Skull and Bone Cleaning




About: Skulls, props, all that comes to mind. Follow me here Instagram: devoidart

This is a short guide for cleaning and disinfecting medium skulls and bones.

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Step 1: What You Will Need

A specimen to clean

Plastic gloves

A disposable box that can fit the specimen

A delicate brush or just a soft toothbrush

A mask with particle filter


Regular soap

Detergent WITH enzymes for white clothing

Step 2: Acquire a Specimen. (in My Case a Sheep Skull)

I was lucky enough to find a skull, some spine and rib parts scattered around, these had probably been laying out in the sun a while since there were no flesh attached to the parts. For safety, I recommend putting on gloves when picking a specimen up in case of bacteria.

Step 3: Disinfection

After acquiring a specimen you will need to disinfect it, you should do this in a well ventilated area preferably outside, remember to wear gloves and mask, put it in the box and pour the acetone so that it covers the whole specimen (the box should be sturdy, if not it will be deformed by the acetone, this happened to me) let it sit in the acetone for at least 12 hours to kill the bacteria and remove some of the colour. After this step wash it with normal soap, and use in my case the toothbrush to clean it thoroughly, cover it in paper towels and let it air dry.

Step 4: Bleaching (you Can Skip This Step If the Skull Looks Fine After Step 3)

There are many ways to bleach bones, most commonly is chlorine but I don’t recommend this since it can damage the bone.

Sun bleaching is also a possibility, cover the skull in thin plastic wrap and let it sit out in the sun. (we don’t have so much sun here so for me it was not a possibility)

Hydrogen peroxide will also work, just cover the specimen in it and let it sit until the fizzing sound from the peroxide stops. I used this for the teeth of the skull, also its very expensive so I couldn’t cover the whole skull.

Detergent WITH enzymes is what i recommend, you have to put the specimen in a bucket box or something similar, but it should be deep enough so the specimen can be completely submerged, then add detergent WITH enzymes, don’t add to much, for my skull i used 2dl of detergent to 8 litres of water. the water should be as hot as you can get it in the sink for the enzymes to activate and then mix in the detergent before putting the specimen in. Let it sit a couple of hours and check it regularly. Make sure the water is hot enough and to see if the colour is right

PS: If the skull smells funny it’s possible that there still if some fat or residue inside the specimen, let it sit in detergent longer so that the enzymes can kill the residue

Step 5: Finishing Up!

You now have a beautiful white and hopefully not smelly skull to display. Use it in interesting photos or as and art of furniture piece, let me know in the comments if this was helpful or if you have any questions. For more skulls and pictures visit me at

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Thanks for reading :D

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    13 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Useful, thank you. If specimens still have flesh on the bones I stick them into a plastic bag with a handful of fishing bait maggots. Make a little hole in the bottom of the bag for any liquid to drain and leave it somewhere out of smelling range! In warm weather the maggots do a great job of cleaning the skull/bones prior to cleaning as you describe.

    4 replies
    Devoid ArtHenmarsh

    Reply 2 years ago

    hmmm never thought of that, clever, i will keep that in mind for the next time i find a skull.


    Well if you're in sunny Kyrenia (lovely place) you could just chuck the skull in the harbour on a bit of rope. Quick and less stinky than maggots :o)

    Devoid ArtHenmarsh

    Reply 2 years ago

    Yeah i can imagine, i heard that method yields great results, was lucky to find a skull this clean :)


    ive been painting skulls for a while. most are clean from intense sun and rain through time, but someone dumped a beautiful huge ram skull on my doorstep, complete with furry fleshy bits! ive left it out but a few months have passed and it hasn't rotted. I cant bury it anywhere. and its way to big to stick in cooking pot to clean. suggestions? im itching to use it.

    1 reply

    hmmm, "above ground burial" can be an option, you take the skull in a cage or something similar to prevent animals from getting to it and just leave it, insects will find its way to it and do the job for you. If not put on some gloves and a mask and a very sharp hobby knife and start removing flesh.

    Devoid Art3366carlos

    Reply 2 years ago

    That's too bad, but if you take the precaution's you should be fine :)


    2 years ago

    This came out really well, it looks nice with the roses :)

    1 reply

    Thank you :) , the better half of me is a great photographer, wish i had more pictures of the process though....