How Long Do Eggs Last Unrefrigerated?

I have a fairly laid-back approach to this topic. I generally do not refrigerate our fresh raw eggs unless they were so muddy or dirty that I was forced to from sheer grossness. Clean eggs only, please. Yet many people wonder how long eggs will last unrefrigerated or if they’ll last at all. And while this is a common question, the answer is not as clear-cut as you might think.

A hand holds a giant white freshly laid and unwashed goose egg

Your fresh laid eggs are good unwashed for up to three weeks on your kitchen counter. Washed eggs however must be refrigerated. Read on for more in-depth information on egg freshness and storage.

A rainy and muddy day on the homestead. Three ducks forage for worms while a toddler in a green raincoat plays in the mud next to them. A brown shed chicken coop is in the background.
Springtime weather on the homestead is rainy and muddy. The end-result is muddy and dirty eggs too!

How long your farm-fresh eggs can last unrefrigerated depends on many factors, such as how fresh the eggs are and how they are stored, and the conditions of the area you store eggs.

In much of Europe, it is common to buy eggs that are simply stored at room temperature. In the United States and Canada? I have never seen this outside of the kitchen counter of people who raise their own chickens and ducks for eggs. In fact people many people seem to assume that if you don’t eat eggs by the expiration date on the carton you’re essentially doomed to food poisoning.

Let’s take a look at the science as well as the traditional wisdom behind this sometimes controversial topic so that you can make an informed choice for yourself and your family.

Unwashed Versus Washed Eggs

Whole eggs have a natural bloom on them, a protective layer that keeps harmful bacteria from entering the inside. This makes sense when you remember that eggs are meant to be hatched (well, fertile ones anyway) and that the baby chick inside is delicate and susceptible to disease and bacteria the same way any newborn baby is. The protective bloom is to protect them.

Now, most people with backyard chickens do not also keep roosters around and commercial eggs are never fertilized.

When you wash an egg, you strip it of this protective natural coating. Thus only unwashed eggs are safe to store on your counter as the movement of bacteria will penetrate the shell once washed and this can place your eggs in the danger zone where foodborne illness can become a threat to your health.

Washed eggs should be eaten within two hours or else be refrigerated.

Washed eggs are good for approximately 3 months in the refrigerator.

Unwashed eggs are good for approximately 3 weeks on the counter.

Whether you wash your eggs or not, once they are refrigerated, they should be kept in the refrigerator. Cold eggs left out at room temperatures will “sweat” (form condensation) as they change temperatures and this can increase the bacterial growth in the egg as a shell is not completely solid but has pores.

Very dirty eggs should be washed too.

The Float Test

What about old eggs? How do you tell if you have a bad egg? The best way is with a simple float test. You just need a bowl or glass of water .

Last year we discovered a secret nest on our property containing somewhere around 40 eggs. That’s one of those issues you sometimes run into with free range chickens, particularly pullets tat have just started laying.

Our chickens had started laying and we had NO idea.

No problem: we filled up a bowl with water and dropped the eggs in one by one.

If the egg sank, it was probably fresh enough to still eat safely.

But if the egg floated up to the top or even midway?

Those eggs went into the compost pile.

Amazingly enough every singly one of those 40 unwashed eggs sank! After washing and refrigerating them we ate them (yes, including my baby) and had no problems. This was in the height of summer too and that experience taught me just how powerful the protective coating bloom on an egg really is.

If you’re wondering as to the why of this test; it’s simple: as an egg sits and ages, it builds up air inside.

So although this test won’t reveal if an egg is bad, it will reveal if it is too old which definitely increases the chances it is bad.

More Ways To Tell A Bad Egg

Beyond the float test, you can use your other senses. And you will be able to tell if you have rotten eggs, trust me.

If you crack an egg open and it smells off, you should obviously discard it.

Are the egg whites a weird color? Discard it.

Does it taste funny? Again, play it safe and don’t consume.

Use your common sense.

And never eat anything with cracked egg shells because the potential for dangerous bacteria and even parasites is just too high.

freshly laid and washed light brown egg covered in speckles. It is held between two fingers.
a freshly laid speckled egg from one of my Orpington girls. This one is shiny and wet from being washed.

So, Must Fresh Eggs Be Refrigerated?

Eggs are a delicate food, and as such, they can be susceptible to harmful bacteria growth if not handled or stored properly. However, this does not mean that eggs necessarily need refrigeration.

A common myth is that you must keep eggs in your refrigerator and that they aren’t worth keeping if you’ve left your eggs on your counter accidentally…this is false!

While there are factors to consider here, leaving eggs unrefrigerated is quite common. The shelf life of eggs is surprisingly long.

These factors to consider include:

The type of egg: chicken are the most commonly consumed type of egg, and they can last unrefrigerated for up to three weeks.

Eggs from other birds can vary in thickness and other factors.

The room temperature: Eggs can last longer in a cooler temperatures than in a warm room. If the room temperature is below 70º Fahrenheit, unrefrigerated eggs last for about three weeks. If the room temperature is above 80º Fahrenheit, eggs should not be left out for more than one week.

Whether or not the chicken egg is washed: As stated above, washed eggs should not be left unrefrigerated for more than two hours.

How Long Fresh Eggs Last Out Of The Fridge

If you keep your eggs in a clean, cool environment (such as in a basket on your countertop), they should be fine at room temperature for up to two weeks. After that, you may notice a decline in quality, such as the yolks becoming runnier and the whites less firm.

Of course, if you live in a hot climate, you will need to be more careful about keeping your eggs unrefrigerated. In general, it is best to err on the side of caution and refrigerate your eggs if you are not sure.

However, keeping the factors mentioned in mind that can affect (and determine) how long eggs will last unrefrigerated is always recommended. Remember, the type of egg, the temperature of the room, and whether or not the egg is washed can all play a role in how long an egg will last unrefrigerated.

Keep in mind that these are just guidelines and that the quality of your eggs can also depend on how they were stored before you got them. If you are unsure about the freshness of your eggs, it is always best to err on the side of caution and refrigerate them as soon as possible.

With that said, there is no need to panic if you accidentally leave your eggs out for more than a few hours.

a few tips to remember:

  • Eggs should be stored in a cool, dry place.
  • Eggs should not be stored near foods with strong odors, as they can absorb those smells.
  • Eggs should be used within a week of being laid or purchased.
  • If you are unsure about the freshness of your eggs, you can test them by placing each raw egg in a bowl of water. Fresh eggs sink to the bottom. Older eggs will float.
A wicker basket full of hay and 8 freshly laid duck and chicken eggs.
My thrifted wicker egg-collecting basket.

Proper Storage of Eggs (Cute & Rustic Farmhouse Ideas)

Some cute fresh egg storage ideas! Whether you have fresh farm eggs or grocery store eggs, these containers can be used on your counter or refrigerator instead of cardboard cartons.

Collecting & Storage Baskets

These small, black iron wire baskets are a traditional favorite and they are very safe and secure too. Eggs can be secured and displayed without taking up too much space, and you’ll always know when your supply is running low.

Spiralling Dispenser Racks

This egg skelter is sturdy, modern, and space-saving! It holds quite a few eggs and is a fantastic way to display them. The raised edges ensure the eggs will not roll out, though when grabbing an egg, proceed with care and patience so you don’t accidentally crack one.

Rustic Wooden Egg Holders

I love the look of these wooden egg holders too. Rustic and traditional but practical too.

The next time you wonder whether to refrigerate your eggs or not, remember to consider the factors discussed. Keep in mind that three-week window to ensure your eggs eat your eggs while they are still fresh!

With a little bit of knowledge and care, you can make sure your eggs are stored properly and enjoy them for many weeks to come.

a flock of chickens on green pasture.

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