Do you wash your chickens?

Joined Jul 3, 2002
I just read the following in an e-mail newsletter from Cook's Illustrated. I always wash chicken before cooking (and sometimes meats as well), but after reading this, I'm wondering if it's necessary. What do you folks think?

A Cleaner Chicken?
If you asked me why I wash chicken before cooking it, I would say,
"Because my mother always did." Is there any scientific evidence that
proves it is better to wash your chicken before cooking? --Jobabes (from
our Bulletin Board)

Not only is there no scientific evidence to support your mother's
practice, science is actually against you on this one. The U.S.
Department of Agriculture, as well as food agencies in the United
Kingdom and elsewhere, advises against washing poultry. Rinsing chicken
will not remove or kill much bacteria, and the splashing of water around
the sink can spread the bacteria found in raw chicken. (Cooking poultry
to 165 degrees Fahrenheit effectively destroys the most common culprits
behind food-borne illness.) To find out if rinsing had any impact on
flavor, we roasted four chickens--two rinsed, two unrinsed--and held a
blind tasting. Tasters' comments and preferences were all over the
place, leading us to believe that differences in flavor had more to do
with the chicken itself than with rinsing. Our conclusion? Skip the
rinse. If you can't help yourself, avoid the shower in the sink and try
just blotting the chicken with paper towels to remove excess liquid and
keep cross-contamination to a minimum.
Joined Aug 29, 2000
Interesting.... My mom (and I) never rinsed poultry before cooking it until the salmonella concerns of the last 15-20 years or so. I don't think we ever got sick from it. However, I now rinse chicken in cold running water- especially if it's the wetter, packaged chicken from the grocery store. Then I blot it dry. I do this only because of the panicked announcements in the media.

I subscribe to Cook's and find them to be strongly practical and realistic. Maybe this reflects the editor's no-nonsense New England roots. I'm inclined to agree with them. I'll be saving some money on paper towels!

What do you professionals (with food safety training) say?
Joined Apr 28, 2003
If the chicken is bloody, half frozen, or still contained the slimmy film, then I would use a bit of water to help wash away the blood, ice crystals, and/or slime. I rarely ever wash my chicken though pork I will do a quick rinse, my uncles somehow seem to notice a taste difference between washed and unwashed pork.
Joined Jul 31, 2000
It is totally unnecessary to wash poultry (or any meat for that matter).

This process kills little, if any Bactria. The important steps are buying quality food stuffs, keeping them in the proper temperatures while storing, being a fanatic about cross contamination, and cooking your poultry to 165 degrees.
Joined Jul 3, 2002
Me too! :) But when there's some slime or smell, I probably would go along with Headless and wash it. Of course, then there's the question of why would I want to eat smelly, slimey chicken. :( Is it my imagination, or does the smell go away with washing, and what does that mean anyway? Was it dropped on a smelly floor but only briefly? :p
Now that I've written this, it occurs to me that maybe I should start buying my chickens elsewhere.
Joined Jul 27, 2004

I never wash chicken unless it has a slight off odor (like it's getting ready to go bad but isn't bad yet) or if it is especially "liquidy" in the package. But generally, no.

I never rinse any other meat except steaks if I'm going to age them. Then I'll rinse in cold water and blot very dry before wrapping them.
Joined Jul 31, 2000
With respect, you should never wrap your beef for aging as this goes against the principle. Air and temperature are the key.


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
I will always wash my chicken. Till the day I die I will wash my chicken. For no good reason I'll wash my chicken! :D

It's habit of mine. Don't listen to me. CC makes sense. Keep it cold and cook it well.
Joined Jul 27, 2004
I'm talking paper towels :D

I wrap them loosely, changing every 8-10 hours for the first 24 hours then once every 24 hours after.

I find it helps absorb the moisture and whatnot. Comes out great! :D

Thanks for concern, I appreciate it ;)
Joined Dec 4, 2001
I am told that the salmonella bacteria lives only on the surface of meats (and especially poultry) and that washing the bird can remove some of it. Is that true? Apparently not. I have heard Jaques Pepin say that if a chiken is to spend an hour in a 450 degree oven, any bacteria left alive deserves to live!

I always wash my chicken and always will. Like Kuan, just because it makes me feel better.

Joined Oct 5, 2003
If it's a fresh bird from my farm source, no. Everything else, yes.

And I swear my mother used to let chicken breasts -- back when they only came on the bone -- swim in the sink for at least a half hour before incinerating them. BBQ chicken was my brother's least favorite meal.


Founder of
Staff member
Joined Oct 5, 2001
I typically brine a chicken before roasting it and prefer to rinse it off just to remove any bloody juices that it may have been sitting in.

I once saw a cooking show with Jaques Pepin and Juilia Child and JC said she always rinses her chicken whereas JP said that he never rinses the chicken.
Joined Aug 18, 2004
If the water it is in has started smelling then I will Kosher the chicken. Koshering calls for rinsing the bird, salting it with Kosher salt, letting it sit for 10 minutes or more and rinsing the salt off the bird. I just reduce the salt in the recipe to accommodate the extra.
Joined Aug 13, 2004
I wash mine. Put it in a big collander. Rinse with cold water for a few seconds, mix it around, then rinse it again. Then I go wash my hands. I can't help myself. I feel better about it. I don't splash or cross contaminate because it is done with great care.
Joined Aug 17, 2004
Hi People...newbie here...and Personal Chef. :chef:

This washing chickens debacle conjurs up an image of Fred and Ricky in "I Love Lucy" when they were about to suprise the girls with Arroz Con Pollo. The chicken landed on the floor and we see Ricky applying what appears to be Comet Cleanser to it, and washing it! I give my chickens a quick rinse inside 'n' out with cool water, and give it a nice pat dry. Then I massage with butter. It makes 'em happy. Dayummm...I treat those birds better 'n' I treat my man! :cool: But...seriously...I don't know if the chicken really digs it, but I always feel "cleaner" doing so. To each his own.
Joined Sep 5, 2004
LOL. I watched the same show with my girlfriend. She had a regular fit when Pepin said that he did not wash chicken. Nothing I could say could change her mind. My friend said she absolutely refused to watch Jacques again, he was just "nasty".


Joined Dec 20, 2006
Yes, more or less.

When roasting, I'll generally rinse the cavity and the outside of the bird, dry, season, and then roast. However, when making soup, stock, or broth, I use a completely different technique taught to me by a Japanese chef: I will have a large pot of rapidly boilyg water going on the stove and immerse the bird in it just until the water comes back to a boil, at which time a lot of scum and dirt seem to rise to the top. The chicken is removed from the water, rinsed, and then put into the stock pot. There is somewhat less of a need to skim the foam when cooking the chicken, and the final result tastes somewhat cleaner and fresher.

Call me crazy, or perhaps just a bit compulsive :chef:


Latest posts

Top Bottom