At the end of the summer, drifting filamentous red algae cover shallow bottoms and accumulate in huge cast walls on the open shores of the non-tidal central Baltic Sea. The hypotheses that beach cleaning increases water clarity, decreases the organic content of the sand, and increases the species diversity in the shallow zone closest to the shore, were tested through field investigations and experiments. Cleaned shorelines were compared with un-cleaned shorelines at two sites with different intensity of beach cleaning in a rural area of SE Sweden. The results show that water clarity was significantly increased off the intensively cleaned beach but not off the moderately cleaned one. Similarly, the total leakage of nitrogenous compounds decreased off the intensively cleaned beach, but not off the moderately cleaned. The organic content of the sand was lower on both cleaned beaches compared with nearby un-cleaned beaches. The total animal biomass was significantly lower on the intensively cleaned beach compared with the un-cleaned beach, but the moderately cleaned beach gave no such effect. The difference in biodiversity and community structure between cleaned and un-cleaned beaches was insignificant. The most obvious difference in species composition was a much higher number of planktivore opossum shrimps of the genus Mysis and Praunus on the un-cleaned beaches. The bacterial production and the amount of ciliates larger than 20 mm were also higher on un-cleaned beaches, indicating that the microbial food web off the un-cleaned beaches is stimulated by the discharge of decomposing algal material. The conclusion of the study is that mechanical cleaning reduces the organic content of the beach sand and may change the water quality and microbial production, but the effect on the macrofaunal biodiversity is insignificant.