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Should eggs be washed? I've read conflicting articles on whether backyard eggs should be washed or not. Is washing eggs under running water before eating or selling a good practice? If so, should a mild soap be used? If not, should even slightly soiled eggs be thrown out? In the spring, sometimes the feet of our hens will be muddy & the mud transferred to the egg shell. Should thses be thrown out? I've read where some use sandpaper to clean the egg. Won't this practice just move the bacteria further into the shell? If bacteria is on & in the egg, what can be done to protect against salmonella infection in people? Thanks for your time.


In my opinion, eggs should not be washed prior to eating or selling. This is if you have a small flock (and I presume you have) and are selling eggs or eating yourself. The exception would be if the eggs are extremely soiled. If you choose to wash eggs that are soiled you MUST make sure that the wash water temperature is at least 15° to 20° F WARMER than the eggs themself. This will assure that any bacteria would not penetrate the shell. Use a mild soapy water. If the eggs are extremely soiled, they should be thrown out. You can use sandpaper to get the adhering dirt off the shell. We do this at our research farm. Also, in the spring, hopefully your hens will lay in a nest box if you have one. Finally, to be sure that salmonella would not be a problem, keep eggs cool 55-60°F, and cook thoroughly when preparing for a meal.

Ken Koelkebeck Extension Specialist, Poultry

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