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How to Treat Seashells Found in the Ocean

Seashells add a sense of realism to a nautical decor.
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Beach vacations always result in a collection of seashells. Before collecting the seashells, check for any signs of life. Many sea creatures use shells as their home. When the shell washes onto shore, the animal burrows deeper into the shell for safety. If you keep the shell, not only does the animal die, but the smell is nauseating. Treat the empty seashells you find in the ocean to keep the surface clean and free from odor.

Place the seashells that have dead tissue in a pan of water. Bring the water to a boil and allow the shells to boil for 5 minutes. Remove the shells from the water and rinse under cold, clean water.

Mix a 50/50 solution of water and bleach. Add 1 tablespoon of dish detergent to the mixture. Place the seashells in a bucket and pour the bleach solution over the seashells. Allow the shells to soak overnight.

Scrub the seashells with a stiff brush to remove any algae or other debris from the surface. If the shell does not clean easily, soak it for another night in the bleach solution. Remove the shell and clean with the brush again.

Rinse the seashells in clean water and set them in the sun. Once the shells are completely cleaned and dry, set the shells on newspaper.

Wipe the seashells with mineral oil to bring out the colors and add a shine to the surface. Wipe off the excess oil with paper towels. The shell should not feel oily when it is thoroughly wiped down.

Things You'll Need:

  • Boiling water
  • Dish detergent
  • Bleach
  • Bucket
  • Stiff brush
  • Newspaper
  • Paper towels
  • Mineral oil


  • Do not use bleach on thin, fragile or iridescent seashells. Scrub with a soft brush in a solution of dish detergent and water. Dry in the same manner as the other shells.
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