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How to Tell if an Egg Is Bad

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It’s an all too familiar situation; you’ve got an egg that you can’t decide whether it’s good or not. It could be that it’s got a small crack in the carton, or you forgot and left it on the counter longer than you’d have liked. Either way, no one wants to eat a rotten egg.

Knowing if an egg is bad will help you avoid eating anything that will make you sick or spoil the rest of what you’re cooking.

Typically, a bad egg will smell foul or have a strange consistency when you crack it open. A quick sniff and visual inspection can tell you if eating is safe.

Organic Farm Fresh Heirloom Eggs on white table

Eggs are generally stable. They last in the fridge for weeks before they start to go bad. As long as they’re kept cool and in one piece, you can reliably take them out and cook them without too much worry.

Here’s some helpful information on ways you can tell if an egg is bad and how to store eggs to extend their lifespan longer in the fridge.

Signs Your Eggs Are Bad

Eggs are fragile. They need a lot of care; otherwise, they’re easily spoiled. Thankfully, their fragility makes it easier to spot when they start to go bad.

You know what to expect if you’ve been around enough eggs. Anytime something is off, you should toss it in the trash. It’s not worth taking chances by proceeding to eat rotten eggs. Here are some ways to tell if an egg is bad.

The Smell Test

Raw egg on a plate with whole eggs on the table

The first thing you should do is smell your eggs to see whether they are still fresh. A healthy egg won’t have any strong scent. Instead, they will have a mild aroma. Some people say eggs don’t smell like anything.

A bad egg will start to stink. The smell will be a bit sulfuric or smell like rotting dairy products. If you smell something strong coming from your egg carton, you should throw it away rather than eat it.

Cracking Them Open

Opening your eggs is also a fantastic way to see whether they’re bad. When you open an egg, slimy consistency or what looks like powder in your egg whites are signs it’s turning. You should avoid eating them if you see powder or slime.

In addition, sometimes eggs will have blood spots. This is not necessarily a sign that the egg is bad, but some people view this as a turn-off and won’t want to eat any eggs with embryo growth or blood in them.

Does the Float Test Work?

two glasses of water with one egg each glass for a water test. one egg is floating and the other is on the bottom

There is an easy test to tell whether your egg is bad by simply using the egg and a glass of water.

Take any glass or container and fill it with water. Then, put the egg inside and see if it floats. A fresh egg will sink straight to the bottom. An older egg that is still fresh will touch the base, but the pointed end of the egg may start to tilt toward the top.

Stale or old eggs will either point straight up or float in the water. This is a great test to perform if the egg has been sitting around forever or if you can’t remember how long it’s been in the fridge. In many cases, the egg will still look fresh, but it could be expired.

Top view of raw chicken eggs in egg box on white wooden table

How Long Do Raw Eggs Last?

Raw eggs should last for weeks before they go bad. However, farm-fresh eggs or eggs you get from your chickens in the backyard may not last as long because they aren’t cleaned and prepared the same way as an egg from the store.

However, a carton of eggs you buy in a grocery store should last for over a month as long as you keep it in the refrigerator. This is because the lower temperature slows the aging process and stops them from becoming rotten.

When you take eggs out of the fridge, you should cook them soon. Most people will tell you not to leave any raw eggs out for longer than a few hours. This is because things start to grow when their internal temperature drops, or the slime begins to build up inside the eggs.

A dozen of eggs in egg carton box with expiry dates on white table

Look for an Expiration Date

Most egg sellers will stamp expiration dates on their packaging to make things easier. This helps consumers know approximately how much time they have to cook the eggs.

Here in the United States, we typically get a “sell-by” date and an expiration date. After the sell-by date, there is usually around a month when you can safely cook the eggs without worrying whether they are rotten or not.

However, it’s never a good idea to go past the expiration date with eggs. Eating bad eggs can make you sick. Don’t cook them for breakfast or mix them into your cookie batter. Instead, throw them away and run to the store for some new eggs.

Woman washing a transparent bowl in the kitchen

Cleaning Kitchenware After a Bad Egg

If you are unlucky enough to crack open what turns out to be a bad egg, you should throw it in the trash. Then, take care to wash anything that came in contact with the egg with soap and hot water before you break open another egg.

Rotten eggs are slimy and have a way of sticking to utensils and bowls. Give everything a thorough cleaning before you start breaking new eggs.

Closeup of black and white mildew growing on spoiled egg shells in plastic egg box


Thankfully, eggs aren’t that expensive. People can easily buy more eggs to replace any that have gone bad.

Eggs are pretty shelf-stable compared to other products, especially dairy foods like yogurt or milk. They can last anywhere from a month to a month and a half in the fridge as long as they don’t crack or come in contact with anything else that can spoil them.

Hopefully, these tips will help prevent you from accidentally cooking or eating any bad eggs. Rotten eggs can make you sick, so it’s best to only eat eggs you’re sure are fresh. Follow these guidelines, and you should be in the clear!