In some parts of the world, it’s considered that the best practice to store the eggs is at room temperature, on a kitchen counter, or pantry. However, in the USA recommended way to store them is refrigerating. What does that mean? Should you immediately put fresh eggs in the fridge? Will eggs spoil right away if left at room temperature? How long can eggs sit out?

First of all, always buy refrigerate eggs and look at them carefully before adding them to your shopping basket. If eggs have some cracklings, don’t buy them. They’re not safe to eat, as bacteria can get through cracks and contaminate the inside of an egg.

When you buy refrigerated eggs in the store, you should put them in the fridge right away when you bring them home. The egg can be left out at room temperature for no more than two hours (2 hours). If left longer, cold egg left at room temperature can sweat facilitating, and during that process, harmful bacteria could facilitate through the pores of the shell into the inside of an egg. The growth of bacteria could increase within time and consumption of those eggs could be dangerous for your health.

How Long Can Eggs Sit Out? Two hours.
How long can eggs sit out? Two hours! (shutterstock.com)

So, remember, if you bought refrigerated eggs, they need to refrigerate them all the time – keep eggs at room temperature for 2 hours max.

Should you wash fresh eggs or not?

One of the frequently asked questions is should I wash fresh eggs when collected from the hen house? It might sound contradictory, but the best “protection” for the egg is its natural coat called “cuticle” or “the bloom”.

The cuticle will protect the egg from absorbing harmful bacteria through shell pores. 

Unwashed eggs last for 2 weeks if their cuticle is untouched. Store them on the kitchen counter or pantry, where there are no room temperature fluctuations. If you’re not planning to use eggs within two weeks, make sure eggs are refrigerated. Also, if eggs are washed, keep them refrigerated.

Fresh eggs don't have to be washed
Fresh eggs do not need to be washed (shutterstock.com)

Tip: Never soak eggs in water. Wash them under warm water, at least 90 degrees F. Warm water will make egg content expand, pushing away dirt from the shell’s pores.

Is it safe to eat eggs left out overnight?

No. If you live in the USA, where recommended way of storing eggs is refrigerating, eggs that have been left out overnight are not safe to eat and that is the official recommendation of the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture – federal agency for food-related questions).

However, some chefs claim that eggs that have been left out overnight, at room temperature, are perfectly edible and even more tasteful than refrigerated eggs.

This claim goes directly against USDA food security recommendations and if you choose to follow it, you’re doing it at your own risk.

Do eggs have to be refrigerated?

Yes, refrigerated eggs have to be refrigerated. When you buy eggs bring them directly to your home (avoid egg shopping if you’re not coming home within two hours) and store them in original packaging. Store eggs in the coolest part of the refrigerator, where the temperatures are 40 Fahrenheit or lower.

Refrigerated eggs
Refrigerated eggs need to be refrigerated all the time (shutterstock.com)

Tip: Don’t keep eggs in the refrigerator door. That is a common misconception, as the fridge doors have a built-in place for eggs. The temperature at the fridge door is not stable, since the door are opening frequently and that could cause spoilage of eggs.

How long can eggs stay in the fridge?

Don’t throw away eggs according to the expiration date on their carton, rather write yourself a little label with a date when you put eggs in the fridge.

If eggs are refrigerated they can last for 3 weeks to 5 weeks without spoiling, and if you decide to freeze them, they can last about a year.

The quality of eggs could decrease the longer you keep them – they could become more liquid, but they’ll still be perfectly edible.

Can you eat eggs 2 months out of date?

The expiration date on the egg carton simply stands there to tell you how old your eggs are. If eggs are stored properly in most cases you can consume them even if they’re 2 months out of date. They could decrease a bit in quality, but be perfectly safe and edible.

You can eat expired eggs if they were stored properly
You can eat expired eggs if they were stored properly (shutterstock.com)

How can you keep eggs at room temperature without refrigeration?

As we mentioned in the previous section, eggs can be kept without refrigeration if they’re picked from your hen house and left unwashed, but there are some other ways of egg preservation:

  • Grease eggs with a small amount of vaseline (it’s not harmful to your health).
  • Coat every egg with sodium silicate (also it’s not poisonous).
  • Freeze eggs (leave them in the fridge overnight to thaw).
  • Boil eggs for 10 seconds.
  • Turn every egg in the egg packaging every 2-3 days and let it stay that way.

How long can cooked eggs sit out?

You could think that cooked eggs are safe at room temperatures, but you’d be wrong. Cooked eggs, same as raw eggs, can be left outside the fridge for 2 hours, or 1 hour if the temperature is more than 90 degrees F. 

Heat-treated eggs (hard-boiled eggs) need to be refrigerated and consumed within seven days, but make sure that they are taken out of the fridge immediately before consumption.

They should be stored in the shell in the refrigerator, and if the shell is damaged or cracked, they should be consumed as soon as possible, ie within 2-3 days. 

Cooked eggs need refrigeration too
Cooked eggs need refrigeration too (shutterstock.com)

Sometimes it is difficult to determine whether there is damage to the shell, and the confirmation for that is the color of the egg white. The hard-boiled egg that is stored in the fridge is cleaned of the shell just before consumption.

Eggs already cleaned from the shell, even if they are hard-boiled, should be consumed within one day and stored in the refrigerator

How can you tell if eggs are bad?

Eggs can go bad, but they rarely do. Still, if you improperly store fresh eggs or left to sit outside instead of in the fridge, eggs can go bad, like every other food.

It’s a more common case that they simply decrease in their quality over time, so people decide to throw them away and replace them with new, fresh ones.

If you’re doubting are your eggs bad, simply trust your senses. If something about eggs looks or smells bad, it’s best to throw them away.

How to test eggs freshness
Simply test egg freshness – the fresh egg will sink down (shutterstock.com)

Here are some details to look out for:

  • Smell them – if they have a rancid smell after you break them, don’t eat them. Also, if you feel a strong unpleasant smell, eggs are spoiled.
  • Look at them – if the shell is dirty or slimy, or if the egg is cracked, it may mean that bacteria have settled. If the shell has a powdery appearance, it indicates mold. When you break an egg, it should not have traces of pink, blue, green, or black color, which is also a sign of bacteria growth. In all these cases, you would rather throw eggs than eat them.
  • Be careful – salmonella-contaminated eggs can look and smell normal, so be sure to check the packing date, or expiration date, to determine how old your eggs are.

You can also try the method of putting in a glass of water. Fresh eggs will sink to the bottom of the glass, while the older ones will float on the surface of the water.

What happens if you eat a bad egg?

Salmonella is one of the most common forms of poisoning, and eggs can be its source. Both the shell and the inside of the egg, including the egg white and yolk, can be contaminated with salmonella, and improper preparation and storage of eggs increase that risk.

Salmonella spreads over time and older eggs may contain higher amounts of this bacteria. This is especially true for eggs that are stored at room temperature or at an unstable temperature (in the fridge door, for example). 

Egg poisoning due to salmonella can make you start feeling dizzy, have stomach pains, or have excessive salivation, it would be a good idea to see your doctor. A combination of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea (sometimes bloody) are just some of the things that can happen to you.

If you eat eggs that have been too long at room temperature you could easily get sick
If you eat eggs that have been too long at room temperature, you could easily get sick (shutterstock.com)

Each egg can spoil over time, and as they get older, different types of bacteria can appear in them, which give the eggs a greenish color or sour taste. Although these bacteria do not cause poisoning, by consuming them you can get nausea and similar unpleasant symptoms.

The consequences of eating rotten eggs may be absent in some people, while in others they can lead to serious health problems.

How long after eating bad eggs will you get sick?

First symptoms will appear 6 hours to 6 days after eating contaminated eggs. In most cases, people will start to feel unusual after 6 to 48 hours. Symptoms usually last up to 7 days and most people do not need antibiotics to cure.

However, some cases of food poisoning can be more serious and require hospital treatment, as frequent diarrhea can lead to dehydration which needs to be treated by medical professionals.