Full Version: Should u clean shells before selling for safety/health reasons
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Should you clean shells for any health or safety reason before selling or is cleaning just for appearance reasons?
That depends on just what you mean by "cleaning". If you caught the mollusk alive, the first step in "cleaning" is to remove the soft parts of the animal from inside the shell, which is usually done by cooking, followed by extraction of the soft parts by use of a hooked tool and/or pressurized flushing. Failure to do this will not result in any great health threat but it may result in a very unpleasant odor, which could cause your package to be confiscated if you mailed the shell to someone. Further cleaning is not absolutely essential, and once the shell has dried thoroughly there should be little if any odor.

However, collectors generally like to receive shells that have been cleaned more thoroughly than this, both internally and externally, especially if they are paying for the shells. The commonest way to accomplish this is to lower the shell spire downward, into a container of 10% to 20% chlorine bleach solution (Chlorox or a similar brand). Leave it a couple of hours, then flush thoroughly under running tap water several times. Shake out as much water as possible, then allow the shell to dry. Again, none of this has anything to do with health or safety, just odor and appearance.

Finally, there many be attachments of other organisms to the outside of the shell, such as tubeworms, barnacles, bryozoans, etc. It may be necessary to pick these off the shell with a sharp pointed metal tool, once the shell is dry.
Thank you very much for writing such a detailed and informative response. I appreciate it. It's very helpful to know I do not have to clean the shells and the instructions for cleaning them if I decide to this.
I do not know the origin of my shells. They were in storage for awhile. How would I know if there is an animal inside? I do not see anything in the openings but I can only see the viewable part of the opening.
Thank you for your time
If there is no odor, I wouldn't worry about any remaining tissue inside. If you would like the names of your shells and the approximate geographical area they came from, feel free to post pictures of them.
Thank you very much for offering to identify my shells. It is very kind of you. I am unsure if I should post them here or the ID forum. I guess I will post in ID forum.
Thank you for the information about cleaning shells.
We would like to clean our shells with 10% bleach solution, but we do not know which if any of the shells have been cleaned already. Since we don't know this--if there are shells that were cleaned previously, would it damage them if we cleaned them a second time? Also, can we just put around 40 shells in a bucket a once? How many hours do you suggest they soak?
Thank you for your time,