned so much about eggs! Thank you all very much!
      sumi likes this.
  16. Sandra Verbreyt
    Where oh where can I purchase this spiral egg rack . I have looked in every shop and can not find one anywhere. I live in Belgium.
      WannaBeHillBilly likes this.
    1. northflchicken
      You can order one from Amazon. If you search "egg skelter" and refine the results by brand (check egg skelter along the left side of the screen) this one and other colors should show up. Hope you find it!
      P.S. There are other cheaper brands too! I'm torn between getting a pretty color like this or a plain color for a fraction of the price.
      Maryannsimm likes this.
  17. Abriana
    I love the egg skelter!!
      WannaBeHillBilly likes this.
  18. BubbaLikesIt
    We get 9 to 14 eggs per day. Children eat the most eggs and the stock is kept to about 3 or 4 days old. However, I have found that if you put eggs in the refrigerator for 3 weeks, they peel like a champ after boiling. Fresh eggs don't peel very well. I know what you're thinking, so stop it. I've tried every technique there is on the planet to boil a fresh egg. You may get lucky, but most peel terribly.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Juliemarso
      if you really want to peel a fresh egg perfectly, do them in an instantpot. they peel very well...fresh out the hen too. you can peel them with one hand.
    3. BubbaLikesIt
      Instant pot? Do you mean a pressure cooker?
      WannaBeHillBilly likes this.
    4. Sparrowsong98
      I have found that taking the eggs out of the pan and putting in a glass with some water and putting your hand over the top of the glass and shaking the whole thing for a little bit makes tough peelers easy. I am not sure how it works, but I think that once the egg gets a crack the water can slip under the membrance and loosens the shell. At any rate, that works great. Hope this helped!
      WannaBeHillBilly likes this.
  19. fur-mum
    I keep mine on the counter in an egg skelter, which I love. If they make it to a month old, which they do at peak production, (sometimes I just don't want another egg to eat), they get hard cooked and used to supplement my puppy's breakfast. He loves them! :ya
      Bar B, nightowl223, Yardmom and 3 others like this.
  20. ShouldabeenaVET
    just an FYI the super cute egg skelter did not work for me. I felt it was a total waste of money, I now just put egg cartons on the counter with the newest on the bottom. I make pickled eggs all the time. I use the juice from refrigerator pickles and throw in some dried hot red peppers. Grown kids love em.
  21. ChickNanny13
    New to raising hens ... Just learning I'm storing/washing WRONG :oops:
    I have 4 BOs that have been laying since Oct '17, it does get warm here (90 - low 100) at times & no AC. I collect eggs daily, put them in an egg carton on the counter, when it's filled put in the frig, not washed. Washing when used under tap water. I give away at about 3 doz a month to family informing them it's to wash before using.

    My thinking the BLOOM seals the egg, therefore why wash it off until you need to use it. Then again, my girls are clean layers so eggs very rarely soiled so learning not necessary to even wash.

    SO I'm really confused ....
    1. pamelajean
      This is exactly what I have been doing. Also confused and not sure what I want to do moving forward...
    2. nightowl223
      There is NO need to wash eggs that aren't covered in filth. NONE at all. Washing them DOES remove the bloom, and the bloom DOES seal the egg from any germs getting in. This article just brushes past those details, though I've no idea why.

      From what I read of what you are doing, there is no reason to change.
      ChickNanny13 and Bar B like this.
  22. Jennifer Travis
    I'm surprised to not see a single comment from anyone about making pickled eggs! Lol! Whenever we have had more eggs than we think we might use in a certain time frame, we will boil them and make pickled eggs. They never last in our house. I have even made deviled eggs from pickled eggs, we loved them!
    1. wegotchickens1234
      My husband makes pickled eggs a lot, but I am not fond of them so he gets to enjoy all the pickled ones. :)
  23. The Chicken-Boy
    Great article! The thing that gets me is that anyone that sells eggs are required by law to wash any eggs that they are going to sell. Apparently this is supposed to reduce the amount of salmonella in the egg. However the biggest spike in salmonella infections happened right after that law was instituted! In Europe all laying hen must be vaccinated against salmonella and no washed eggs can be sold. The vaccine has been proven 99% affective!

    Anyway, something to think about! Awesome article!
    1. nightowl223
      Many of those laws have to do with large operations, and anyone under a certain size of flock, or certain number of eggs sold a month, are not covered by those laws. I would definitely check if I were you. I do know that the laws where I live are different, and anyone with sales below (if memory serves) 100 dozen a month are not required to do anything with them.
      Bar B likes this.
  24. extrememainer
    Usually when my eggs are dirty I clean their nesting areas and the eggs look clean.
  25. GiseleH
    Great info! Didn't realize store eggs were that old
  26. Calen
    We get more eggs than we can use so if the eggs are really dirty, I break them on the trees so the critters can eat them. I do give some eggs away, but I like to give the clean eggs away. I keep the in-betweens, lol. I keep my eggs on the counter until I have time to move them into cartons in the refrigerator, which sometimes never happens, and the older eggs get boiled for the dogs. I keep them in an egg flat in day order so that I know which ones are the freshest. I usually end up floating the eggs because my husband is not able to follow directions for the egg flat. :)
  27. janz70
    I personally use baby sterilising tablets in warm water to wash them.

    Im probably being over cautious but I know when egg produces wash the they use a similiar thing called egg wash and it will help keep the bug count down
  28. LoveMyChicks12
    I found this very interesting. As a newbie I'm trying to learn all I can. Thanks. :D
    1. nightowl223
      As a newbie, you need to realize this is one person's way of doing things, and not everyone does the same thing. For example, I do not ever wash eggs until I am ready to use them, and I advise anyone who buys my eggs to do the same, as they last much longer that way. If eggs are too dirty, I leave them out to break them for my critters to eat them, without ever bringing them inside.
  29. cra-zchicknlady
    We usually keep ours sitting on the counter. Any longer than a week or two, and I float them to see if they're still good. I had to get rid of the hen who pooped on her egg. Every. Time. Last straw, she started trying to bully my toddler. Dry rubbing with a terry cloth dish towel usually took care of her messy egg.
  30. yogamebird
    Would love to know where that fabulous red wire storage device came from!
    1. lashbear
      Google "Egg Ramp" There's lots of sellers and many different prices out there.
  31. lilapot
    We have heard about the not refrigerating, and have also heard that if you refrigerate them, then take them out they go bad.
      WannaBeHillBilly and Diannastarr like this.
    1. jinxie2300
      Chilling them makes the insides shrink, potentially sucking a small amount of nasties inside the tiny pores of the shell. Which is fine if they stay chilled as the nasties can't reproduce at low temps. But if you then put them back on the counter, the nasties can breed like crazy, producing enough to potentially harm whoever eats the egg.
  32. lilapot
    Amazing article! I was just wondering this.
  33. oldhen2345
    Everyone can have a dirty egg on occasion, but I thought that consistently dirty eggs means the chicken needs to be dewormed. I use DE on mine and it works. After a week or so of DE, no more dirty eggs. Now I just give it to them daily on top of their feed.
    1. nightowl223
      DE won't stop a worm infestation, or prevent one. Consistently dirty eggs can be caused by many things. Some hens have a bloom that stays sticky a bit longer, and stuff sticks to the outside of the egg easier. Some nestboxes are set up where they will collect crud, and need to be cleaned more regularly. Sometimes it has to do with the weather, too. It can even be caused by poor nutrition! It's possible the DE has enough calcium in it that it helps their nutrition. But it's not possible that it wormed them. That's just not how science works. Sorry.
    2. Bar B
      I use DE in the girls feed and after every coop , run cleaning. I dust the whole environment! I use food safe DE which can be found on Amazon. I truly believe it works and it keeps our Chicks healthy. A clean coop is a happy coop!
  34. KarennFallon
    Thank you for all your comments. Ha! One thing I've learned after one full season of chickens and what to do with them in each situation is that there is NO written in stone way to do ANYthing! I love all the different recommendations and methods and it just gives me the confidence to pick and choose what works best for me. And it's working great so far. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
  35. redblack10
    Great article - basic, clear information. I never wash my girls' "perfect" eggs, and I tell my customers. If I am gathering several dozen for a Boy Scout hike and camp, I do not refrigerate, because they will not refrigerate. They really appreciate the thick shells! Ones with little bits of whatever - a trickle of warm water and my fingers to gently clean, then air dry. When I get a really soiled egg, I check my girls to see who needs a fluffy butt trimmed, and I give it to my dogs or rinse and eat it myself.

    Regarding the temperature of water for rinsing: I don't think the few seconds will warm or cool the egg itself. Rather, the air molecules will be affected. Just watch, when you start to hard-boil. Air leaves the egg, forming little bubbles. So - it's probably safer to use water that is warmer than the egg, to create an outward movement of air molecules.
  36. Amy caldwell
    Never wash eggs in warm water as the will start to cook.. always wash them in nothing but cold water with no soap or anything in it
    1. jinxie2300
      'Warm' in this case refers to slightly above room temp. Just a few degrees above the egg. Definitely NOT anything one would call hot, or even really warm. :)
      nightowl223 and WannaBeHillBilly like this.
    2. nightowl223
      Jinxie2300 is correct - we are not talking about 200F water, just 100F water, LOL! Besides, even 200F water will not start cooking the egg in only a few seconds. Science just doesn't work like that.
  37. mamatink7
    Our worst looking eggs always come after a rain storm. Husband always wants customers to have spotless eggs. Our customers don't mind and I only wipe cleaner if really bad. This is rainy season and most are horrible.
    1. abcn123s
      Our eggs definitely look worse this winter when we’ve had snow, thaw, snow, thaw
      nightowl223 and WannaBeHillBilly like this.
  38. robyn youlten
    Thank you SO much for these articles...but I am a little confused after reading the various comments! We clean off any dirt with a soft scourer - a dry one - and refrigerate our eggs.Do the usual float test before cooking.Our eggs are so beautiful they don't get time to go off!! Happy eating!! cluck cluck!! GREETINGS FROM Oz!!
      nightowl223 and WannaBeHillBilly like this.
  39. HowieChickenMan
    my wife puts fresh eggs in cold water soaks a little while then cleans them place in cartons and refrigerates them, then give them to our friends and we had no complaints but all thanks for best organic eggs they had. Does anyone know anything about that hogwash :)
      WannaBeHillBilly likes this.
    1. nightowl223
      Cold water washes IF an egg is directly refrigerated and stays refrigerated are just fine. The discussion was about leaving eggs OUT. If you leave eggs out that have been washed in cold water, there is a higher probability that germs can have been soaked into the egg and start to proliferate into something NO ONE wants to deal with after even a little while left out.
  40. 66stang
    My 2 cents. If warm water expands the contents of the egg, does it not also expand the shell making it more porous and also if using cold water shrinks the contents inside, doesn't it also shrink the shell making it less porous?
      WannaBeHillBilly and Feathermore like this.
    1. jinxie2300
      Inner liquids shrink faster than the solid shell. Warm water is not THAT warm, just slightly above room temp.
      nightowl223 and WannaBeHillBilly like this.
    2. nightowl223
      There is a membrane between the shell and the inner contents. The shell will allow germs in if washed in water colder than the egg, simply due to physics, and the shell will not shrink fast enough to stop it. Warm water doesn't expand the contents of the egg, but it does create a negative environment between the inside and the outside, preventing anything from the outside getting into the inside. It's a basic rule of thermodynamics.
  41. jeffkerle65
    I have washed & sold eggs for 3 and a half decades and never had a problem or any complaints from any of my customers. I wash them in clean water (rain water out of a tank not tap water) at room temperature, scrub them with a cotton wash cloth & dry them with a towel. Then put them in a clean carton & store them at the bottom of the fridge. I have had eggs keep good for up to 14 days. Fertile eggs will keep at room temperature for 10 days before you set them for hatching in an incubator.
    1. nightowl223
      Quote: " & store them at the bottom of the fridge." That's not what the discussion about water temps was about. Washed eggs must be refrigerated, period. Cleaning spots off with hot water is MUCH different than washing and refrigerating eggs.
  42. nugget_night
    I use metal scrub to get off poo or dirt marks and clean with peroxide as it does not break the bearer. Eggs can be left out but loose nutrition daily.
      WannaBeHillBilly and Diannastarr like this.
    1. Texgal57
      Just curious how you know peroxide doesn't break he barrier? It seems like it would if plain water will do it. This topic is one I've been struggling with!
      nightowl223 and WannaBeHillBilly like this.
    2. nightowl223
      Peroxide can and does break the barrier created by the bloom. There is no way it cannot. If they are not washed all over with peroxide, they can still be left out, but the bloom barrier has definitely been breached. Luckily, peroxide is killing any germs that might be at that spot where it's being used on the egg, BUT - if it comes in contact with any potential germs (which can be there whether or not you see any dirt!) in the spot where you['ve broken the bloom barrier, it can still cause germs to get into the egg and start to proliferate. You have just been lucky so far. Because, again, peroxide definitely breaks the bloom's barrier!
  43. Diannastarr
    my eggs if dirty go unwashed but kept separated in little refrigerator ,then washed just at the time of use , all for our family use , but all my eggs i sell, i test them for freshness all the time but after a month old, then i usually i hard boil the oldest ones but always check a few to see if they are still good and then if good we will eat them hard boiled & if i have a lot i crushe them up & feed to my hens shells & all , but just recently i started freezing them for future use , i have some tiny plastic containers with lids the size of a golf ball. i save from Gerber baby apple sauce ,those really come in handy for freezing raw eggs in their own little container with a lid, i tried a few that were frozen for months to see how they taste , since i had read that frozen raw eggs were not very good tasting , but i gotta say they were wonderful & just as good as fresh laid ...! & if you choose to freeze your fresh eggs they are still dam good ...! so go for it :thumbsup
  44. featherhead007
    There is only a few things I know about ducks,,, they quack, waddle around on webbed feet,
    swim, and, well.......
      WannaBeHillBilly likes this.
  45. Tazbeaux
    I always wash my eggs, have been doing so for several years and never had any issues what so ever. I have even had customers thank me for washing my eggs before selling them. I wash them under warm running water with a scrubbing sponge, then lay them out on a towel to dry. When dry they go in cartons and into the fridge. In these days of modern refrigeration I just feel that there are more health risks involved with, storing chicken poop in my refrigerator along side of other foods, handling chicken poop while preparing food and cracking dirty eggs can get it into your food. I'll wash thank you,
  46. FlyWheel
    I have a question. You state:
    "Cold water will cause the contents of the egg to shrink, creating a vacuum that will pull bacteria and other nasties into the egg through the porous egg shell. Warm water, on the other hand, will cause the contents to expand against the shell, preventing bacteria from entering"
    When the contents which have been expanded by the warm water cool and shrink wouldn't they have the same results?
      WannaBeHillBilly likes this.
    1. wildknives
      no. because you have washed away all the dirt. So there is nothing to get back in.
      nightowl223 and WannaBeHillBilly like this.
  47. Nardo
    I have struggled with this because I have one specific hen that consistently lays poop encrusted eggs. I guess she doesn't poop beforehand and it all gets squeezed out at once. Maybe too graphic, but I do have to wash her eggs. Good news is she is the oldest and is slowing down her laying. . . .
    1. Kates Chooks
      Chickens can't poop and lay an egg at the same time. When the egg is coming out, it 'squeezes' the 'poop chute' closed.
    2. jinxie2300
      If her eggs are always poopy, she likely needs to be wormed.
    3. nightowl223
      Please ignore jinxie's advice above - it has nothing to do with needing wormed. That's nonsense. What she probably DOES need is to have the feathers around her vent trimmed off. They can sometimes get encrusted and collect fresh poop that will then get on the egg when it's laid. Extra fluffy breeds such as Cochins are more prone to needing trimmed.
  48. ChickityChina
    Really good info here. I was asked by a friend about the differences in washing with cold vs. warm water (as I always wash with warm), and I didn't have a good scientific answer for her, other than it seems to clean them better. =) This provided me with information I could relay to her that might actually be helpful. This is also a very good guide for anyone who might be just starting out with laying hens for the first time. Well done!
      WannaBeHillBilly and Ggma5 like this.
  49. mobius
    I just got my skelter yesterday (as pictured above) and it holds two dozen eggs! And they DO roll to the bottom! Yay!
      WannaBeHillBilly likes this.
  50. EggSighted4Life
    Maybe your skelter is better than mine. Mine should be called a scrambler!
      nightowl223 and WannaBeHillBilly like this.
    1. sharol
      I've had one for 6 years or so. I ordered it from England before they were available in the US. Be sure to put the small end on the egg to the inside, and it will work better. Also, if the eggs are all similar in size they will roll better. As long as I remove them one at a time it works like a charm.

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