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How to Wash and Store Fresh Eggs

Raising your own chickens for eggs is excellent! But you may wonder how to store fresh eggs since buying them at the grocery store is entirely different. Luckily, washing and storing fresh eggs is much easier than you probably think, so keep reading to learn how!

Fresh eggs in a basket

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No matter how many eggs you get it’s important that you wash and store them properly so that you get the most extended shelf life, but even more importantly, don’t get sick.

In most grocery stores you will see perfectly clean, refrigerated eggs. So when you collect, clean, and store your own fresh eggs, the process may seem a little strange because it’s not what you are familiar with.

You shouldn’t wash fresh eggs and you don’t have to store them in the refrigerator. But it’s important to know why, so keep reading to learn all the specifics.

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Why Fresh Eggs Are Different

When a chicken lays an egg it has a protective coating on the outside of the shell called the “bloom” or the “cuticle” which is a protective layer of protein that prevents bacteria from entering inside of the egg.

But once you wash the egg that coating goes away!

In most commercial egg facilities, at least here in the United States, egg washing and pasteurization processes are required. During that process, the protective bloom gets washed off and so that is why commercial eggs have to be stored in the refrigerator.

Luckily as chicken keepers, we can keep that protective coating on our eggs which will keep the eggs safe and drastically increase their shelf-life.

Different colored fresh eggs on the counter

How to Wash Fresh Eggs

It is best to leave fresh eggs unwashed so that you keep the protective bloom on the outside of the shell. When you wash eggs you wash off the protective coating and bacteria can enter through the shell.

So if the eggs are dirty when you collect them you should hold off washing until right before you use them. Or you can use a dry rag, scrub brush, or gentle piece of sandpaper to scrape off any dirt and poop. Just try to avoid washing them with water.

If you do wet-wash them, use water that is warmer than the egg. Ideally, warm water.

When you place eggs in cold water or water cooler than their internal temperature it can cause the pores on the eggshell to open up which can draw bacteria from the outside of the shell into the inside of the egg. 

So use warm water and don’t ever fully submerge or soak the eggs. Either wash them off with running water or put them in a wire basket and spray them off.

Then let them dry or wipe them down with a clean towel.

The Correct Way to Clean & Store Fresh Eggs

How to Store Fresh Eggs

If you wash your eggs you need to refrigerate them immediately. But if you leave them unwashed and they still have the protective coating on the outer shell you can store them on the counter for a few weeks.

This is great because it can save lots of space in your fridge. But after a couple of weeks, you should move any unused eggs into the fridge.

You may even consider moving your eggs into the refrigerator sooner depending on the temperature. Unwashed eggs are safe to store at room temperature but the warmer it is the quicker they will lose their freshness.

So if it is hot and humid in your home you may only want to leave them out for a few days or store them in the fridge immediately. However, if it’s nice and cool they can stay on the counter at room temperature for a few weeks.

No matter what, storing unwashed eggs with their protective bloom in the fridge will keep them fresh longest.

You should also store your eggs in containers with the pointy end facing down. There is an air sac in the more rounded end of the egg and when that is facing upwards it creates insulation that helps reduce moisture loss.

Fresh eggs stored correctly in a container

How to Keep Fresh Eggs Clean

The best thing to do with fresh eggs is to keep them clean from the start. But I completely understand how this is not always possible. There are a few things you can do that will help though.

  1. Keep fresh nesting material in the nesting boxes at all times. Of all the things I’ve tried, these nesting pads work best. Then I top them with a few handfuls of shavings every few days which keeps them in better shape for much longer.
  2. Clean your chicken coop often. It’s not the most fun task but the more frequent you clean your coop the easier it will be. Plus if your coop and chicken yard are clean your eggs will stay cleaner.
  3. Collect your eggs 1-2 times a day. If you collect your eggs often they tend to stay pretty clean. If you wait a full day or until the following day to collect eggs that’s when they start getting dirty.
Fresh eggs in a chicken nesting box

Do farm fresh eggs need to be refrigerated?

As long as the eggs still have their protective coating, known as the “bloom” or “cuticle” you can store fresh eggs at room temperature.

However, for long-term storage, eggs will store best in the fridge.

If the eggs start off in the fridge they need to remain in the fridge. You can’t move refrigerated eggs to room temperature for storage unless you plan on cooking with them within 2 hours.

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How long can fresh eggs stay unrefrigerated?

As long as the temperature is somewhat constant and it’s not extremely hot and humid, you can store unwashed fresh eggs for 2-3 weeks unrefrigerated. After that, it is best to move them into the fridge.

I like to keep mine out for about a week and then I move them into the fridge to maintain the best quality and freshness.

How do you store farm-fresh eggs on the counter?

You can store fresh eggs however you’d like but it is best if you can store them in a container with the pointy end facing down. There is an air sac in the rounded end of the egg and when that is facing upwards it creates insulation that helps reduce moisture loss.

So I hope after going through this post you feel confident about how to safely store your fresh eggs!

Or if you don’t have chickens yet but would like to start keeping chickens for eggs, be sure to check out the best laying hens in this post here.

Want to dive deeper?

Check out my ebook, The Beginner’s Guide to Raising Chickens where I share all of the tips & information you need to raise a healthy flock of chickens!

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Fresh eggs on the counter and in a basket

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