Clean Eggs

July 27, 2011
Clean unwashed eggs from the girls

I never wash my eggs.  When chickens create the egg, the shell is “wrapped” in an antimicrobial coating.  This coating, serves a few purposes.  First, it keeps bacteria, viruses and the like from entering the egg.  It also helps maintain the egg’s moisture content, extending the egg’s shelf life.  Some say this protective coating also allows individuals to keep eggs unrefrigerated for a few weeks.  However, I would never endorse this.  It is important given technology, to refrigerate eggs immediately upon harvesting to ensure the safety of your family.

Eggs available for purchase in the grocery store have been washed.  As the protective coating is washed away, so is the shelf life.  When the coating is removed, the egg’s shell becomes permeable, allowing air and microbes to enter through microscopic pores on the surface of the egg.

This comes around to a question that I get asked frequently, “How do you keep your unwashed eggs so clean?”  I like to keep the protective coating on my eggs, for the reasons listed above. So I am diligent with hygiene in the coop and nesting boxes.  Everyday, I clean the nesting boxes of feathers and poop.   This only takes a few minutes. On a weekly basis, the entire coop is cleaned out.  I have this luxury, because my coop is small.  I also keep my chickens clean.  For some reason, only Oyster Cracker’s backside needs tending to now and then.

Do I ever wash my eggs?  Well, yes, sometimes a little blob of poop gets stuck to the shell.  Those I wash and consume first, even before previously harvested eggs.  I don’t mind a tiny little smear of dirt, as you can see on the third egg from the left in the front row.  Once I am ready to use the eggs, I typically wash the ones with visible soiling.  I do not wash the “clean” ones.

To me it comes down to the simple fact.  I would rather nurture nature than interfere with it.  However, that being said, I have been known to wash a chicken now and then.

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest


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4 thoughts on “Clean Eggs”

  1. Well said. I went to a cooking class in italy and the teacher asked a question about what keeps the bad stuff out of eggs. Of course, I answered "the bloom". He looked at me like I had ten heads and berated me that I didn't know what I was talking about. He was referring to the rigorous cleaning and scrubbing commercial eggs get. I tried to explain what the bloom was and he wouldn't hear it. Kept telling me eggs straight from the chicken are covered in poop. oh well he made a chocolate lava cake to die for. 🙂

  2. My eggs often have fecal matter on them and occasionally bedding stuck to them, it cannot be sanitary to put soiled eggs in my fridge unwashed, right? I tend to be a bit anal about germs.

    • If you keep your nesting boxes clean and free of poop, your eggs should be be clean when you harvest them. Also, prevent your hens from sleeping in the boxes too. I think this is the best place to start if you are anal about germs. Hygiene in the coop is very important when keeping chickens to not only have clean eggs, but prevent illness and diseases within your flock.


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Sharing an inspired life from the New England seaside. Chickens, Bees, Gardens, Art and Yummy Goodness.