How to Wash Fresh Eggs (And When You Shouldn’t Wash Them)

Updated: Feb. 22, 2024

If you've recently received a carton of farm fresh eggs, you might be wondering how to wash fresh eggs so they aren't covered in bits of feather, grass or dirt.

Eggs are so versatile and nutritious that they’re found in almost every kitchen. But even though people use eggs so frequently, figuring out the rules on how to store eggs, how long can eggs sit out and when and how to wash fresh eggs can be tricky. Afterall, they don’t go through the same sanitation process as USDA-graded eggs.

If you’re lucky enough to live near a poultry farm or farmers market, you might have a couple cartons of fresh farm eggs stacked on your counter. Before you start adding them to egg casseroles or boiling them for egg salad recipes, here’s everything you should know about when and how to clean them.

Should you wash eggs?

Commercially packaged eggs from the supermarket should not be washed. This is because water can seep into the porous egg shells and contaminate the egg inside. All USDA-graded eggs from the grocery store have been washed using specially approved cleaners. These eggs should be kept in the fridge until you’re ready to cook them, and any cracked eggs you find in the carton should be discarded.

If, however, you get eggs from a local farmer or farmers market, those eggs are not USDA-graded, and therefore do not go through a cleaning process before they’re sold. Because of this, fresh eggs are often covered in contaminants like dirt, feathers, poop and salmonella. If the shell of the egg isn’t washed properly, these contaminants can end up in your food and spread on cooking surfaces and equipment.

The catch is that you shouldn’t wash these contaminants off the fresh eggs until right before you use them or put them in the fridge. Why? Eggs have a natural coating called a “cuticle” or “bloom” that protects the contents from bacteria. When that cuticle is washed off, the semipermeable shell can allow bacteria to pass through and contaminate the contents.

So, if you wash the protective coating off the eggs, immediately cook them or store in the fridge. If you leave your fresh eggs unwashed, they can remain out on the counter for several weeks.

How to Wash Fresh Eggs

An egg’s journey from coop to carton can be dirty, but it’s an easy fix with a proper wash! Here’s how to wash fresh eggs so they’re safe to eat.

Step 1: Rinse the eggs in warm water

Cool water is more likely to transport bacteria through an egg shell, so make sure that your wash water is between 90° and 120°F. Rinse each egg individually under running water. Don’t soak the eggs.

Step 2: Use a dab of unscented soap, if desired

When rinsing, you can use a bit of unscented soap if needed. Once the eggs are rinsed, place them in a dish—not back in the carton, since the carton will still have contaminants like feathers, dirt and feces.

Step 3: Sanitize the eggs

Dip each rinsed egg into a santizing solution. This solution should be 1 tablespoon of bleach mixed with 1 gallon of water. Once sanitized, dry each egg with a paper towel.

Step 4: Store or use the eggs

Promptly store fresh eggs in the fridge if you’re not eating them right away. Yes, there is a right way that eggs should sit in a carton! Store the eggs pointy-side down and round-side up to center the yolks. This keeps the eggs fresher longer.

Step 3: Wash your hands and your work space

Even if you’ve cleaned your eggs, it’s still important to wash your hands and sanitize the sink so that all contamination gets removed and doesn’t spread to other kitchen surfaces.

Wondering how organic eggs taste compared to conventional eggs? We’ve done that taste test.

How to Store Eggs

Eggs last a surprisingly long time in the fridge. All eggs should be kept in the refrigerator at 40° or below and used within three weeks when possible, although five weeks is still considered safe.

Now that you know what to do with your eggs when you get them home from the farmers market, check out some of our favorite egg recipes:

1 / 48