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How do you wash eggs?

Posted by jenica 7 (My Page) on
Mon, Dec 8, 08 at 10:53

Hi everyone,

I was wondering about how the rest of you with chickens wash your eggs. I fill one side of the sink with hot water and a small splash of bleach and dip my egg basket with all the eggs into that to wet the eggs. I set it in the other empty side of the sink and take one egg at a time, rub off any dirty spots, then redip in the bleach water and set it on a towel to dry. When I'm done with them all, I date the top of each egg with a pencil and put it in a carton to refrigerate.

How do you all do it? Any faster methods? Right now I'm only averaging about 6 eggs a day so it only take a couple minutes but once all 25 are laying it'll be another story. Anyone use a date stamp or something similar. I reuse cartons so I can't just date the carton.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: How do you wash eggs?

Hi, I actually dont wash any clean eggs that i get. I read that the water can actually push germs through the porous shells, so I avoid washing them unless they are dirty. I keep a lot of fresh straw in my nest boxes to keep the eggs clean and i change it every once in a while. (maybe once a month) I hardly ever get eggs I need to wash as they all seem to be spotless when i collect them.


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RE: How do you wash eggs?

At one point, I was getting 21 dozen eggs a day, so I've tried many methods, and this is what works for me.

1. Don't wash any eggs that aren't dirty. It removes the natural "bloom", which gives some protection against bacteria entering the pores of the shell. Washing eggs decreases their storage time.

2. For those eggs that DO need to be washed.

I have one side of the sink filled with hot water (not too hot or it will cook the eggs), and a little dish detergent.

The other side is the same temp, with the addition of some bleach.

One at a time, I gently wash the egg, and if necessary, scrub it with a little brush that I've previously allowed to soak in the bleach side to sanitize it.

When clean, THEN I dip it into the bleach solution, or place it in a little basket IN the water. When I have 6, then I transfer it to air-dry on freshly laundered towels.

IF I have some very dirty eggs, I allow these to soak a little, once all the cleaner ones have been processed.

Then at the end of each basket of eggs, I drain out the sink, and start over with clean water/detergent.

I do it this way around because then the clean eggs are getting sanitized. If I did it the other way around, I'd be contaminating my sanitizing solution.

3. Storage -----

As I sell commercially now, I do not reuse cartons. However, when I only had a few chickens, I'd buy different colored cartons from the feed store. I've been able to buy white, yellow, green, and blue. Then I'd rotate them around the weeks. That way, it was easy to see which ones were last week's eggs, and use them up first.

Before I was able to get enough different colors, I would put colored stickers on the outside of the cartons, and that worked well.

The other thing that I've found is that if I just gather eggs, and refrigerate them, and then get around to washing them later, it causes more cracked eggs (or seems to). Plus, it takes them ages to dry, because they're still cold from the refrigerator.

Now I make sure they're washed BEFORE they're refrigerated.

Best wishes,

Rachel


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RE: How do you wash eggs?

Riley and Rachel thanks for your input.

I am hesitant not to wash the "clean" eggs. I know about the bloom and I've used it to my advantage when my refrigerator is really full. If I don't have room for the eggs I won't wash them and I'll leave them out on the counter for my own use. I read that if you don't wash them the bloom will protect them so you do not need to refrigerate them (a lot of European countries do not refrigerate eggs). However, I always wash them before I eat them. I am clumsy and have often dropped part of the egg shell onto the eggs after cracking them. Even though some eggs look clean they could still have bacteria on them or even parasites. It would be bad enough if I got sick from my eggs but I'd feel horrible if one of my neighbors did. Now I'm wondering though, does the bloom have some anti-bacterial properties? I always thought it protected the egg by sealing it but if it has antibacterial properties then I could see not cleaning the clean eggs.

Unfortunately for me, I rarely get a "clean" egg. I try to keep the nesting boxes clean but I have one younger hen who isn't laying, that loves sleeping in there. I move her out every night but she finds her way back in. Also, I used to have nice grass surrounding the barn until my girls decided to help me "turn" my compost pile. They kicked hot manure and other compost over all the grass and burnt it to death. I've tried to reseed but they think grass seed taste great! Ahhh, life with chickens ;^) So anyway the result is the area around the barn is a muddy mess. My eggs almost always have muddy little chicken footprints on them.


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RE: How do you wash eggs?

Fence the area off and plant grass, everyone will be better off in the long run.


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RE: How do you wash eggs?

I get dirty eggs, too, that I wash. I have some hens that are still young, laying small eggs on the floor. There's always at least one egg on the floor in the composted chicken poop and shredded paper/leaves. Some new layers poop in the nests too and get the eggs dirty. I never have a perfectly clean basket of eggs.

I put a little very cold water with antibacterial dish soap and a bit of bleach in the sink and put any dirty eggs in it to soak. After a minute of soaking to loosen the dried poop, I wipe them clean and rinse in cold tap water, then lay out on clean dish towels to dry. I don't leave the chemicals on the eggs, but rinse it all off before drying. I use very cold water to help preserve them, thinking that warm water will warm up the egg, hastening the rotting of the egg, so I like to keep them as cool as possible. This time of year that's not a problem for me. I'm just happy they're not frozen when I get them.

Ewesfullchicks: Do you think that the temp difference may make the eggs crack, like glass? Interesting... My eggs are cool or very cold when I get them, I try to keep them cold from nest to fridge, without warming them up. I didn't have this many dirty eggs in the summer and didn't wash them then, just wiped off the odd dirty one. I got more hens of laying age in late Sept, cool weather, and they're the ones laying eggs on the floor and pooping in the nests. Hopefully this will all be cleared up before the warm weather comes and we'll be back to mostly clean eggs again.


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RE: How do you wash eggs?

I have become almost paranoid about washing eggs because of all the reading that I did before I had eggs.
Here are some of the things I read. I can't remember the sources and I have come upon conflicting advice regarding chicken rearing, so I'm not sure if any of this is true.

I have read more than once that you should wash your eggs with water warmer than the eggs. That I'm pretty sure is true, because I've read it several times. I'm pretty sure that one of the places that I read it was Murray McMurray's website.

You shouldn't wash a clean egg.

And it's not true that you can leave your eggs on the counter. Well, you can leave your eggs on the counter, but they deteriorate much more rapidly than refrigerated eggs do--bloom or not. My source for that is Gail Damerow.

The thing that has made me so paranoid was reading that if you use the wrong temperature water, the impurities are pulled into the egg through the newly uncovered pores.

When I first had chickens, I kept their nesting boxes closed up until I got the first egg laid on the floor. I then opened the nesting boxes up, and for at least a year, I got five spotless eggs every single day (not one time less than five) from my five very prolific black sex-links. I didn't know how lucky I was.

Then I added 11 new hens and started getting muddy footprints on eggs occasionally, which I could usually wipe off. I didn't know how lucky I was.

This spring I got 26 chicks which are just starting to lay. Several birds sleep in the nesting boxes and I rarely get a spotless egg. And we're not talking muddy footprints, either. I thought that the answer to the problem (it was the answer in the past) was keeping the nesting box material fresh and full. That's not working this year. My pullets are kicking the straw out of the nesting boxes, and pooping on the wooden slats of the box, with nothing to absorb it. I'd like to move some of the pullets in with my older birds, so that they learn some better hygiene, but it seems like a bad season to introduce them.

If I find an egg on the floor, I heave it. I'm suspicious of the egg laying on the damp bedding.

Someone told me to wipe the egg with fine sandpaper, but I've only heard that from one person.

Right now I wash my eggs under water warmer than the egg, while rubbing the egg clean with my fingers. I then dry them quickly. If the egg has only a few dirty spots, I wipe it with a damp paper towel and only the dirty spots.

I may investigate egg cleaning solutions sold commercially.


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RE: How do you wash eggs?

Hmmm.... the temperature thing is interesting. Right now almost any water is warmer than the eggs. I'm happy they're not frozen when I get them. I'm hoping my new laying hens will soon learn better hygene too. A couple of them sleep in the nesting boxes and poop in them too. I try to keep the boxes cleaned out. Most of the 17-19 eggs I get every day are clean, there are usually about 5-6 that are dirty and have to be washed, including the one or two that I pick up off the floor.

I'm hoping the bleach in the water will kill any bacteria on the surface. Storebought eggs are all washed in a disinfectant. I read somewhere on the internet that the best before date on the Walmart eggs is 60 days after they're laid.


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RE: How do you wash eggs?

Annpat, I'm going through the same thing, from bliss to rude awakening. I did the same thing with my first set of hens, blocking of the nesting boxes. Now I have a new set of 14 hens mixed in with the old ones. The new ones don't want to roost with the old ones, so have taken to sleeping on top of the nesting boxes and pooping all over the platform in front of the nests. My pullets also kick the hay out daily. On a happier note, my nest sleeper was on top of the nesting boxes tonight instead of in one so that is an improvement. I guess she got tired of me kicking her out.

My hen house came with the house so it's not set up how I would do it. I'm about to rip out the inside and redo it. I'm going to rebuild the nesting boxes with slanted roofs so no one can sleep on top of them. They are going to have hinged fronts for easy cleaning and perches in front instead of a platform. Then I'll have two separate roosting areas so everyone can sleep in peace. I'd like to rip up the board flooring and put in painted plywood for easier cleaning but that seems like too much work.

I heard about the warm water thing too. I think I read it on the FDA site and if I remember correctly it's suppose to be at least 10 degrees warmer than the temp of the eggs but obviously not so hot that it cooks them.

I heard that leaving the eggs on the counter decreases their shelf life too but the ones I leave out never sit for more than a few days before we eat them.

I did a bunch of research before my first batch of chickens started laying on how to wash eggs too. When I asked the question I was hoping someone had come up with some ingenious way to clean eggs in under a minute or something ;^) I had visions of contraptions into which you loaded eggs, dipped the contraption into sanitizing solution, turned a crank, and opened it up to clean eggs. Ha. I guess I'm just lazy and am always looking for an easier way!


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RE: How do you wash eggs?

When I was a kid .... we collected the eggs in wire baskets -- they were round, about 15" wide and 12" high. this fit into a bucket, which sat on a round thing kinda like a lazy susan that swished them back and forth. THen you picked up the wire basket, and put another basket full in while that one was draining.

The wire baskets are great, we still have two of them that we use for gathering potatoes and corn, and hosing off at the outdoor faucet.


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RE: How do you wash eggs?

http://www.enasco.com/farmandranch/Poultry+Equipment/Egg+Products/Baskets/
If you google, you will find lots of links to baskets. here's one


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RE: How do you wash eggs?

hmmm... now we're onto something. I have the wire basket already. Any ideas where you can get the swishy thing?


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RE: How do you wash eggs?

For anyone wondering why we would wash off the corn, well, that was supposed to say carrots. I put them inot the basket, and then hose off the carrots, or beets, or parsnips, etc.
Not sure where you would find the swishy thing --


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RE: How do you wash eggs?

wire baskets of all sizes are only $1.00 at the dollar store. So are plastic baskets.


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how you should and should not wash eggs

Our chickens live in a barn. 50 feet by 50 feet. They have many perches from 2 feet off the ground to 10 feet off the ground as well as old sawhorses and wooden pallets (some laying flat and some land so they can be sed as chicken ladders.
All the laying areas are sections of the barn that have a pice of plywood leaned against a wall. Some have old tires behind them (chickens love to make nests in tires) and some just have lots of hay.

Nobody ever perches above the laying areas because it isn't possible.

All eggs get washed. Not more than 20 eggs are placed in a wire basket at a time so they can be washed without cooling rapidly and sucking the bacteria into the shell. First sprayed with high pressure 160 degree water then each egg dipped individually into 160 degree water with bleach.
Any egg with stains or crud is rubbed with a soft cloth and baking soda then dipped again and placed into a wire basket.

When the basket is filled it gets sprayed with high pressure 160 degree water and the egg are placed on a drying rack in a room that is kept around 45 to 50 degrees for rapid drying.

The hot water forces some of the egg interior out through the microscopic pores. If you put COLD water on eggs or put unwashed eggs into the refirgerator the cold SUCKS all the contaminants INTO the warm egg.

Anything you put ON the egg or dip the egg into will be sucked into the egg if that liquid is COLDER than the egg.

Dish detergents are NOT to be used on eggs. Eggs that have been IMMERSED are ILLEGAL to sell (USDA LAWS)
Immersing an egg opens up the pores and allows bad stuff to pass through the shell.


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RE: How do you wash eggs?

Hmmmm this is interesting. I only wash the poopy eggs. I would not wash a perfectly clean egg from a nesting box.

I may switch to rinsing with warm water, though. Nothing that isn't frozen is colder than my eggs by the time I get them at the end of the day.

High pressure spray sound like it would force water into the pours.

Dipping isn't considered immersing? I would like to "dip" my eggs in the bleach solution to kill bacteria. I don't like the idea of just rinsing poopy eggs with plain water.

Is there anything wrong with just wiping the poopy ones off with a warm cloth dipped in bleach solution? Will that push the poop into the pores?

We eat most of our eggs, give some away to family and sell some occasionally. It's not big business for us right now, but I do worry about our health and want them to be healthy, clean eggs.


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RE: How do you wash eggs?

eyecn, that was interesting. I bought a citric-based cleaner yesterday, which involves immersion, but you have me reconsidering.

And I have put dirty eggs in the fridge for later cleaning. I appreciate the heads up.


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RE: How do you wash eggs?

  • Posted by paulns NS zone 6a (My Page) on
    Wed, Dec 17, 08 at 13:08

If you...put unwashed eggs into the refirgerator the cold SUCKS all the contaminants INTO the warm egg.

Hmmmm.....I'm sceptical, eyecndiggit. Any links to back that up?

Our hens have lots of options but insist on pooping where they lay. Since there are only four of them it's not too much of a chore to pick up the droppings in their nesting box every day - I put them in a bucket to make manure tea. This way we have clean eggs, or clean enough. We never wash them.


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RE: How do you wash eggs?

paulns Shouldn't need a link if you had any grade school science. Eggs have pores so they can breathe.
Now for the grade school science. When you heat something up it expands. When you cool something down it contracts.
Since the egg has pores and it starts out warm it is already expanded. when you put it into the refrigerator it contracts so it sucks whatever was on it into the pores.

The link tells about egg washing. Yes it says NON-scented detergent but in the expanded versions the government also covers bleach because bleach is the all purpose germ killer.
It also talks about the egg expanding to push the bacteria OUT of the egg. Expansion and contraction experiment for little scientists( this is a link)
This experiment can be even MORE impressive if you can find an old glass milk bottle. You put a little water into the bottle and put it in the microwave, heating it until it steams. Then immediately take it out of the microwave and place a peeled hard boiled egg on top of the bottle so it seals the hole. Then place the bottle in cold water. The air contracts and sucks the egg into the bottle.
Same thing with eggs. They have air and liquid in them. When they are warmed the inside expands. When the cool it contracts and sucks whater back inside...just like the bottle sucked the egg in.

runningtrails My high pressure water comes from the sprayer on my utility sink. It's not a truck washer or anything. Those would most likely break the egg. Commercial high capacity egg washing machines use much higher pressure water and the eggs aren't even handled by humans. They also use a bleach solution.

See the USDA pamphlet in the link. The use of the hot water is a REQUIREMENT and it explains WHY...so the egg will expand and push the contaminents through the pores so they can be washed away. Rubbing with a warm rag just moves the bacteria from one spot to another.
There was a university study (can't find the link right now) that showed that rinsing your hands in hot water killed or removed more bacteria than using a liquid hand sanitizer. So the rinsing with hot water removes the bacteria from the egg surface.

Here is a link that might be useful: Us Department of Agriculture egg washing pamphlet


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RE: How do you wash eggs?

Yay for science, time for me to chime in. Putting a warm egg in the fridge is probably a bad idea, but if you take a cool egg and put it in the fridge it will be better than just leaving it out. The body temperature of a hen is what? 102-108 f? Once the egg is out of the chicken it cools to somewhere between 60 f and 80 f depending on the season (could drop as low as the mid 30's f, in winter) and a fridge is going to be at around 40 f so putting them in the fridge will be a smaller temperature difference than the fresh egg underwent; obviously this means that bacteria aren't being sucked in to the pores, the amount of suction is tiny compared to how big the pores are for transportation of O2 for respiration and the bacteria are negligibly small in comparison to the pores (unlike the egg and milk bottle) so they would be moved by the force of air friction versus the force of the pressure differential, which is again almost negligable.

Putting the warm egg in cold dirty water will cause the water to be pulled in instead of air, but the removal of the bloom by the water will probably have a more substantial effect. The lower temperature of the fridge will retard most bacterial growth (listerella can grow fine at that temp, but I don't know as if I've ever heard of listerella in eggs) and that will help keep the eggs edible longer, which is why we keep washed eggs refrigerated, but I'm not sure what effect it will have on the embryo in its state of suspended animation, and in turn how this will effect the bacterial resistance of the egg (there are proteins in the white which fight off bacteria as well).


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RE: How do you wash eggs?

  • Posted by paulns NS zone 6a (My Page) on
    Wed, Dec 17, 08 at 18:39

(Just posted to the old thread by mistake - there's Ol Hazza himself!)

Here's another POV, shared by Ol Hazza, who used to post here, and by the fellow whose market stall I used to buy eggs at years ago, who first put the idea into my head that it was preferable not to wash eggs because it removes their protective bloom. He also said they keep best unrefrigerated, at a steady temperature. If we had a room that was a steady enough temp. we'd keep them in it.

From the UK Dept. Environment FAQ, last updated in 2007

Why are eggs not refrigerated?

Before purchase by the consumer, EC legislation requires that eggs are stored and transported at a preferably constant temperature. This is current practice within the UK egg industry and the reason why the majority of retail outlets' egg displays are not refrigerated. Changes in storage temperature and humidity can lead to condensation forming on the egg shell which can cause mould growth together with the possibility that any bacteria may infect the eggs as a result. After purchase, the consumer is advised to refrigerate the eggs to maintain freshness and reduce the possibility of bacteria growth resulting from exposure to the temperature and humidity variations of the domestic kitchen.

Is egg washing permitted?

EC egg marketing legislation does not permit Class 'A' eggs to be washed. These are the class of egg most commonly found at retail level, as Class 'A' is the highest quality of egg. Such eggs may not be washed because it is considered preferable to produce a clean, quality egg in the first place reflecting high production management. Class 'B' eggs and those intended for processing may be washed.

Here is a link that might be useful: UK dept. environment regulations - FAQ


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RE: How do you wash eggs?

It sounds to me from that description that the problem with refrigerating eggs is not the fridge, but taking them out and moving them afterwords, which makes sense to me, take anything cold and move it to a warm humid place and you will get condensation.


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RE: How do you wash eggs?

  • Posted by paulns NS zone 6a (My Page) on
    Thu, Dec 18, 08 at 12:36

Washing, bleaching, sterilizing - it's a trend that's been backfiring, for instance when bacteria build up resistance due to use of antibacterial soaps.

I realize if we had a lot more chickens I might think differently - how do you keep eggs clean in the first place, with so many chickens?


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RE: How do you wash eggs?

Nothing builds up a resistance to sterilizing, to make sterile means to kill everything. Bleach is also very difficult to build up a resistance to, we are only just now learning exactly how Hypochlorite ions work (we know that they oxidize, and that they work better in an acid solution, and have for some time) but its clear that bacteria are not a hop skip and a jump away from bleach tolerance. Washing also is the best thing you can do to prevent bacterial problems, regularly washing your hands and cleaning your animals enclosures is the single biggest, most effective step you can take to keep you and your animals healthy.

Antibacterial soaps are probably a bad idea most of the time for most people.


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RE: How do you wash eggs?

I grew up on a chicken ranch in the 40's&50's. The big "egg factories" were introduced in the 50's. We had approximately 1400-1500 chickens at a time. The big farms have thousands.Our chickens lived in large chicken houses and we allowed them to free range for a short time whenever possible. We would only let out the hens in one house at a time. We collected eggs three times a day in metal baskets, took them to our basement where they were cleaned with a sanding block if needed, weighed and packed in crates. The PCA truck came twice a week to pick up the eggs for market. Under no circumstances were we to ever wash the eggs. That was the PCA rules. Any eggs that were not easy to clean by sanding were washed and used quickly by our family. My parents said washing meant that the life of the egg was shortened.


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RE: How do you wash eggs?

Sanding has been mentioned before and I have done it in the past, before I started washing. I may go back to it after this thread. As I said before, My eggs are very cold when I get them. I'm just happy they're not frozen. Any water I use is warmer than the egg.


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RE: How do you wash eggs?

Keeping the nesting boxes clean helps a lot. I rarely get eggs outside the nests lately. I think all my young ones are laying in the nests now. I try to clean them out and replace the bedding as soon as it gets dirty. The eggs are clean when they are laid.


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RE: How do you wash eggs?

i have a friend who worked at an egg farm and they didnt wash the eggs. if the eggs were dirty they sanded them lightly with fine sandpaper. i tried it and it works real good and is easier then washing them as they dont wash without alot of scrubbing.


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RE: How do you wash eggs?

Has anyone ever washed eggs with a vinegar & water mixture by hand, not by immersion? I got some eggs from a yard sale that were unwashed and was reading all the info here and it is kind of scary. Knowing that vinegar is so natural and kills germs, just wondered if that would be another option. Thanks.


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RE: How do you wash eggs?

If there was something on an egg that might get into my cooking when I used the egg, I would wash it just prior to use! But only with cold water....never anything else!


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RE: How do you wash eggs?

Interesting info here. I just quickly wash all the eggs, dry and put in the fridge. I am curious on input about using bleach. My understanding is that bleach is very bad for us so wouldn't the egg absorb some of the bleach water? I'm with Bette, i.e., would like to know if vinegar and water would be a safer method of cleaning eggs.


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RE: How do you wash eggs?

Using vinegar on an egg is DANGEROUS. Vinegar is an acid. Acid dissolves the eggshell. When you start dissolving the eggshell you allow all kinds of contaminants into the egg. Bleach is not bad for us. Inhaling chlorine fumes is bad for us. Bleach is used to purify your drinking water. All the places warning against chlorine do so in attempt to sell things that we don't need to remove the chlorine from the water. Vinegar and water has it's uses but not for eggs.

Vinegar does not kill germs. Vinegar makes pickles


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RE: How do you wash eggs?

Here's some dot gov info.
http://www.fsis.usda.gov/factsheets/focus_on_shell_eggs/#top

Here is a link that might be useful: egg washing


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RE: How do you wash eggs?

I agree don't wash them unless they need it and then easy on the bleach. 1 tablespoon per 1 gallon of water. If there is chicken manure on them, wash them with the bleach solution. But if they are clean don't bother. Works for me.


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