How my Grandma Cleans a Sand Dollar

How to Clean a Sand Dollar

Many children are amazed when they arrive at the beach and find a sand dollar. Most probably assume it is just another shell and do not realize that sand dollars are living creatures. The skeleton of the sand dollar is what most people find on shore, and this is what you should look to collect. Often times you may find a sand dollar that is covered with small hairs, or cilia, and these hair appear to be moving. That is a sand dollar that is still alive and should be left alone to stay that way. Before you display your newly found sand dollars it’s important to clean them properly. Here are 3 helpful tips on how to clean a sand dollar:


This is a simple, but long process. Place the sand dollars in a bucket of water and leave it in about 10 minutes, or until the water turns brown. Dump out the brown water and replace it with fresh, clean water. Place the sand dollar back into the bucket. Keeping repeating these steps over and over until the water you put the sand dollar into no longer turns brown. This will clean the sand dollar but it won’t turn it brilliant white, for that you need bleach.

Bleach and Water

Soak the sand dollars in a bucket of 3 parts water and 1 part bleach. Leave them in this solution for about 5 to 8 minutes. It’s best to let them air dry outside, but if this is not possible, put them somewhere breezy inside to dry. If your sand dollars are not white after the fist soaking, then soak them again, but not too many times. This will cause their structure to weaken

Use a Brush

The longest, and least labor intensive, way to clean a sand dollar is by brushing off any particles that may be on them and letting them sit for many months. The sand dollar will naturally whiten this way. This can be a neat activity for kids to do in the winter time. Every day a child can check and see how much whiter their sand dollar has become!

Once the cleaning process has ended the last step is to harden your sand dollar. All you need are equal parts water and white glue. Mix the two ingredients together, brush the mixture over the sand dollar, and let it dry.

Betsy Cline

Betsy Cline has been a professional house cleaner for 15 years and also a mother of 4 amazing kids (who make lots of messes). She is the founder of How to Clean It and loves to share tips and advice for cleaning up anything life throws at you.

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