5 Easy Steps to Clean Fresh Chicken Eggs

If you’re like most people, you love the taste of farm fresh eggs from your backyard chickens. As you know the eggs can sometimes be a little dirty. This is your guide on how to clean them, if you feel you must. I’ll explain why you may not want to clean them a little later in this guide.

Supplies You’ll Need-

-a bowl or pot of warm water at 90-120 degrees Fahrenheit.

-sponge or wash cloth

-dry towel or paper towels

-a clean container large enough for all your clean eggs

-a sanding sponge (optional)

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A Rhode Island Red hen from our homestead.

5 Easy Steps To Cleaning Your Eggs-

1). Place the bowl or pot of warm water on a stable surface and wet the sponge or wash cloth in the warm water. Wring it out lightly.

2). Wipe the surface of the egg with the sponge or wash cloth to remove any sizable foreign material (like chicken droppings for instance).

3). Rinse the sponge or wash cloth in the warm water and wring it out again.

4). Wipe the egg surface a second time with the sponge or wash cloth to clean any remaining dirty areas.

5). Dry it with a towel or paper towel and place the clean egg in a clean container.

Note: For heavily soiled eggs, you may need to use an abrasive sponge of some kind to rub off the stubborn chunks from the unwashed eggs and then proceed with washing the eggs using the 5 steps above. A sanding sponge is like a really thick kitchen sponge, but it has rough surfaces on one side that help remove tough dirt and debris.

Another way to clean farm fresh eggs is to dunk them in warm water and then scrub them with a brush and rinse in warm clean water. Some people use vinegar to disinfect the eggs, which is fine and won’t hurt anything.

Vinegar is generally good for you anyway. Salmonella bacteria is the primary offender we’re trying to remove from the eggs when they get very poopy. [Refer to the bottom of this guide for more on vinegar.]

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Barred Rock, Rhode Island Red, and Ameraucana from our homestead.

Why You May Not Want to Clean Your Fresh Eggs-

When you get a dozen eggs from the grocery store, they’re all clean and ready to eat. But what if you got your eggs fresh from your own chickens? Do you have to clean them?

There is this thing that happens when a hen lays an egg called the bloom. This is a natural coating that covers the egg on it’s way out of the hen that basically seals the micro pores of the shell and protects it. This prevents salmonella bacteria as well as other contaminants from entering the egg.

Washing the bloom off of the egg removes this natural protection.

My preferred way of doing things is to place all my eggs directly from the egg box into the refrigerator in a seperate container away from all other clean eggs or food. Then, before it’s time to eat them, I may go through the 5 steps mentioned above to clean them if they are very yucky looking.

This is good for longer term storage when I know I won’t need them for a while. The bloom will protect them before and while they’re in the fridge.

Side Note: If I know I’ll be scrambling my eggs and the eggs look clean to me, I may just rinse them in warm water before cooking and eating them or not even rinse them at all.

The heat from cooking them fully will insure they’re safe to eat. That’s just my opinion. Your results may vary. It’s never posed a problem for me.

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Coating With Olive Oil-

What I like to do, if I choose to wash the eggs, is to apply a thin coating of olive oil to the washed and dried egg which replaces the bloom that was removed during the cleaning process. Some people use mineral oil instead.

This should extend the shelf life of the eggs when compared to eggs that were not coated. You simply pour a little olive oil into the cap of the oil bottle and dip your finger tips into the oil and then completely coat the egg shell.

Then wipe off any excess oil with a paper towel before putting them in the refrigerator. They’ll be slippery so try not to drop them! You may want to do this over a thick towel or wash cloth in case one slips out of your hands.

Nest Boxes and Dirty Eggs-

The average backyard chicken owner may not think about the importance of a clean nest box. Once the eggs have been laid, the dirty eggs can contaminate the clean eggs and is a potential source of disease. In addition to that, there are many bacteria and fungi that can infect or cause illness in the egg after it has been laid.

One way to prevent these problems is to make sure your chickens have a nice, clean place to lay their eggs. This means keeping the nest boxes clean and free of debris . Having fresh straw in the nest boxes is important for the goal of clean eggs.

You should put clean straw into the egg boxes on a regular basis. It’s also important that you check the nest boxes regularly and remove any eggs that have been laid at least once per day. Twice or more daily is better, if possible.

Having a Good Roosting Area-

A roosting bar or bars is a great way to keep clean nesting boxes tidy. This is because if your backyard flock are roosting on their perches at night and not in their egg boxes, their night time chicken poop will be below their perch and not in the nest box.

I know first hand that if they don’t have a roosting bar to stay on at night they are very happy to bed down in their egg box. That leads to dirtier eggs. A good rule of thumb for installing a perch in your chicken coop is to try to place it higher than their egg box.

Chickens like to sleep up high so if the perch is higher than the egg box, they’re more likely to roost on the perch.

Train Your Chickens to Use the Nest Box-

A chicken coop is a great place to put your hens if you want them to lay eggs in one area, but they will also lay eggs outside the coop. If you have a backyard chicken flock and your hens are laying eggs outside of the coop, there are a few things you can do to make collecting those eggs easier.

You can train them to lay their eggs in the nest box. Do this by placing a ping pong ball, golf ball, plastic egg, or even a painted egg shaped rock in their egg box. My wife did that and it worked well. She painted two oval and smooth river rocks with white paint and sure enough the chickens started moving them to there favorite brooding spot and sat on them!

This will show them where other eggs are being laid and they will take the hint and start laying their eggs in the nest box instead of out in the yard somewhere. That’s so much nicer than having to do an egg hunt everyday. This will also prevent the loss of your fresh eggs when they are hidden where you can’t find them.

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Do Not Eat Cracked Eggs-

The shell of the egg protects it from external contaminants such as bacteria, dirt and others. A visibly cracked shell is a red flag to toss it away. Or better yet, toss it into your compost bin.

Your composter is hopefully well away from your home. Since ants and other nasty’s will love to partake of the feast, you don’t want any of that to be close by.

Your dog may enjoy a cracked egg too! Dog’s can eat things that would kill most people, fyi. As long as the contents of the egg look and smell normal after you crack it open, it will be a great snack for the dog. Don’t let your chickens get a taste though. That could start a bad habit with your chickens and they might start pecking at them to get at the contents.

Storage of Fresh Eggs-

It’s important to store eggs properly. Eggs should be kept in a cool, dry place where they won’t get too warm. Most people store their eggs in a refrigerator, but they can also be stored in a cool pantry or cupboard if they still have the bloom or olive oil on them. If you’re going to store them for more than a week, it’s best just to put them in the fridge.

Unwashed eggs can be stored at room temperature, or in the refrigerator but not in the freezer.

If you are not going to use the eggs right away, you can store them in the refrigerator for two or three weeks or even more. Unwashed eggs that have been refrigerated can be safely washed before being eaten if you choose. That’s how I prefer to do it, if they even need washing at all.

The Floating Egg Test-

If you feel you need to test if your eggs are still good, you can put your eggs into a pot or bowl of warm water.

Again, the water should be at least 20 degrees fahrenheit warmer than your eggs.

When they sink to the bottom of the bowl and lay down they’re good. If they sink to the bottom but stand up, they’re ok but should be used very soon. If they float they’ve gone bad most likely.

Floating Egg Test

Vinegar: The Final Solution-

Ok, if after all the research you’ve done you still would like to play it safe, I understand. Sometimes it’s better safe than sorry when you’re unsure. Your backyard chickens are dropping loads of eggs and you need a natural way to really sanitize your eggs. Here’s a way you can do it.

Try using vinegar in your wash water.

1.) You will mix 50% distilled white vinegar and 50% water and heat it to 90-120 degrees or 20 degrees warmer than the eggs.

2.) You will then dip your eggs in the warm water for a few seconds, with rubber gloves on if needed as it may be too warm for some.

3.) Dry the eggs with a paper towel or let them air dry. That’s it!

The vinegar and water solution will help kill bacteria and remove any dirt or debris from the egg shell. However, this will likely remove the natural barrier or bloom. So after using the vinegar solution you’ll want to refrigerate them unless you plan on using them soon.

The Take Away-

There are several different ways to go about cleaning the eggs from your backyard chickens. Much of it just comes down to personal preference. So just choose whatever method you feel is best for you and get crackin’ ! It doesn’t get much better than the taste of home grown eggs from your own homestead!

You May Also Like:

5 Best Backyard Ducks for Eggs, Meat or Pet

Quail Eggs Vs. Chicken Eggs: What You Must Know!

Ameraucana Chicken Breeds: The Definitive Guide

References-

https://extension.usu.edu/poultry/files/Egg_Care_from_Colorado_State_Extension.pdf

https://www.cfsph.iastate.edu/Assets/tipsheet-cd-eggs.pdf

https://food.unl.edu/documents/EggCleaning.pdf

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