How To Preserve A Starfish

If you are heading off on a beach vacation this summer, learning how to preserve a starfish is great way to bring home a lasting souvenir of your trip.  Preserved ocean life makes for colorful and artistic décor when displayed throughout your home.  Starfish are exceptionally beautiful, almost mystical, creatures, and if you should be lucky enough to find a deceased starfish during a seacoast outing, preserving it will make a wonderful lasting treasure to remind you of a wonderful vacation.

Materials Needed to Preserve a Starfish:

  • A Deceased Starfish
  • Mild Detergent
  • Warm Water
  • Rubbing Alcohol or Formalin
  • Rocks or Bricks to Weigh Down the Starfish Arms
  • Sunlight  


  1. Find a dead Starfish.  There are more than 1500 species of starfish throughout the world, ranging in color from tan to a deep brown.  If you are lucky enough to discover a starfish during a beach walk, ensure that it is dead before beginning the preservation process!  If you find a live starfish, you will want to return it to the ocean.
  2. Clean or soak the Starfish.  Cleaning of the starfish is optional.  If you do choose to clean the starfish prior to preserving it, use a very small amount of a very mild detergent in a large quantity of water.  Many elect instead to soak a deceased starfish immediately in Rubbing Alcohol or Formalin.  Allow the starfish to soak in Rubbing Alcohol or Formalin for 48 hours before proceeding to the next step.  If you chose to only wash the starfish rather than soaking in a chemical agent, you must move on to the drying step immediately after the wash.
  3. Dry the Starfish.  Weigh down each arm of the starfish to prevent curling and place the starfish in direct sunlight to dry completely.
  4. Store the Starfish  properly until ready to display.  As the starfish dries, it may hold a strong odor which will dissipate once dry.  You will need to store and display your starfish in a dry area of the home. 
  5. Display your Starfish in your home.  Create a display with the starfish and any other preserved sea life you were able to collect.  Many choose to display in a shadowbox to prevent damage to the delicate shells and marine animals once they have dried.
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