How and When to Wash Fresh Eggs

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When you keep your own poultry, whether chickens, ducks, or geese, it’s inevitable that you’ll come across dirty eggs sometimes. Knowing how and when to wash fresh eggs as well as proper storage is an important part of keeping your homegrown food safe and healthy.

Bowl of clean duck eggs

No matter how hard we try to keep the barn clean, dirty eggs happen. Most of the time, the eggs laid by our chickens, ducks, and goose are nice and clean and can go straight into the egg basket on the counter.

But every so often, and especially during the spring thaw, we find gross, dirty eggs that need to be cleaned.

Springtime in Alaska means several feet of snow melting in a fairly short period of time. It’s a mucky mess for a few weeks until all of the snow has melted and the sunshine has dried everything up.

During this time of year, almost every egg we collect is muddy! The ducks are always outside now and lay their eggs in several different places, and they like to roll the eggs around in the mud. The chickens often do the same instead of using their nice, clean nesting boxes.

I only wash eggs if I have to and during the spring, I definitely do! Here’s some information about how and when to wash fresh eggs.

Dirty eggs in a pail

When to Wash Fresh Eggs

Most of the time, chickens and ducks will lay their eggs in the nesting boxes that you provide for them. Keeping the nesting boxes clean with fresh bedding is the best way to ensure clean eggs.

However, some chickens and ducks like to lay their eggs elsewhere, sending you on a hunt to find them. They might not choose the nicest spot so you’ll end up with dirty eggs occasionally.

If you often find dirty eggs in the nesting boxes, be sure to check your chickens over as this could also be a sign of a health problem.

Fresh eggs are laid with a natural coating, called the bloom, that protects them. If eggs are clean, there is no need to wash them as washing removes the bloom. They can go straight to the egg basket, no need to refrigerate.

If there is only a spot or two of dried on dirt, it can often just be brushed off. The bloom will still be intact and the egg can be stored with the others.

When we find dirty eggs, we keep them in a small pail on the front porch because I don’t even want them in the kitchen until they’re washed. When I’m ready, I’ll bring the dirty eggs in and clean them up.

How to Wash Fresh Eggs

Washing fresh eggs is a simple process. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Colander
  • Clean rag
  • Small towel

I start by placing the eggs into a colander. You don’t want to use a bowl because you don’t want the eggs sitting in dirty water.

Always use warm water when washing eggs, not cold. Run some water over them to start softening the dirt and then start washing them one by one. Don’t use soap or cleaner of any kind, just plain water is all they need.

Dirty eggs in a colander in a sink to be washed

Gently rub the egg with a rag to remove all of the dirt. Be careful not to rub too hard or you’ll break the egg, something I have done a few times!

Continue rinsing the egg under running water until it’s completely clean.

Hands using a rag to wash an egg

Spread a small towel out on the counter and place the eggs on it to begin drying while you wash the rest of the eggs.

That’s it! Wash your hands with soap to get them clean as well and then dry the eggs off carefully so they’re ready for storage.

Clean eggs on a towel

How to Store Fresh Eggs

Clean eggs that have the bloom intact can be stored at room temperature for several weeks. They will last even longer in the fridge but most of us enjoy the beautiful basket of eggs on the counter!

Once eggs have been washed, however, they must be refrigerated! They no longer have the protective coating on them. Place them in an egg carton or gently set in a large bowl or dish. They will still last for several weeks in the fridge.

Clean eggs on a towel

More Tips

  • Store bought eggs don’t need to be washed as they already have been. That is why they must be refrigerated.
  • Even clean eggs should be rinsed under warm water immediately before using them to get off any dust.
  • If you share your bounty of eggs with a friend, be sure to let them know whether or not the eggs are washed and if they need to be refrigerated.
  • I keep a few egg cartons that I picked up at the local feed store in a cupboard for when I have a lot of eggs rot wash and store. They’re nice to have on hand if you plan to share eggs as well.
  • I have a few dish cloths that I knitted that I keep just for washing eggs. That way, I know they don’t have any soap residue on them. I rinse them well after washing the eggs and toss them in the laundry.
  • Once you crack your clean eggs, save the egg shells to feed back to you chickens in their scrap bucket!
A basket of fresh eggs on a kitchen counter with a few laying on the counter.


  • Only wash fresh eggs if necessary.
  • If they’re dirty, keep them out of the kitchen until ready to clean.
  • Place them in a colander under warm, running water.
  • Gently rub each egg with a clean cloth to remove dirt.
  • Dry the eggs carefully and refrigerate immediately.

Having fresh eggs laid daily is a treat that never gets old! Knowing how to care for the eggs so they’ll be their best when your family cooks them up is important to understand when keeping poultry. Enjoy those nice, clean fresh eggs!

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