How to Clean and Display Antler Sheds


April 30, 2014. 1pm in German time. The place: Dublin airport. The food: mediocre. The wait: LONG.

Nothing brings you back to reality quite like ending a vacation filling out customs forms and removing your belt and shoes for the 4th time in one day. Dublin-to-USA airport security is tight.

And nothing sends a chill down your spine quite like having an ARMED SOLDIER escort you from the waiting room to a “holding pen” filled with other ARMED SOLDIERS.

I knew those antlers would be trouble the moment I started haggling for them at a Dresden flea market a month before. But was it worth it?

Hell yes.

How to Clean and Display Antler Sheds || Jade and Fern

How to Clean and Display Antler Sheds || Jade and Fern

I am now the proud hipster owner of my very own antler shed. Or I guess I should say ambivalent hipster owner, since hipsters aren’t supposed to care?

How to Clean and Display Antler Sheds || Jade and Fern

On a side note, I think blue hydrangea + copper + bone white is my new favorite thing ever.

Want to use this look in your own decor? Please say yes, and then keep reading.

How to Clean and Display Antler Sheds

Skill Level: Easy Peasy

Time: 1 hour active, 2-3 hours drying time

What You Need:

  • an antler shed! Try looking on Etsy and at flea markets (the one in Dresden had TONS if you’re ever in Germany). Or if you’re really dedicated, you can search for one in the wild (this is probably the only time a vegan will ever direct you to a hunting website).
  • old toothbrush, soft scrubby sponge, bristle brush (the kind for heavier bathtub cleaning)
  • 1/4 C. baking soda, mixed with just enough water until it forms a paste
  • 1 C. warm water mixed with 1 C. hydrogen peroxide
  • elbow grease
  • old towel
  • 12-gauge wire* for decorating and hanging
  • wire cutters* or strong scissors

Note: these cleaning instructions do NOT apply to very fresh sheds that still have velvet or blood on them! That’s a more intense process that I leave to other DIYers to explain, sorry folks!

*Affiliate links. This means if you purchase, I will earn a small commission at no extra charge to you, which is pretty sweet because it helps me pay blogging bills, so thank you! I will only link to products I have used or would use myself, pinky promise!

What You Do:

Step One – Using a combination of sponge, brush, and toothbrush, thoroughly scrub the shed down with the baking soda paste. Really get into all the nooks and crannies, paying special attention to the base—mine had a couple bits of fur attached (ew).

How to Clean and Display Antler Sheds || Jade and Fern

A. hand-modeled for me! Didn’t he do a good job?

Step Two – Repeat the entire cleaning with the water/peroxide mixture. The peroxide helps to lighten up the darker stains a bit.

How to Clean and Display Antler Sheds || Jade and Fern

Step Three – Rinse off all that gunky water. A hose is helpful if you have access to one, plus then you can make rainbows.

How to Clean and Display Antler Sheds || Jade and Fern

Step Four – Towel off the antler and stick it in a sunny spot to dry for a few hours. (Not pictured because boring).

Step Five – Decorate! Grab that wire and start wrapping it around the antler wherever you want. A thick 12-gauge really works best as it’s less springy and will stay wrapped up better. Make sure the clipped ends all face the “back” side of the antler.

How to Clean and Display Antler Sheds || Jade and Fern

Step Six – If you’ll be hanging your antler shed, you can make a hanger using the same wire. Cut a long piece, 8 or so inches longer than the drop length. Wrap both ends tightly around the antler, leaving a 3″ tail on each end. How to Clean and Display Antler Sheds || Jade and Fern

My hand model went to go take a nap. Poop.

 Then coil the tails around the “hanger” part of the wire, like so:

How to Clean and Display Antler Sheds || Jade and Fern

And that’s it! Now you’re a hipster too.

How to Clean and Display Antler Sheds || Jade and Fern

How to Clean and Display Antler Sheds || Jade and Fern

I’m in love with the way the aluminum and copper wire contrast against the bone white of the antler. Sadly I don’t know what species of deer this guy is from! The Customs Inspector’s best guess was something Eastern European. Any readers have a guess?

And in case my Customs drama scared you away from importing your own antlers on your next international trip, as of this writing, bones and antlers can be brought into the U.S., as long as they are clean and dry, and are NOT from an endangered species.

How to Clean and Display Antler Sheds || Jade and Fern

How to Clean and Display Antler Sheds || Jade and Fern

Which was really good news for me, because I didn’t bother to find out until after I had schlepped that gargantuan 26″ antler across Germany in my luggage for 3 weeks. Still worth it.

What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever brought back from a trip?

Pssst…did anybody notice that pretty white wall? It’s true, I’m finally. done. painting. Reveal coming soon!

Author: Marlene @ Idle Hands Awake

Maker, baker, cat momma, total nerd, perpetually covered in glitter/sawdust/paint. Blogging DIY and design for modern creatives.

12 comments on “How to Clean and Display Antler Sheds”

  1. Ahhhh! This looks so good. I love the way you did the wire wrapping. Also, I would have been TERRIFIED getting escorted by an army guy into a room of other army guys. Any time anything goes remotely wrong at the airport I’m convinced I’m going to get arrested or something even though I’m completely innocent. Sheesh.

    Congratulations on finishing your painting project! From what I’ve seen so far it looks great!

    Becca | Ladyface Blog

    1. Thank you girl! You sound like me, looking guilty around authority figures for absolutely no reason! One time a police dog barked at my suitcase (because of an apple), and I almost fainted with fright! Ok not quite, but it felt close. 🙂

  2. I looooooooove iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit. Not my typical kind of decor but I love the way you styled it, copper, hydrangeas, white walls and all (CONGRATS on being done with that!)
    Good thing you cleared up that you were using a hand model, otherwise I would have left here thinking that you had very hairy arms.

  3. I was lucky to find 9 point antlers (complete with a skull) in my own back yard! I love the way you have used the wire and plan on doing something similar.
    Thanks for the cleaning information.

    1. You must have some backyard! That antler set sounds stunning. Would love to see a picture when you’ve got it ready, just tag me on Instagram or Facebook! (Email works too 🙂 So glad the cleaning info was helpful, thank you for stopping by! xoxo

  4. i was a little worried this wont work but seriously amazing how well this cleans. i needed to do 12 sets of antlers for my wedding and shed that were outside for years!! i didn’t think it was working till i put uncleaned ones next to the clean ones… amazing

    i precleaned mine with a pressure washer before and after but im so glad it worked !!

    thank you for letting us know this amazing trick, this Canadian girl is one happy camper!!

    1. Oh YAY, I am so happy that my cleaning method worked for you! I bet the antlers looked just gorgeous at your wedding, I love antlers so much. Thank you so much for letting me know how this worked for you, it’s always great to know when people use my tips! 😀 xoxo

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