About Egg Washing and Storage

on January 8, 2015
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egg washing and storage

Egg washing and storage are the two most controversial egg related topics among avid chicken keepers. One side says you should wash every egg before you store it while the other side says only wash a really dirty egg and only wash them just before use.

One side says you should refrigerate your eggs asap. The other side says no refrigeration is needed. After our last article on determining if an egg is fresh, I had many questions about the washing and storing of eggs. This inspired me to take a good look at these two topics with you.

Should I wash my eggs?

The truth is you should not wash any egg that is to be stored unless you plan on using it within a week.  If you feel you must wash an egg and you will not be able to use it within a week, be sure the water is 20° warmer than the egg and no warmer than 120°.  

Some people use a cleaning mixture of 4 Tablespoons bleach with 2 tablespoons of detergent in 1 gallon of water.  Then they wipe off any loose dirt or poop with a clean, dry cloth. Next, they wash it in this solution and rinse with clear warm water. Never dry the egg with a cloth, allow it to air dry.

Commercial egg plants wash their eggs in chlorine bleach and soap. YUCK! I would NEVER use this at my home.

I don’t wash any egg that I’m going to store. If one of my girls’ egg has dirt or poop on it, I wipe it off with a clean dry cloth and put it where I can use it next and wash it just before I use it.

Why I don’t wash my eggs

The reason I don’t wash eggs is simple. Eggshells are covered with a thin, protective membrane which is destroyed with washing. By not washing, the membrane is left intact and the egg keeps longer.

It’s pretty safe to assume every egg has bacteria on it and egg washers cite this as the reason they wash their eggs. But the truth is, washing an egg and removing the protective membrane makes it more likely that bacteria can get inside the shell.

Bacteria love moisture, so adding it along with removing the membrane creates the perfect environment for bacteria to breed, increasing the risk of egg penetration. Whether or not to wash an egg is a personal decision. However, I strongly feel not washing the egg is the best way.

Egg washing and storage

Should I refrigerate my eggs?

This may seem like a silly question to us in an age of modern refrigeration, but in many countries eggs are not refrigerated. As a matter of fact, old-timers didn’t refrigerate their eggs. My great-grandmother and grandmother used egg baskets to keep their eggs.

Here in the U.S., cold storage is considered the best way to keep eggs by most people. However, in other countries like France, Britain, actually most of Europe, eggs are not refrigerated. Our commercial method is to keep eggs stored between 35 and 40°F. They say that when kept at this temperature, with an adequate humidity level (above 60%), eggs will keep for 100 days.  Be careful storing your eggs next to something smelly like an onion because they have lots tiny pores and will absorb odors.

There have been scientific studies done in an attempt to squash the idea of refrigeration. They have proven there is no difference in the bacteria levels of cold storage eggs versus room temperature eggs. You have to decide what you feel comfortable with. 

The old-timers used to store their eggs in crocks, barrels, or baskets. If they had a large supply, they would fill the container with sawdust or straw and store it in a cool place like their root cellar or basement. They stored them small end down to keep the air pocket in its natural place. 

I store my yard eggs in my egg basket at room temperature. They must not be placed in direct sunlight or next to a heat source. I keep some in the kitchen in a basket and the rest in the room where I keep my preserved garden produce. It isn’t heated so it remains a pretty even, cool temperature and the humidity is good.

Eggs in a bowl

How long are eggs good?

As a general rule, eggs are good for 6 weeks. Those who support the refrigeration of eggs say that you can keep eggs in the fridge for up to 100 days at the right temperature and humidity level (like we talked about above). Washed eggs have been proven to spoil within a month or less.

I’m just an experienced farmer with generations of chicken keeping to rely on to decide about egg washing and storage. Where do you stand on this issue? Are you a washer or a non-washer? Do you refrigerate or not?

Be sure to share your experiences, ideas, and tips in the comments below and remember you can always use the Contact Me page.

Safe and Happy Journey,

Rhonda and The Pack

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Eggs in a bowl
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11 Comments

  • Kate

    I appreciate this article, we just started working with chickens and I have received so much information. This helps a great deal in taking care of our eggs!

    January 14, 2015 at 10:17 am Reply
    • Rhonda

      Kate, Thank you for taking the time to comment. If you have any questions, or need anything at all, I will do all I can to help you.

      January 14, 2015 at 11:20 am Reply
  • John West

    Thanks for the interesting article. I was wondering if my eggs are free of any soiling, Do you recommend that they are washed before using them?

    January 15, 2015 at 10:34 am Reply
    • Rhonda

      John, Thanks for taking the time to comment. As I said in the article, I don’t wash any of my eggs. There is no reason to wash an unsoiled egg. Only
      soiled eggs get washed at my house and then only just before I use them. I hope this answers your question. If not, please let me know by comment
      or use the contact me page on the site.

      January 15, 2015 at 1:22 pm Reply
  • Amanda

    Hi Rhonda, thanks for the interesting article. Here in the UK we don’t tend to refrigerate our eggs as it’s cool enough. I may give a soiled egg a wipe with a cloth before use but I certainly wouldn’t wash them and even if I did it would be with Milton fluid and not bleach.!!
    I do quite a bit of baking and cold eggs don’t give you the best results.Iresults.I also think that people have become a bit over zealous with antibacterial cleansing to the detriment of our own wellbeing. exposure to a bit of grubbiness would stop people from getting allergies and the like. Sensible hygiene is the key.
    nice to meet you and news of your animals. Best regards, Amanda

    February 20, 2015 at 8:54 am Reply
    • Rhonda

      Amanda, Your kind words are much appreciated. I agree with you totally about the cold eggs giving different results. The over zealousness with chemical cleaners is definitely a problem, especially here in the media driven U.S. You’re right about the exposure to “grubbiness”, science has proven that. There isn’t much (nothing that I know of – as retired nurse of 21 years) that warm soap and water, vinegar and baking soda, or hydrogen peroxide can’t destroy. I really appreciate your stopping by to comment. It is nice to meet you and I look forward to growing to know you more!

      February 20, 2015 at 10:04 am Reply
  • 5 Reasons I'm a Chicken Keeper ~

    […] My Black Australorps and Speckled Sussex are champion layers. I don’t bother to keep laying records unless I have a slacker and I’m trying to determine who the slacker is. A couple of years ago I had to cull some older girls and so to decide who needed to go, we went through the long process of recording the laying patterns of the hens. Out of the 120 days of recording them, these two breeds lay an average of 115 eggs, each! The Rhode Island Reds aren’t too far behind them. Learn about egg storing and washing. […]

    June 24, 2015 at 2:27 pm Reply
  • Terri

    I don’t wash my eggs unless they have poop on them . Then as you said I wash & use first. However I dont like to put unwashed eggs in my refrigerator with other foods. So I store all my eggs in another fridge just for them. I know people who store there unwashed eggs on the counter but I just feel better if they are refrigerated. My question is how long can they be left in the nest. I live in South Ga.where the temp can get to 100 or more in the summer. I have left home for a couple of days with no one to collect eggs then throwing them away for fear of spoilage.

    September 9, 2015 at 3:57 pm Reply
    • Rhonda

      With the humidity and heat we have here in the deep south, I too would not keep them for human consumption if left longer than a day. You can cook them and give them to your dogs or even to your chickens. You could also feed them to hogs…if you have them 🙂 Thanks so much, Terri, for letting me hear from you. If I can help you further, please feel free to give me a shout!

      September 10, 2015 at 3:15 pm Reply
  • Ed Pleskovitch

    I am wondering if by washing that you mean soap and water and the like? I run water and spin the eggs with my fingers. I only use ordinary water and nothing else. Does that qualify as the washing you are talking about?

    May 17, 2017 at 8:17 pm Reply
    • Rhonda Crank

      Yes, by washing I mean water or any other liquid. Any washing, even with just water, removes the bloom from the egg.

      May 18, 2017 at 8:44 am Reply

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