I don't even remember where I have learned that, but I've always thought it common knowledge: Before a piece of meat gets seasoned, or malleted for tenderizing (sorry, don't know the English word for that), or marinated, or thrown into the pan, or ground, it should be first washed under the faucet, and then patted dry. When I think of it, it also makes sense to me, because the bacteria are always on the meat surface, never inside. So I don't think it is a vestige of the time one got bloodied cuts from the village butcher, but that it applies to the modern meat pieces sold on absorbent pads too.

And then I read this question, which presumes patting (but doesn't mention washing). Most of the answers and comments seem to indicate that patting isn't always considered necessary, and there is no mention of washing the meat or of the dripping water from the washing. In fact, the answers and comments wouldn't make much sense if one assumes that the meat has been just washed.

So is washing compulsory, is it optional but a good idea, is it plain useless, or does it even have disadvantages for the meat?

  • 4
    Most meat is cooked on high heat, which kills surface bacteria in seconds
    – TFD
    Commented May 8, 2011 at 11:00

5 Answers 5


It's neither necessary nor a particularly good idea; it does little to remove bacteria from the surface of the meat (which you're about to cook, remember) and runs the risk of spraying/dripping bacteria all over the kitchen.

The FSIS has an article on it here:

Washing raw poultry, beef, pork, lamb, or veal before cooking it is not recommended. Bacteria in raw meat and poultry juices can be spread to other foods, utensils, and surfaces.

The only exception would be something like vac-packed, wet-aged meat where you need to remove the salt, but that's a matter of preference.

I have never washed a piece of meat in my life and I'm still here!

  • 1
    I'll often do it to remove the salt/seasoning that comes with most packaged meats, particularly frozen chicken.
    – crazy2be
    Commented May 8, 2011 at 17:47
  • 2
    You should not forget the water from the faucet is not free of germs either (no holy water). Nor are your hands. So if you get good clean meat, and sniff it before you prepare it, chances are you introduce as many germs as there were on the meat in the first place. If the meat is slimey, smelly, or just plain untrustworthy, the water is not going to make it safe anyway. Meat is somewhat porous.
    – Posipiet
    Commented May 8, 2011 at 19:20
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    "I have never done this and I'm still alive" is not a valid argument. Commented Jun 3, 2018 at 16:56

I always pat my meat dry but never wash it with water. I believe the rinsing would cause a lot of the blood and meat juices to wash away,leaving less flavorful and less juicy meat. I had a friend who did not like "bloody" meat and she washed it so much it looked pale pink. Needless to say it did not taste very good and had a weird texture.

  • 1
    I've never washed meat, but I agree with the odd texture comment. Any water which is absorbed by the meat is going to turn into steam during cooking. Meaning the area around that water is going to be boiled, rather than whatever cooking method you intended. Boiled meat is typically NOT the result you want...
    – Scivitri
    Commented May 9, 2011 at 20:25
  • @scivitri, if "any water which is absorbed by the meat is going to turn into steam during cooking" was true, I don't think marinading and basting would be so widespread.
    – rumtscho
    Commented May 23, 2011 at 17:19
  • @rumtscho marinades (and things used for basting) don't use water, they use oil.
    – Scivitri
    Commented May 23, 2011 at 19:06
  • @Scivitri Meat is already mostly water. (I was also going to talk about brining, but that topic is more complicated than I initially realized.)
    – MJ713
    Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 21:54

I wash the blood off the cryo-vacted scotchies and porterhouse when portioning bulk meats. I also thoroughly rinse the chest cavity of whole chicken and fish frames to remove organs and blood clots.

There is no need to wash meats and seafood you buy ready from a supermarket or butcher (with a possible exception of live Mussels).


Chickens we always wash in Egypt , first by rubbing with flour and salt then rinsing with water and/or soaking in water with some vinegar added . Beef if prepackaged , I cook directly, no washing . Chicken livers , etc.,... soak in water with some vinegar , drain thoroughly before cooking .

Any slimy or smelly meats / fish of any kind , even slightly , I throw away / compost immediately . Careful with re-freezing , not recommended . Thaw in fridge overnight .

But I do have friends who insist that all meats must be washed before cooking .


Sorry, there is no way I would NOT wash chicken before. We have been washing chicken since the beginning of time and all of a sudden chicken juice is spreading everywhere. If you are careful, it is fine. I have been doing this all of my married life and none of us have EVER been sick from cross contamination.

  • 2
    What is the benefit of washing?
    – Philip
    Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 3:24
  • 2
    Have any of you ever been sick, period? And if the answer is yes, as it undoubtedly must be, then how are you so sure it wasn't from cross contamination? Even if you've truly been fine, it's pretty much rule #2 of food safety that just because something hasn't made you sick before, doesn't mean it's safe (rule #1 being "when in doubt, throw it out"). And you've neglected to point out what you think the benefit of this practice is, which makes this answer not only somewhat dangerous but also unhelpful.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 5:00
  • You think that washing your meat is a clean habit, for hygiene purpose, but in reality, washing the meat is a way to spread dangerous and dirty bacteriae all over you. It's like going to the toilet, and defecate, and flushing the toilet while you let the toilet lid open: it is dirty and spread a great quantity of bacteria. It's the best mean to spread the contamination you think to avoid. Washing meat with water kills NO bacteriae. Bacteriae can't be killed with water.
    – Quidam
    Commented Sep 24, 2016 at 13:04

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