This is a question that is up for debate! There are different theories on the subject.
The short answer?
Chicken eggs have an invisible membrane around them called a “bloom,” and as long as the bloom is intact, bacteria (good or bad) will not get into the egg. If you wash your eggs, you risk the chance of making them more porous, so that bacteria can get inside of the egg. The bloom protects the quality of the egg and keeps it fresh longer. If you plan to go camping and do not want to refrigerate your eggs or stick them in a wet, icy cooler, don’t wash them.
The other short answer?
Unless your coop was built perfectly and you keep it spotlessly clean, your eggs are going to be dirty. There will be poop, dirt, pine bedding, and feathers on your eggs, maybe occasionally, and maybe often. If you live in Oregon, where it rains often, your chicken eggs are more likely to get dirty than they might in a drier location. I personally don’t like cracking poopy, muddy eggs into my breakfast skillet. 🙂
Customers like clean eggs. If you’re selling your eggs at the farmer’s market, you might get the super-educated person who asks you for unwashed eggs. But MOST of your customers are going to want clean eggs.
So, if you want to wash them, how do you wash them the right way?
1. Wait until you’re going to use them or sell them. Letting them sit with all of that junk on them isn’t pretty, but it does not hurt the eggs. Just keep them out at room temperature, in a basket in your utility room (or somewhere out of sight, if they bother you) until you are ready to use them.
2. Use sand paper or a Green Scouring Pad (this is what we use). First, try to scrape the junk off with a dry scouring pad or sand paper.
3. If the stuff does not come off dry, use room temperature water to wash off your eggs and scrub them with a green scouring pad.
4. Make sure to throw away your green scouring pad often–weekly or monthly, whatever you choose. It’s gross to use the same one over and over!
5. Do not use bleach, or soap on your eggs.
6. If you are cleaning a lot of eggs to sell at the farmer’s market and you want shiny, clean eggs to sell, use an egg washer like this, the day you are headed to market (or maybe the day before, but not much sooner than that). Do not put any chemical solutions in your egg washer. The main ingredients (without the chemicals) in the egg washing solution are: citric acid and yeast. We use 1 Tablespoon of citric acid and 1 teaspoon of yeast for a full basket of eggs. The egg washer does not clean the eggs completely, it simply loosens the dirt. We then use a green scouring pad to scrape off the dirt/poop. This process results in beautiful, clean eggs!
What are your thoughts? Do you wash your eggs?