How To Clean Chicken Prior to Cooking?

Cleaning raw food during the preparation is essential to prevent any food contamination or food poisoning that may occur. The juice that comes from the chicken can contaminate other foods nearby. It is necessary that you learn how to clean chicken adequately right before you cook and serve it to your family.

Use an acid-like liquid such as lemon juice or vinegar to clean chicken

how to clean a whole chicken

If you are the person who is permanently assigned to cook for the family, then the idea of cleaning raw food is already familiar to you. People wash raw food, whether it be fruits, vegetables, or meat, to ensure that the dirt and bacteria are long gone before cooking. The technique of applying an acidic solution helps get rid of any foul odors coming from the raw chicken.

Before the prime days of the refrigerator, ancient people often used lemon juice or vinegar to clean raw chicken or fish.

It is believed that an acidic solution kills off bacteria present on the chicken while at the same time adding a little flavor. These days, people only use this method to eliminate any unpleasant odor of the chicken.

Rinsing or soaking raw chicken in a bowl of lemon juice or vinegar will help you identify if the meat is still edible. If it gives off an unpleasant smell after you finish acid rinsing, you should probably not cook the meat as it may lead to other health concerns once eaten.

Lemon juice or vinegar is used to marinate or clean the chicken. Aside from reducing the cooking time, it will also allow you to store it for a little longer in the refrigerator.

Watch the video below to learn how to clean chicken properly using lime

Are you supposed to wash the chicken prior to cooking?

The question “Should raw chicken be washed?” has been a debate amongst chefs in the culinary industry.

Cleaning the food before eating or cooking is already a habit for most of us, especially those who love to cook. However, in some cases, some foods are not advisable to be rinsed.

The CDC or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention once issued a memo through their social account to everyone, especially the home cooks, on avoiding experiencing food poisoning when cooking chicken.

There is a high chance of food poisoning when you wash the raw chicken. Campylobacter bacteria can cause food poisoning when the chicken is washed with splashing water. Splashing could lead to cross-contamination of any food-borne bacteria.

When the water hits the chicken, the bacteria may result spreading out onto work surfaces, cooking utensils and equipment, hands, and clothing.

How to manage raw chicken cautiously

clean a chicken

From the moment you touch that raw chicken to when you store it until you eat it, the possibility of contamination is high. There are multiple ways to ensure that the chicken is safe to eat.

Use disposable bag while shopping

Ensure that you put your purchased chicken in a disposable bag. Please make this a habit when you go to the grocery store as it helps prevent the raw juices of the chicken from leaking onto the fruits and vegetables.

Use a secured container to store it in the fridge

When storing a raw chicken at home, make sure that you use a secured container or a disposable bag to store it in the fridge. This will ensure and will help in preventing the raw juices from leaking to the other food stored.

cleaning chicken

Use different utensils when preparing the chicken

Always make sure that you use different kitchen utensils when preparing and cleaning a raw chicken. Whatever you do, may it be skinning, deboning, or breading, use another knife, cutting board, and a plate.

Avoid putting other fresh or cooked food on a cutting board or plate where you recently placed the raw chicken. Anything that is in direct contact with the raw chicken is considered contaminated. Ensure that you wash any kitchen utensils you have used in preparing the raw chicken after use with soap and hot water.

Constantly and thoroughly wash your hands

Do not wash the raw chicken with running water as there is a possibility that the bacteria will spread out to other surfaces when splashed with water. Make sure that you constantly wash your hands with soap and warm water after touching a raw chicken.

Refrigerate leftovers

It is normal to have leftovers, and if you have raw chicken leftovers, do not forget the time frame wherein you have to store them in the fridge. You have one to two hours to refrigerate it or put it in the freezer. The refrigerator’s temperature should be below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Failure to refrigerate it within that time frame may lead to bacterial growth and potential health concerns.

4 Tips to prevent food poisoning

how to clean a chicken

1. Store the chicken properly

Once you are home from the market, prioritize preparing the raw chicken by putting it in a secured container, having it stored in the freezer, and letting it chill.

This will not allow the chicken’s juices that contain food-borne bacterias to spread out and contaminate its surroundings.

2. Disinfect the used utensils by washing

After preparing the chicken, make sure that you have thoroughly washed all the kitchen utensils, equipment, and surfaces to ensure that it is not contaminated.

And to ensure that the spreading of bacteria is discontinued, thoroughly wash your hands using warm water and soap.

3. Avoid washing raw chicken

Although it is already a habit and if washing the raw chicken cannot be avoided, we would suggest that if the chicken was bought in the supermarket, you might soak it in water instead of cleaning it with running water.

4. Cook the chicken properly

As stated by the FSIS-USDA, which stands for Food Safety and Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, it is essential that you know how to cook the chicken properly at the right temperature. Being knowledgeable about the correct temperature will wipe out any bacteria.

Watch the video and learn about food poisoning home remedies:

7 Poultry mistakes you should avoid

Even the experienced chef can make mistakes during cooking preparation and the cooking process itself. Do not worry because it is normal. We are humans, after all. However, try to avoid these mistakes when preparing a raw chicken:

1. Storing chicken above all else

It is safest to store the raw chicken on the bottom shelf of the fridge. The USDA has recommended to everyone that it is necessary to keep poultry in a secured container to avoid juice leakage that may cross-contaminate other foods.

2. The wrong temperature of the fridge

Cold temperature makes it difficult for bacteria to multiply. Therefore, ensure that the temperature of your refrigerator is at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Chicken left unrefrigerated for quite some time

best way to clean chicken

The bacteria multiply twice as much in less than twenty minutes once it is considered in the danger zone, any food in between 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit temperature.

To prevent it from getting into the danger zone, do not leave it out for more than two hours. It is also not recommended to defrost the chicken at the kitchen counter because its juices might cross-contaminate other surfaces. Make sure that you defrost the chicken the proper way and refrigerate the leftover.

Listed below are safe ways on how to defrost the chicken properly:

  • Use the microwave – Though this may be the fastest way, it requires immediate cooking after thawing because some areas of the chicken may begin to cook during the microwave thawing process, which could potentially allow bacteria to grow.
  • Use cold water – Although this may take a while, this is the most common technique used by home cooks.
  • Make use of the refrigerator – This may require more time and effort because of the preparation. Among the first two, this is the most recommended way to defrost your chicken.
  • Do not thaw – It is still safe to cook chicken even without thawing it, but this will take much of your time.

4. Unconscious cross-contamination

There are times that you tend to forget to wash your hands when touching other kitchen utensils or food while preparing and cleaning a raw chicken. Though it may be completely normal, this will increase the chance of cross-contamination.

Apart from using separate kitchen utensils and separating different kinds of food, thoroughly wash your hands at least 20 seconds every time you are done handling a chicken.

how do you clean chicken

5. Reheating leftovers, not with the right temperature

USDA has recommended that you reheat chicken leftovers with a minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit or until you notice a smoke that indicates it is steaming hot. With this, you can be a little bit complacent that the bacteria are eradicated.

6. Not using a different cutting board for poultry

It is completely fine to use a cutting board regardless of its material, whether made of wood, marble, glass, plastic, or ceramic. Just ensure that you use a separate cutting board for poultry.

7. Failure to properly clean the cutting board

You must wash and clean your cutting board with hot water and soap and rinse it well. You either allow it to air dry or pat it using a cloth or paper towel. Failure to properly clean the cutting board will not sanitize and eradicate all bacteria from the raw chicken.


Though you may not be the cook in your family, learning how to clean chicken can actually be an advantage for any adult as cooking is also part of a survival skill. We do not know when we will be needing to use that skill, but one day you will make good use of it.

cleaning a chicken

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