Washed VS Unwashed Eggs

Different cultures treat egg washing in different ways – many cultures (such as all the EU countries) prohibit washing fresh eggs that are to be sold whereas most places in the US require them to be washed. Despite what regulations in much of the US say, the answer is, it’s generally better to leave the egg unwashed. The great thing about having your own chickens providing eggs is that you can decide, and do what works best for your situation.

Washed Eggs

Consuming unwashed eggs or even selling them – here is a little trivia.

The USDA requires producers to wash eggs with warm water at least 20°F warmer than the internal temperature of the eggs and at a minimum of 90°F. A detergent that won’t impart any foreign odors to the eggs must also be used. After washing, the eggs must be rinsed with a warm water spray containing a chemical sanitizer to remove any remaining bacteria. They are then dried to remove excess moisture.

United States consumers are also accustomed to washed eggs (the ones in the supermarket are generally required to be washed), so that’s also a consideration in deciding whether to wash, just rinse them under very warm tap water. It’s not necessary to use any soaps or detergents.

Washed eggs should be refrigerated, and will last at least two months, but won’t taste as fresh as an unwashed egg of the same age.

Unwashed Eggs

Just before laying an egg, the hen adds a protective layer called “bloom” or cuticle to the outside of the egg. This coating seals the shell pores, prevents bacteria from getting inside the shell, and reduces moisture loss from the egg – all designed to make the egg last longer. Washing the eggs removes this protective layer, and does reduce the time that the egg will remain fresh.

Eggs that are removed from the nest box that are clean, are best left unwashed until just before use. However, eggs that have dirt, feathers, or chicken droppings attached when removed from the nest box should be washed in warm water (eggs should not be washed in cool water as this pushes bacteria into the shell pores) and used first.

Unwashed eggs will last at least two weeks unrefrigerated, and three months if refrigerated.