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How to Clean and Polish Seashells

After a trip to the beach, most people will come home with a few seashells.

Seashells can be used as beautiful accessories in your home, but they must be cleaned properly first. 

You must remove all sand, dirt, and other yucky stuff before putting them on display.

Many people also like to bleach seashells for a different look and/or polish them to make them extra special.

Here are the steps for how to clean and polish seashells.

 

How to Clean and Polish Seashellsphoto courtesy of krayker flickr.com/photos/krayker/2120114362/Wipe Clean
Start by rinsing your seashells outside with your garden hose or put them in a bucket of water and dump the out water, repeating the process several times to remove as much sand and dirt as possible. 

You can even put them in a kitchen collander and run water over them to help remove sand and dirt.

Rinsing them outside keeps the majority of the debris from getting inside your home.

In order to clean your seashells even more, simply wipe them off with a disposable paper towel or old rag. 

 

Toothbrush
For a more detailed cleaning, use a toothbrush to scrub any visible dirt off of your seashells. 

Don't forget to clean the inside of the seashells also.

 

Anything Inside?
If the previous owner of the shell's body is still inside the shell, it must be removed else it will stink really bad as it decays. 

You can use tweezers to remove things, or use tweezers in conjunction with one of the methods listed below.


1)  Bury the seashell in your yard at least 12" down and leave it there to decompose for at least 1 month.


2)  Put the seashells in a pot covered with room temperature water and bring it to almost a boil then shut off the heat and let it sit until it reaches room temperature again.  This should free anything left inside, however not all shells respond well to water that hot.


3)  You can put your seashells in a plastic bag, put water in the bag to cover the seashells, then put them in the freezer.  After they have frozen completely, defrost them and anything inside should be able to be removed easily. 

 

Bleach
To ensure that the seashells are free of germs and yucky stuff, soak them in a cleaning solution of water with 10% chlorine bleach. 

Make sure the water and bleach solution completely covers the seashells. 

Take proper precautions when using bleach that you do not splash it on anything that might be affected (such as your clothes). 

After about an hour, remove the seashells from the bleach and water and rinse them thoroughly in a collander several times with clean water. 

Allow them to dry. 

If you want your seashells to look white (or whiter than they currently are), soak them in a solution of 50% water to 50% bleach and soak them for a longer period of time to remove the coloring.

 

Mineral Oil or Baby Oil
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.

 

Polyurethane
If you want to use polyurethane on your seashells for added polish, skip the oil step and spray them with aerosol polyurethane instead. 

Make sure to do this in a well ventilated area. 

You will most likely need to wait for one coat to dry (per the time listed in the manufacturer's instructions) then flip the seashells over and spray the other side. 

Each side may need two coats or more for a nicely polished look.

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