Should You Wash Chicken?


Should you wash chicken?
Should you wash a chicken before cooking?
Does washing chicken remove germs?


We recommend that you do NOT wash chicken before using for the reasons listed below.

should you wash chicken

Should You Wash Chicken?

Chicken Safety

Should you wash chicken?
You can, it will not hurt the bird, but it may spread harmful germs all over the kitchen!! The main reason that we do NOT recommend washing chicken is that if there is any harmful bacteria on the chicken (which could lead to food poisoning), rinsing it under water will do nothing as far as removing any of the harmful bacteria (meats such as chicken and pork must reach an certain internal temperature in order to kill bacteria). What rinsing a chicken will do is to spread any harmful bacteria that it may be carrying into your sink, countertops and hands. This is not to mention anything else that your hands or the drippings from the raw chicken might touch in the process!

If you would like to remove the slight slime from chicken pieces, pat the pieces dry with paper towels and then toss the paper towels and wash your hands with soap and water.

Washing does not help the bird.
Rinsing chicken really doesn’t do anything except add moisture to the outside of the meat that must then be removed at some point or it will cause splattering, especially if you are making fried chicken.

So, how do you eliminate and kill any harmful bacteria from chicken?
The only way to eliminate harmful bacteria from chicken is to cook it. Chicken should be cooked until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F in the thickest part of the chicken.

Any other precautions to take when handling chicken?
Actually, every step of the way safety precautions should be taken when handling chicken.

  • When shopping, place any selected chickens or chicken pieces into the plastic bags provided and keep these selections in a separate part of the shopping cart and when placing them into shopping bags keep them away from any ready-to-eat items such as raw fruits and vegetables.

  • When preparing, place the chicken directly into the baking pan and then wash your hands.
    Always wash your hands and any surface or utensil that the raw chicken may have come in contact with.

  • When cooking, make sure chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F before serving.
    If you cut it open and see any blood then continue cooking the chicken.

  • When storing, leftovers should be wrapped tightly and used within the week.
  • When freezing, you can leave it in the original packaging if using the product within a week. Otherwise, it should be securely re-wrapped in plastic wrap before freezing. When defrosting, leave it in the refrigerator the day before it is needed. Chicken should not be defrosted at room temperature as the bacteria can grow rapidly at temperatures warmer than 40°F. If you need to speed defrost, place the sealed chicken in a bowl of cold water and then cook it right after defrosting.

  • Should you wash pork (the other white meat)?
    No, don’t wash pork either. All of the above precautions also need to be followed when working with raw pork.

    Should You Wash Chicken?

    Additional Information

    For help in determining if your chicken is too old, see our chicken page.

    For more on determining the proper temperature for cooked meats, see our internal temperature post.

    To find out how long other foods are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or use the search function below.

    SEARCH Eat By Date