How to Clean Seashells and Restore Color - Oh So Flawless (2023)

If you go collecting shells, you are sure to find some beautiful and rare pieces. But it is important to know how to clean the mussels so that you can see and preserve their pure beauty.

No matter what condition your seashells are in, we'll show you how to remove dirt, stains, debris, and even animal tissue.

Soon their shells will be intact enough to display and display to every passing guest.

How to clean seashells without losing color

  1. Soak the peels in room temperature water in a large saucepan overnight.
  2. Switch to fresh water and slowly bring the shells to a boil.
  3. Use tongs to remove the mussels from the boiling water.
  4. Use tweezers to remove dirt and debris.
  5. Clean the bowls with a microfiber cloth.
  6. Wash the mussels well. Air dry on a towel.

Table of Contents

  • Tips for collecting shells
  • How to clean bowls without losing color
  • bleach-free bowl cleaning
  • How to polish seashells
  • How to clean animal tissue from mussels
  • what to do with clams
  • frequently asked questions
  • immaculately gleaming shells

Tips for collecting shells

It's not that easy to go to the beach and pick up an old shell. You may remember that many shells you find are actually homes for various animals such as clams, mussels, oysters and more. Many beaches won't allow you to pick up any living creatures, and often that means their shells as well.

You can test if there is anything inside by touching the shell very lightly. If he moves, leave him alone. This is someone's house.

Some other helpful tips for collecting shells are:

  • correct time:Go before or after low tide when there are tons of beautiful shells ashore.
  • Check the water:Don't just limit yourself to the beach. Also look into shallow water.
  • Search for tide pools:There will be some nice shells in tide pools and mudflats. Just remember to leave the inhabited shells alone.
  • Come equipped:It's a good idea to bring a few items to make collection easier. This includes a bag of shells, a sieve, a shovel, a landing net, a sand rake and of course a pair of sunglasses and a hat for you.

How to clean bowls without losing color

When cleaning clams, people primarily want to remove the periostracum layer and the sea odor. We show you how to do it without damaging the color of the shell.

  • Tempo:30 minutes (plus waiting time)
  • Difficulty:Easy

What will you need

  • agua
  • be tall
  • tweezers
  • Hand towel
  • tweezers
  • Microfiber clothing
  • mild soap (optional)

1.Soak mussels

Place the shells in a large saucepan and fill with room temperature water. Soak them overnight.

2.Boiled water

Change the water and top up with fresh water at room temperature. Make sure the clams are completely submerged, with about two inches of extra water above the tallest clam. Place the pot on the stove and slowly bring to a boil. Let the water boil for about five minutes.

(Video) Turning Seashells Into Glass (Debunking Viral Videos)

3.Delete shells

Use your tweezers to carefully remove the shells and place them on a soft towel.

4.clean clams

Use your tweezers to remove loose dirt from the shells. Clean the covers with a microfiber cloth to remove loose dirt and grime.

5.repeat if necessary

Repeat the steps above if your bowls are still dirty. This time, add about 2 tablespoons of soap to the water for steps one and two. This can help remove stubborn dirt and grime.


Leave the shells on the towel overnight to air dry completely.

bleach-free bowl cleaning

Many people automatically turn to bleach to clean their clams. While this provides a thorough clean, it can discolor the shells. It's also a dangerous chemical. If you want to deep clean your clams without bleach, here are three alternative methods.

with hydrochloric acid

Hydrochloric acid is a strong chemical. Only scrubs that are extremely difficult to clean should be cleaned with acid. You can find it in the paint section of your local hardware store.

  1. mixed solution:Pour ¾ cup of water into a large glass container. Add ¼ cup hydrochloric acid.
  2. Prepare a glass:Fill a second glass container with water.
  3. clean bowls:Using tweezers, dip each bowl one at a time into the hydrochloric acid solution for three seconds. You'll notice the peels bubbling as the acid attacks the dirt and builds up in the peels. Do not leave the shells in the acid for more than three seconds. Otherwise the shell and paint may be damaged. Repeat for each bowl.
  4. Sauber:Use the tongs to dip the clam directly into the water.
  5. Seco:Lay the bowl on a towel to dry.
  6. To brush:If necessary, scrub the case with a wire brush to remove loose debris.
  7. Rinse and dry:If you followed step six, rinse the bowl again and let it air dry on a towel.

best tip

Change the second glass of plain water frequently. Eventually there will be some acid residue that should not affect future bowls.

with toothpaste

Toothpaste is a mild alternative to bleach.

  1. Apply toothpaste:Spread a thin layer of toothpaste on all sides of the bowl. Leave overnight.
  2. Maleza:Use an unused toothbrush to give the shells a good scrub. Submerge it in water to make this task easier. Continue scrubbing to remove toothpaste residue and loose dirt. Make sure you get into all nooks and crannies.
  3. Sauber:Rinse the peels under cold water to remove any residue.
  4. Seco:Let the shells dry completely on a towel.

with hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a powerful cleaner that can thoroughly clean clams. It can also remove bacteria from the shells.

  1. filling tray:Fill a bowl or glass container with hydrogen peroxide, preferably deep enough to submerge the bowl.
  2. Dive:Soak the peel for up to 8 hours.
  3. Sauber:Wash the mussels in cold water.
  4. Seco:Allow the mussels to air dry on a towel.

How to polish seashells

After cleaning the shells, it's time to make them shine.

  • Tempo:5 minutes per trowel (plus drying time)
  • Difficulty:Easy

What will you need

  • mineral oil
  • brush tool
  • thin towel

1.lubricate the shells

Once the shells are clean and dry (allow at least 24 hours to air dry completely), you can oil them.

You can apply mineral oil to a brush and rub it all over the bowl. Or you can gently rub mineral oil over the shell with your finger.

(Video) How to safely clean seashells!

Mineral oil makes the skin glow, but also preserves it.

2.Let the shells dry

Leave the peels on a thin towel (not a thick, absorbent one that might remove some oil) for about 24 hours to allow the oil to settle.

How to clean animal tissue from mussels

If you've found some beautiful shells that are currently covered in animal tissue, we can help you get rid of them. The best method is cleaning with boiling water. We've already covered this, but you can skip some of the other steps to just deal with animal tissue. So let's get into that.

  • Tempo:40 minutes
  • Difficulty:mediator

What will you need

  • be tall
  • agua
  • toothbrush or wire brush
  • tweezers
  • tweezers
  • Body
  • Hand towel

1.Cook mussels

Place the clams in a large saucepan and cover with room temperature water, leaving about two inches of additional water over the top clam.

Place the pot on the stove and slowly bring to a boil. Let it cook for five minutes before turning off the heat.

try this

If cooking more than one ladle, cook longer. For example, if you have five mussels, cook them for about 15 minutes.

2.Delete shells

Use tongs to carefully remove the mussels from the pan and place them on a towel.

3.remove animal tissue

Now for the thick part. Use your tweezers to remove loose bits of animal tissue and shell debris. After removing any large pieces, use a toothbrush or wire brush to clean the shell.

Finally, you can wipe the case with a damp cloth to give it a final clean.

4.rinse and dry

Wash the shells in warm water to remove any residue. Place them on a towel to air dry for about 24 hours. You can clean them later if you want. If not, you can go straight to polishing.

what to do with clams

Now that your bowls are clean, what can you use them for? We have some ideas that you will like:

  • For crafts:You can make many different crafts from seashells. One idea is to stick them on the back of the box in the shape of a heart or star and hang them on the wall.
  • Fill a glass:You don't have to spend years showing off your shells. Just put them in a pretty glass jar and place it in your bathroom, hallway or kitchen.
  • Decorate a glass:Another option is to cover a jar with clay and press the shells before they harden. Use it as pen storage. A great idea for Mother's Day!
  • Hang her:Glue the shells to a few pieces of string and attach them to a toothpick. Hang the stick on the wall and now a beautiful shell is hanging on the wall!
  • Markus:Glue the shells around a frame to display a beautiful family photo.
  • Display in domes:This is a great idea for large clams. Place one or two in glass domes and set them on a fireplace or window frame. They make a great statement piece.
  • Schmuck:Shells are excellent pieces of jewelry. You can craft earrings, necklaces, pendants, and brooches!
  • Spices with:At dinner you can season your (very) clean mussels with salt, pepper and other spices.
  • Trick Trays:Why not use scallops to store your jewelry? You can use them as is, paint them, or even cover them with scrapbook paper.
  • Sea in a bottle:This is a great sensory activity for babies. Place the shells in a bottle with some water and glitter. Fasten it securely and let your baby explore!
  • Krone:If you're really clever, you can glue seashells onto a crown, which would be a great addition to a mermaid Halloween costume.
  • Candles:Pour some melted wax into the shells with a wick and use them as a DIY candle.
  • soap dish:If you have a large ladle, it's perfect for storing bar soap in the bathroom.

frequently asked questions

How to Clean Seashells and Restore Color - Oh So Flawless (1)

How do you keep seashells shiny?

Rub the clams with mineral oil or baby oil if they look dull.

(Video) How to clean sea shells. My process for getting crusty, grimy sea shells gorgeous again.

How to Clean Seashells and Restore Color - Oh So Flawless (2)

How do you clean clams with baking soda?

Fill a bowl with two cups of warm water, two tablespoons of baking soda, and a pinch of salt. Mix. Soak the shells in the liquid for 10 to 15 minutes. Scrub loose dirt with a toothbrush. Wash the shells in warm water and air dry.

How to Clean Seashells and Restore Color - Oh So Flawless (3)

Can you clean mussels with vinegar?

Technically yes. However, you should never soak the shells in vinegar as this can attack them. if you have toclean with vinegar, put some vinegar in a bowl and rub over the bark with a toothbrush. Rinse well with soap and water.

How to Clean Seashells and Restore Color - Oh So Flawless (4)

Can you use clear coat on shells?

Yes, if you want a more permanent shine on your shells, paint them with clear coat. Perform the peeling one side at a time before letting it dry completely. Then do the other side. Keep in mind that this method looks less natural than baby or mineral oil.

(Video) How to clean your shells ? Everything to know about cleaning shells ! Shell Collection

immaculately gleaming shells

After shell collection, we believe proper shell cleaning is vital. Our methods will help you clean your mussels without losing their color. Plus, all of these methods are bleach-free.

Whether you collected your shells from the beach or from the depths of the ocean, our methods will help you clean and polish them. If you want to disinfect them, the hydrogen peroxide method is fantastic.

All of these methods will also help restore color. You may notice that its sandy-colored shell is brightly colored under dirt and debris.

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How can I restore the color on my seashells? ›

In many cases, rinsing in a 50/50 water and bleach solution for 10 minutes, rinsing with cool or lukewarm tap water, and then letting them dry will solve the problem of shells, sand dollars, and urchins that are coated with algae, smelly, or have a dull color.

How do you clean seashells without losing their color? ›

Using vinegar is easy, it's simple and it's cheap. Use a small amount of vinegar into a bowl or cup and use a toothbrush to gently scrub the shell. You might have to do this a few times to get the desired effect. Once you're done, simply wash the shell with soap and water.

Will bleach change the color of seashells? ›

Some people warn against bleaching because the shell might absorb the smell and that can't be gotten rid of. Also, it can ruin the color. So, if you are bleaching your shells, don't leave them in the solution too long.

Can you clean seashells with hydrogen peroxide? ›

With Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a strong cleaner that can deep clean sea shells. It can also remove bacteria from the shells. Fill bowl: Fill a glass bowl or container with hydrogen peroxide, preferably deep enough to submerge the shell. Soak: Leave the shell to soak for up to eight hours.

What does vinegar do to a seashell? ›

When you add vinegar to seashells, carbon dioxide bubbles start to form; did you notice that happening during your experiment? This happens because of the chemical reaction between the calcium carbonate which is a base and the vinegar which is an acid. Together they produce a gas called carbon dioxide.

Does baking soda clean seashells? ›

Fill a bowl with about 2 cups of water, 2 tbsp of baking soda, and a dash of salt. Mix it all together until it is fully dissolved. Place your seashells inside for about 10 minutes. Some of the sand, mud, and algae will come off immediately.

Can you clean seashells with Dawn? ›

Some folks recommend using a muriatic acid solution. Muriatic acid is a strong chemical and I don't recommend using it. Bleach may even be too much for you. For many shells, Dawn or another dish detergent might just do the trick.

How do you clean seashells with Dawn? ›

Instructions to Clean your Beach Shell Collection

Rinse your shells in a large bowl with a little dish soap. This should be a rough clean, just to remove any large pieces of dirt. From there, you can rinse your shells and then place them back in the large bowl, and soak them in a 5o-50 water and bleach solution.

How do you polish seashells? ›

To make your seashells shine for a polished look, rub them with mineral oil or baby oil and allow that to dry for 24 hours.

What gives shells their color? ›

COLOURS. As for the stripes that were on my little googly-eyed shell friend, most shell colourings are caused by pigments incorporated into the calcium carbonate shell, or within the periostracum. Usually the pigments are incorporated in a regular pattern, such as stripes or spirals of colour.

What does rubbing alcohol do to seashells? ›

Cleaning Naturally Polished Shells

To clean them, soak them in ethanol, which is 90 percent pure alcohol, until the outer layer is clean. If they still have an unpleasant smell, drip bleach into the shell's interior cavity, taking care not to drop it onto the polished surface.

Can you clean seashells with toothpaste? ›

To clean a dead shell by using toothpaste: Smear a light coat of toothpaste over one side of the shell at a time. Let the toothpaste-covered shell sit for at least 5 hours, so the toothpaste has time to soak right in. It is fine to leave it overnight to make sure that the toothpaste does its job.

Can you put clear nail polish on seashells? ›

Yep, you heard me right, nail polish is perfect for paining sea shells, it still lets the natural texture of the shell show through, dries quickly and comes in lots of fun colors.

How long do you boil shells to clean them? ›

Boiling water method

Place your seashells in a large pot with water at room temperature. Make sure there are a few inches of water above the largest seashell. Bring the water to a rolling boil for approximately five minutes. Carefully remove the shells with tongs or a similar apparatus and let them cool down on a towel.

Can you use Vaseline on seashells? ›

First apply a layer of petroleum jelly to the inside of the shell, or any areas where shiny mother-of-pearl is exposed. This will protect the sheen from the acid.

What does it mean when someone gives you a seashell? ›

Shells are connected with water as a symbol of fertility and with sea deities and are symbols of prosperity in the form of one generation rising out of the death of another or as a symbol of immortality in the form of shells as grave-gifts.

How long do seashells last? ›

While shells of large species only started to disappear after 3 years in wet acidic sites, most shells of small species had already disappeared by that time. In contrast, in dry habitats the loss of small shells only started after 3 years.

Is it good to keep sea shells at home? ›

Conch shells are regarded sacred and Vastu guidelines must be followed when keeping them at home. Do note here that right-handed conch shells are auspicious and keeping them at home attracts good luck, wealth and prosperity in the household. Also, experts say that conch shell has health benefits, too.

Can you use coconut oil to polish seashells? ›

Gently start polishing your seashell with coconut oil. To do this you can use a toothbrush or cotton buds. This great scallop that I found from the beach last weekend is very smooth so I just spread the oil with my hands. If your seashell has a very rough surface I would recommend using a toothbrush.

What acid do you clean seashells with? ›

2~ Without question muriatic acid is the fastest and easiest way to clean your shells. It will almost magically strip the shell of any barnacles or algae and bring the color to back to life! Use only glass jars and plastic tongs due to the caustic reaction with muriatic acid and metals. Wear gloves and eye protection.

Why do seashells turn black? ›

Just like the lightning whelk below, shells turn black because of sea and sand conditions. According to a comment left on another blog, The Ocracoke Island Journal, shells that have been washed into a low oxygen area will turn black due to the presence of iron sulfide.

What makes shells iridescent? ›

The strong iridescent colors of the shell are the result of high groove density on the surface, which causes diffraction. The uniform stacking of layers of nacre below the surface of the shell also causes interference effects that contribute to the iridescent colors.

Why do seashells turn purple? ›

Seashells, in general, get their coloring from their diets and produce their colors from the inside out. In our area, the quahog clam produces a gorgeous purple compared to the same species in the Northern Atlantic where they are often a deep cornflower blue.

Why do seashells change color? ›

The different colors of shells come from the water in which the organism lives and its diet. For example, shells found in the warm waters of the Caribbean are more colorful than those of Maine thought largely due to the greater diversity of food sources in tropical waters.

How do you clean and paint seashells? ›

Use an old toothbrush or wire brush to gently scrub that stuff off. The final step is to polish your shells. Rub them with baby oil or mineral oil for a shiny finish. Or go all out and paint them with a coat of clear nail polish for real shine.

What do you spray on seashells? ›

Things You Should Know

Soak seashells in clean water for a week to dissolve debris, then deep clean with bleach or toothpaste. Brush away clinging barnacles afterwards. After cleaning, wait for your shells to dry and then polish them with mineral oil or a satin-finish polyurethane spray.

Does boiling seashells clean them? ›

One of the most popular methods for cleaning seashells is to simply boil them in water.

Do seashells fade? ›

Sunlight is the number one cause of seashell fading. If you want to really want to make them last, store them in a glass or plastic container, safe from dust. Shells are delicate and will inevitably fade over time, but the less they are handled and exposed to the elements, the longer they'll last.

How do you clean seashells with rubbing alcohol? ›

To clean them, soak them in ethanol, which is 90 percent pure alcohol, until the outer layer is clean. If they still have an unpleasant smell, drip bleach into the shell's interior cavity, taking care not to drop it onto the polished surface.


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