How To Clean a Conch Shell

Do you have some conch shells that are covered with dirt, grime or other forms of buildup in your collection? There's no denying the fact that clean conchs are more attractive and make better collectibles. Unfortunately, not many people know the right way to clean them. As a result, they are left with dirty conch shells that aren't nearly as attractive as they should be. The good news is that cleaning a conch shell is actually quite easy. If you are wondering how, keep reading for a closer look into how to clean a conch shell.

Cleaning a Conch Shell

Cleaning a Conch Shell

Do I Really Need To Clean My Conch Shells?

The truth is that cleaning a conch shell is a personal decision that only you can make. Depending on how dirty it is, cleaning could result in a fresh, vibrant new look that's well worth the investment of your time and energy. The entire process only takes a couple hours, and it will likely result in a sparkling clean conch.

It's important to note that certain conch shells which appear dirty may actually possesses a dark brown organic skin coating known as periostracum. It's a common occurrence in all types of mollusks, conchs included. Personally, I think the addition of periostracum gives a unique touch to an otherwise ordinary conch shell. Instead of the plain white color that you are used to seeing, the conch shell will possesses a darker palette that's almost mottled.

Step #1  - Soaking In Bleach

When you are ready to start cleaning your conch shells, go ahead and fill up a standard-sized bucket with 1 part water and 1 part bleach (half and half). If you read our previous post on how to remove barnacles from a conch shell, you'll probably recall this very same step. So, what's the purpose of soaking your conch shells in a solution of diluted bleach? Well, it does a couple things, such as loosens up any stubborn dirt or debris stuck on the shells, and it's helpful for giving them a bright white coloring that's commonly associated with conchs.

Anytime you use bleach, especially in large amounts, it's a good idea to take your work outside. Even small amounts of bleach can easily ruin your carpet by stripping the color out of it. To prevent this from happening, take the bleach outside to clean your conch shells. Trust me, you'll be glad you did!

Dental Pick

Dental Pick

Step #2 - Picking

The second step  necessary to clean a conch shell is to pick away any barnacles are other formations covering the surface. There are several different ways to accomplish this, but I recommend using a set of dental probe tools. You can find these available for sale through a number of different stores both online and offline. Contrary to what some people may believe, basic dental tools don't cost a ton of money. Depending on where you are shopping, you should be able to find some entry-level tools available for around $15-$20 bucks.

Picking away the barnacles and mineral deposits on a conch shells is a pretty straightforward process. Once you've acquired a set of basic dental tools, use the pick (see image to the left) to pick out any unnatural formations on the shell. Dig the pointed hook end of the tool underneath the hardened formations and pull it outwards. Continue doing this until you've removed the hardened deposits and formations on the shell.

Step #3 - Brushing

Scrubbing Conch Shell

Scrubbing Conch Shell

The third step towards achieving a clean conch shell is to give it a good brushing.  You can use either a dish cleaning sponge, shower sponge or even a toothbrush during this step. Just brush off the remaining debris on your conch shell using your preferred brushing tool. If there's dirt or debris that's not going off, use a little bit of warm water with mild dish soap to loosen it up.

Depending on how much dirt and debris the previous steps removed, brushing may or may not be necessary.  Unless I find a conch shell on the beach that's filthy dirty, I can usually skip this step. Of course, some conch shells are naturally dirtier than others, so you'll have to decide whether on not brushing is necessary.

Clean Conch Shell

Clean Conch Shell

Step #4 - Rinsing Drying

The fourth and final step in cleaning a conch shell is rinsing it off with water one last time followed by drying. This is necessary to remove any debris particles that may still be lingering on the shell's surface. Just run some water over your conch shell and place it outside in the direct sunlight for an hour or so. Once it's dried, you should be left with a sparkling clean conch!

If possible, I recommend using distilled water instead of tap water. It's no secret that tap water is full of chemicals like chlorine to help kill off potentially harmful parasites and bacteria. While these chemicals are necessary to make tap water drinkable, they may also leave behind impurities and residue when used on conch shells. You can prevent this from happening by rinsing your conchs with distilled water rather than tap.




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