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How to Clean Seashells the Right Way – Includes 2 methods

Learn how to clean seashells to remove gunk and smells. The methods below prepare your shells for crafts or for beach inspired home decor.

How to clean seashells the right way - no smells

Sea shells that have been left behind by the sea can be a fun souvenir to take home from the beach. There’s a ton of ideas on crafting or even creating art work with shells. But before crafting with them its a good idea to learn how to clean seashells the right way!

Cleaning them properly will remove the smells and gunk often left behind.

I also make sure I pick seashells that don’t have live animals in them- you don’t want to evict anyone from their sea homes! To check, just pick one up and take a quick peak under the shell to find out, it should be empty.

I’ve included two seashell cleaning methods below.

You’ll learn how to how to clean seashells with bleach first. This is the method I used with a bunch of shells I collected from the beach last summer and it it works well.

After that, I’ll go over how to clean seashells without using bleach. I wanted to include it just in case you have issues with bleach.

Once they’re cleaned, I’ll give you a tip on how to make seashells shine.

Also, if your looking for crafts to make with your clean new seashells, check these out:

And if you have some sea glass with your shells, you might like this

Here’s the tutorial…

How to Clean Seashells with Bleach

 
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Learn how to clean seashells with bleach so that they get rid of smells. Warning: bleaching them might lighten their natural color.

Materials
 
Instructions
  1. Mix 3 Tbsp of bleach per 1 gallon of water into a bucket. You want enough liquid so that your shells are fully covered in it
  2. Put on your latex gloves and gently place your sea shells into the water -bleach bath
  3. Place into a safe place and leave them in for about 5-8 hours (depending on how dirty they are).
  4. After 5-8 hours has passed, drain the beach water liquid and rinse shells with some clean water.
  5. Place the shells to dry on some old newspaper.

TIP: Once dried, take some mineral oil and polish the shells to bring out shine and color. You can rub the oil on with hands or a paper towel

 

How to clean seashells without using bleach

how to clean seashells boiling water

Learn how to clean seashells without using bleach, by simply boiling them! 

Materials

Instructions
  1. Soak your seashells in a bath of water overnight or longer if your not in a rush (up to 7 days) .
  2. Put sea shells in a large pot of water. Make sure the water is at room temperature before putting in the sea shells into water – this will ensure the shells don’t crack. Cover the shells with 2 inches of extra water.
  3. Bring water with shells to a boil. Let the water come to a rolling boil for about 5 minutes ( longer if you have a lot of shells or larger ones).
  4. Using tongs, take shells out and put them on a soft surface (like a towel) to cool.
  5. Using tweezers or another tool, pull out any gunk from inside the shells and throw out
  6. Your done and now know how to clean seashells without using bleach!

TIP: Once dried take some mineral oil and polish the shells to bring out shine and color. You can rub the oil on with hands or a paper towel

 

Et voila! You’ve learned how to clean seashells with bleach , how to clean seashells without using bleach, and how to make seashells shine.

Happy crafting and seashell collecting! If your crafting with them, drop a comment below and share your seashell craft ideas…

SEA ya next time!

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How to clean seashells the right way no smells
 
 
 
 
 

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James

Saturday 10th of September 2022

Hi ! I’ve got a beautiful wall hanging made of miniature seashells that’s made up of colors meticulously organized to portray a ship with sails. The shells are strung on fish line or similar. Overtime , they’ve accumulated dust, that’s now dulls the bright color variations and has turned grimy looking. Can you recommend a “ bath” to soak them in and restore the beautifully artwork without compromising or dissolving or weakening the filament the shells are strung on ?

Denise

Monday 8th of August 2022

To get rid of built up sand and cement type substances on shells

Denise

Monday 8th of August 2022

What do you recommend to get built up sand and cement type substance on shells?

Heidi

Tuesday 24th of May 2022

Hello! I have been collecting shells and rocks to do a project with. My idea was to combine them in an empty glass jar and then add a mixture of glow in the dark glitter glue and water to put outside on my patio. Any suggestions? I wasn't sure if I needed to do anything specific with the shells or the mixture to prevent mold or any other issues?? Thank you so much!

Jasmine Khinda

Tuesday 24th of May 2022

Hi Heidi,

That sounds like a lovely project :) I am not sure about the mold issue, but it sounds like it should be okay to do. Kind of like a snowglobe that has water inside. You could wash/clean the shells the best you can so there is no debris on them, but other than that it sounds like a fun project! Enjoy!

Cheers, Jasmine

Marie

Wednesday 9th of December 2020

Please can you give me a little bit of advice: Mom gave me a nice big shell a few years ago and I put it near my water future I now want to put it in my house as a ornaments but all the colors fade away Is it possible to paint it or wat can I do I will appreciate it if you can please send me some advice Is it possible to answer me on wapp? Thank you Marie Rademeyer

Jasmine K

Wednesday 9th of December 2020

Hi Marie, You can definitely paint it or even seal it with a clear coat of varnish if you want to preserve the natural coloring. Here is a post I did where I painted some seashells as an example: https://feelingnifty.com/sea-shell-diy-candles/. If you need more guidance please email me directly at [email protected]

Cheers, Jasmine

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