Your eggs started to spoil, and you don’t know what to do with them? Here’s how to dispose of spoiled eggs safely.
There are certain staple foods that we always keep a supply of in our refrigerator, no matter the season and the day of the week. For most of us, these include bread, flour, milk, and, of course, eggs.
These ingredients are found in almost everything we cook or bake, so it doesn’t take us long to use them all up. And yet, it happens that even the most prudent of us buy a little too much of a food item and don’t manage to use all of it before it goes bad.
You’re here, so we’re going to assume that’s more or less what happened to a carton of eggs in your fridge.
Eggs last a long longer than other ingredients. Refrigerated continuously, a carton of eggs can easily keep for 3 to 5 weeks. As with any other food item, they will eventually and inevitably go bad.
Since eggs are in a shell, it’s almost impossible to visually determine if they are spoiled or not without cracking them open. When you crack an egg—and you are greeted by a rotten egg stench or discolored appearance—you’ll know they’ve gone bad.
The question is, how do you dispose of spoiled eggs? The best methods for disposing of spoiled eggs are to put them down your garbage disposal, compost them, or to simply throw them in the outside garbage bin.
Using the Garbage Disposal for Spoiled Eggs
Newer homes—or older homes with remodeled kitchens—will have garbage disposals. These disposals are a great way to get rid of food scraps without stinking up your trash can.
Since spoiled eggs smell notoriously bad, garbage disposals are the perfect way to get rid of them. Crack your spoiled eggs down into your garbage disposal one at a time, letting it run empty between every 2 or 3 eggs to make sure the disposal doesn’t get clogged.
One important thing to note is that you should never put the eggshells in the garbage disposal because it will clog the disposal almost immediately. Dispose of the eggshells in the garbage and tie them up in a plastic bag to prevent any unpleasant smells.
Composting Spoiled Eggs
Spoiled eggs can be added to a compost pile, and disposing of them this way can be generally beneficial to the composting process. But don’t add too many eggs at once—or you risk attracting critters to your compost or unpleasant smells cropping up.
For the eggs without the shell, you can just pour the eggs in and mix them in with the compost, making sure to distribute them evenly. Do the same if you’re adding the eggshells too, but do break the eggshells into small pieces before dispersing them in the compost pile.
It’s worth noting that whole shells take longer to decompose than small pieces. Breaking them up can speed up the composting process. Unbroken eggs shouldn’t be added to a compost pile because they are simply too large and complex for the beneficial bacteria in a compost pile to break down.
Throwing Spoiled Eggs in the Trash
If you don’t have a garbage disposal or a compost pile, you can just toss your eggs in the trash. This goes for egg whites, yolks, shells, and whole eggs.
When disposing of eggs in the trash, there are two potential downsides. The first is how unpleasant spoiled eggs can smell, and the second is that eggs in the garbage, especially if and when they break, can attract animals like raccoons, possums, and rats.
To avoid these problems, tie your spoiled eggs up in a garbage bag tightly and throw them away in an outside trashcan with a tight lid that animals can’t break into. The better fitting the lid, the less likely animals are to smell the eggs and be attracted to them.
If you throw a lot of pungent food away outdoors and notice pest animals around, consider investing in a trashcan with a lock or latch.
What Happens If You Eat Spoiled Eggs?
Eating any spoiled food carries the risk of food poisoning—and spoiled eggs are no exception. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the biggest risk of eating spoiled eggs is that they can contain pathogenic bacteria, which can cause food poisoning.
When eggs expire, or when they are left out at room temperature for too long, bacteria, including Salmonella, can flourish, making the chance of contracting food poisoning from a spoiled egg much higher than from a fresh egg.
The CDC says that the symptoms of food poisoning, which typically lasts for 4-7 days after eating contaminated foods, include diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal cramps. These symptoms can appear 6 hours to 6 days after ingestion. When in doubt, call your doctor.
Can You Use Spoiled Eggs?
Most food experts agree that eggs can last 1-2 weeks after the sell-by date unlike other foods, but there are still risks involved even if your egg appears flawless. It’s safe to use eggs up to 2 weeks after their expiration date as long as they show no signs of being contaminated or spoiled.
Some people who are at a higher risk of sickness from food poisoning, such as pregnant women, adults aged 65 and above, young children, and those with compromised immune systems, shouldn’t risk eating eggs after their expiration date even if they appear fresh.
When you consider that one in five Americans get sick from food poisoning every year, and that 128,000 of them get hospitalized and 3,000 wound up dead, trying your luck with a spoiled egg or two simply isn’t worth it. Err on the side of caution and throw those eggs away.
Even if the expired eggs are safe to eat, they can lose freshness the further away from their expiration date they are. Still, these eggs are great for baking and other applications where they aren’t the primary focus of the dish.
Do Spoiled Eggs Float?
Yes! One of the best ways to check if an egg is spoiled is the float test. A fresh egg will sink, and a spoiled egg will float. This happens because an air bubble will form in a spoiled egg as it degrades, and this air bubble makes the egg buoyant in the water.
This test is best done in cold water, so there is no risk of prematurely cooking the egg when testing it. Gently place the egg into the water and observe whether it sinks or floats.
If the egg sinks and stays on its side, it’s very fresh. If the egg sinks but stands up, it is older and approaching the end of its usability, but is still fresh enough to consume.
Disposing of spoiled eggs isn’t difficult, whether you put them down the garbage disposal, compost them, or throw them in the trash, but whichever way you choose, there are steps you can take to make the disposal safer and less smelly.