Egg cleaning is one of the most hotly debated topics among chicken keepers. Some people are against it; some people are for it; some people favor one method over another. With so many opinions out there, it can be difficult to decide what to do. Let’s run through all the options, so you can form your own opinion.
No Cleaning– Eggs have a protective coating, called bloom, that helps to keep bacteria out and the eggs fresh. Cleaning removes the bloom and its protection, so some people opt to leave eggs uncleaned. Due to Salmonella concerns, all eggs sold in the U.S. have to be cleaned. In the UK, the rules are very different – there eggs are sold uncleaned and unrefrigerated. See I told you this was a complicated issue? Many backyard chicken keepers choose to leave their eggs uncleaned because the Salmonella risk is much smaller in a well cared for flock – it tends to be a problem associated with large, commercial operations.
Dry Cleaning– Another option is to clean just the eggs that have visible dirt or poop on them by rubbing them with something abrasive, like a sanding sponge or a piece of sandpaper. This can be done when the eggs are collected, or just before you use them (if you’re trying to preserve the bloom for as long as possible). To keep things clean, it’s important to sanitize or replace your sand paper or sponge regularly.
Wet Cleaning – A third option is to wash your eggs. This can be done with water, vinegar, a weak bleach solution or even a store-bought egg wash. To remove bacteria, your cleaning solution needs to be warmer than the eggs that you’re cleaning. Using a cold solution will cause the egg shell to suck in your cleaner AND and any bacteria that’s on the outside of the shell. Not good. Since egg shells are porous, it’s best to wipe them with the cleaner, rather than submerging them in it. Wash your eggs when you bring them in or just before you use them – whichever you’re most comfortable with.
If you plan to sell your eggs, your cleaning method will need to comply with state regulations. Check with your local county extension office to see what rules you need to follow.
So How Do I Clean My Eggs?
I refrigerate my eggs uncleaned; then, wipe them down with vinegar right before I use them.