Searching for seashells is a standard part of any seaside vacation, but finding a pretty shell with a putrid fish odor quickly turns this delightful pastime into a disappointment. However, don't be so quick to throw that seashell back in the sea; you can clean it at home with ingredients you may already have on hand.

Something's Fishy

If your seashell has a fishy odor, chances are that a dead creature is inside the shell. Use one of two methods for the dead creature removal: One involves boiling, and the other calls for freezing.

Step 1 Boiling

  • Boil empty shells in water for a few minutes.

Step 2 Freezing

  • Create a drying solution made of 1 part of baking soda and 3 parts of salt in a shallow dish. Generously coat and fill each shell with the solution and place with the other shells in a plastic bag.
  • Place the bag in the freezer and freeze until the smells are gone.

Clean the Shell

After the fish odors have been removed, it's time to clean the exterior of your seashells. Create separate piles of shells, taking care to divide sturdy shells from fragile specimens, bivalves and iridescent shells. Each type of shell needs different cleaning methods.

Step 1 Cleaning sturdy shells:

  • Mix 4 cups of bleach, 4 cups of warm water and 1 tablespoon of dish soap in a large container.
  • Add the sturdy seashells to the container and allow them to soak.
  • After soaking for a half-hour, use an old toothbrush to scrub off the barnacles, seaweed and other debris.
  • Once the seashells are thoroughly cleaned, rinse and let them air-dry on a towel.

Step 2 Cleaning fragile, iridescent and bivalves:

  • Mix mild dish soap with warm water in a large container.
  • Place the shells in the container and wash with an old soft-bristled toothbrush.
  • Once thoroughly cleaned, rinse and let air-dry on a towel.