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Sunday, July 14, 2013

How-To: De-Stinkify and Polish Sea Shells

While in Belize, we collected an enormous amount of shells.

Well, maybe not a ton of shells, but plenty of pretty ones. They made me happy - both searching for them and bringing them back to remember our wonderful island experience.

There was just one problem: Some of the shells had a musty odor and all of them needed a bit of clean-up.

Here's how I took my shells from stinky and dingy to fresh and shiny.

One: Soak shells for 2-24 hours in a 3:1 mixture of water and bleach (3 parts water to 1 part bleach). If your shells are very stinky, make the mixture a 1:1 ratio and soak for 24-48 hours.

Two: Use an old toothbrush to thoroughly scrub the shells after soaking.

Three: Allow the shells to completely dry. I let mine sit for 24 hours.

Four: Lightly rub shells with a mineral oil-soaked paper towel.

 Five: Enjoy your lovely mementos!


  1. Great, Thanks. I love to bring back shells from my holidays, but often keep them outside

  2. Bleach will take the natural finish off shiny shells such as olives, it leaves them very dull.

  3. We collected many shells while living in Guam and found the very best way to clean them was to let the ants do it. Bleach fades the natural colors and adds a smell of its own. Can't get entirely inside with bleach. But....the ants can and will. Make a sand pile outside. Bury the shells in it and just leave them in there for awhile. They will be totally clean and stink free! The reason for the sand is to preserve the color as the sun bleaches them too.

  4. How do you remove the beard off of some shells?