How to clean fresh eggs

If you just started raising chickens then I'm sure you're wondering how to clean fresh chicken eggs when your hens start laying. Well, there's a long answer and a short answer but don't worry I'll tell you both! Gathering fresh eggs from the chicken coop is one of my favorite chores and usually, that's all there is to it.

However, there are times when the eggs I gather from the nest boxes look dirty. Then there are other times when I'm picking eggs up off the coop floor because a certain hen was hogging the favorite nest box. *sigh* Pretty certain those are a bit dirty too, even if they don't have visible dirt on them.

Cleaning fresh eggs

Let's start with the short don't have to wash fresh chicken eggs. If the egg was laid in a clean nest box by a chicken in good health then the egg should be fine as it is. Eggs have a protective covering called the bloom. This natural coating seals the eggshell pores keeping bacteria out of the egg.

It's easiest to just start with clean eggs, so make sure the eggs in the nest boxes are clean. Good nest box habits like not allowing your chickens to sleep in the nest boxes definitely help, but sometimes messy nest boxes happen.

If however, the egg has visible debris on it or the nestbox had some debris in it then you might want to wash your eggs before cooking with them. (more on that below)

Storing fresh eggs

A fresh unwashed egg can be stored at room temperature. I leave mine in a basket on the kitchen counter. I leave them there up to 2 weeks, though many backyard farmers swear they can be left out longer. This may seem 'wrong' to people living here in the USA. We are one of the few countries that insists our eggs be washed before sale.

Fresh chickens eggs can be stored on the counter if they are unwashed.

The chemicals used to wash commercially produced eggs are intended to sanitize the egg because the conditions they are produced in are usually less than ideal. Washing removes the bloom. When the bloom is removed, the egg must be refrigerated or used immediately. So commercial eggs must be refrigerated but eggs from your own chickens do not need to be refrigerated unless they've been washed.

Although fresh eggs do not need to be refrigerated, eggs will stay fresh longer in the refrigerator than on the counter. This is important to consider in the summer when egg production is high. If we can't keep up with eating the eggs within a 2 week period, I start to store some in the refrigerator.

It's also important to note that any egg once refrigerated must remain refrigerated until use. When you take an egg out of the refrigerator and allow it to sit at room temperature the egg 'sweats'. It's pretty much exactly how a glass of ice water sweats, but in this instance it can allow bacteria to enter the egg. Remember, the egg is porous and this water sitting on the surface can help remove the bloom allowing contamination.

How to wash fresh chicken eggs

Even though my eggs go straight from the nest box to the counter, I still like to give them a quick wash right before using them.

Washing fresh eggs is easy, in fact all you need is water. Really warm water. The water should be 20° warmer than the egg. I know nobody is going to test the temperature of the water, I certainly don't! I just make sure the water is obviously warmer than the eggs.

I like to use running water, but some people prefer to fill a bowl. Simply hold the egg under the water and rub with your fingers to remove any debris. Do not allow the eggs to soak in the water. Just a quick rinse and rub is all they need. Pat eggs dry with a clean towel.

washing a chicken egg removes the bloom.

If you have chosen to wash your eggs before refrigerating them, make sure the eggs are completely dry before storing. Place in an egg carton pointed end down and refrigerate. I like to write the day I washed/refrigerated the eggs on the carton so I use them up in the correct order.

I never wash the really dirty eggs. I prefer to cook those up for the chickens instead. I find dirty eggs on the floor of the coop sometimes (especially duck eggs as they seem to get mud everywhere!) and these are just best used for chicken feed. Let's face it, most of that dirt on the eggs is poop and I'm just squeamish enough to skip eating those eggs. If it's just a chunk of poop, I'll pick that off and wash them for our use. If it's a smeared mess, the chickens get them!

Do not wash or store eggs that are cracked. Cracks in the eggshell allow bacteria to get in. These are also best cooked up for the chickens or thrown away. It kind of stinks to have to waste an egg due to getting some poop on the shell, but at least the chickens love it!

Want to know more about farm fresh chicken eggs? Click here for my other posts on everything you ever wanted to know about eggs!


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  1. I'm interested in "cooking them to give to the chickens" How do you do that, exactly? I know giving chickens ground up eggshell is good for them and gives calcium. Do you just 'scramble' them and put with their feed? Give them mixed in with food, or sprinkle on the ground, feed separately? And when you do feed cooked eggs to them do you add the ground up shell also?
    Thank you for this article. I'm learning all I can before I get chickens. Hopefully by next summer I'll have everything ready.
    Carol L

    1. Hi Carol,

      Where it says 'Cook those up for the chickens' and the letters are orange orange, if you click that it will take you to a post that shows a bowl of eggs I made for the chickens with some extra garden veggies mixed in. Basically, I just scramble the eggs and give them to the chickens on a plate or in a big dog bowl. I do not add the shells to the eggs. I dry those and crumble them up then put them in a small feed bowl next to their regular feeder. The hens just take what they need.

      Hope that helps!

  2. I wash the egg shells and bake in toaster oven at 200 for ten minutes then crush and feed to chickens.

    1. I do this too! It's a great way to add calcium to their it saves money since we don't have to buy oyster shell.


  3. Re: feed them to the chickens. I’ve always heard that it’s dangerous to feed eggs to the chickens because it could cause them to start pecking the eggs in the nest box and eat them.

    1. I've never had a problem with egg eating and I feed my chickens cooked eggs often. I think the problem would arise if you broke open an egg and let them eat it raw, then they might start egg eating. I don't think they can associate cooked eggs with raw eggs though.