How to polish a turtle shell

Written by brandon getty
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How to polish a turtle shell
Preserve your turtle's old shell by cleansing and polishing it. (Jeffrey Hamilton/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Turtle and tortoise shells are made from dense fibrous tissue, similar to that in a horn or hoof. The top of the shell, called a carapace, consists of plated rows adorned with complex and colourful designs. On the underside is a hard yellow plate which protects the belly. While the turtle is alive, the shell serves as a barrier against predators and helps to keep the animal cool. Once the turtle's life has ended, the shell remains as a decorative item which can be cleaned and polished.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Plastic bowl
  • Mild hand soap
  • Plastic bristled scrub brush
  • Soft cloth
  • Turtle shell conditioner
  • Polishing cloth

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  1. 1

    Fill a plastic bowl halfway with warm water. Add several drops of mild hand soap to the water and stir to create a sudsy solution.

  2. 2

    Submerge the shell under the water and hold it there for several minutes to loosen any dried dirt, algae or tissue on the carapace.

  3. 3

    Scrub the entire carapace clean with a plastic bristled brush. Use a quick circular motion when scrubbing for best results. Turn the shell over and scrub the belly plate clean.

  4. 4

    Rinse the shell under a cool running tap. Dry the shell completely with a soft cloth.

  5. 5

    Apply a light amount of turtle shell conditioner to a polishing cloth. Rub the conditioner onto the shell and allow it to penetrate for 30 minutes, or for the time suggested on the container.

  6. 6

    Buff off the conditioner with your polishing cloth, using a rapid circular motion. Continue buffing until the desired sheen has been achieved.

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