How to Clean Coins

Penny for your thoughts? Do you know how many times each coin exchanges hands? The average US quarter stays in circulation for 30 years, so that could mean thousands of people have touched the money that is currently sitting in your piggy bank. There are even more germs on your money than a toilet seat — so every time you dig through your car seats for coins to buy that drive-through ice cream, remember that you’re basically touching a public bathroom. Gross!

Is There a Right Way to Clean Old Coins?

Dig out that old coin collection you had as a kid. Some of those valuable coins may be darkened with patina, the green or brown film that is commonly found on gold coins. Removing the patina off rare coins can actually degrade their value because small bits of metal can be etched away during a thorough cleaning process. Even professional coin experts agree that cleaning old coins is a big no-no. Some coin collectors even prefer their coins to retain their natural patina, not only because the resale value is higher but also because it’s more realistic for coins to clearly show their age. It’s fine — and better — to leave that rare 1943 copper penny out of the cleaning solution.

Can You Clean Everyday Coins?

Thankfully, you can still clean your everyday change and it won’t degrade their value. Coins spend much of their lives in pockets, purses, couch cushions, cash registers, and even wishing wells! Not only will they become covered in germs from exchanging hands, but oxidation and dirt can build up on the surface, leaving your nickels essentially indistinguishable from pennies. You know it’s time to clean your coins when your dimes begin to look like pennies! Luckily, there are many items in your cleaning closet — and fridge — that work well to clean your coins. 

How to Clean Coins with Baking Soda

Materials Needed:

  • two bowls
  • water
  • baking soda
  • an old toothbrush
  • a soft cloth

Pour your coins into one bowl and fill with cold water until the money is well covered. In the other bowl, pour about 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Dip the toothbrush into the bowl of baking soda and scrub the coins. The baking soda should remove any dirt and grime and won’t scratch the metal. Rinse the coins thoroughly with water and dry with the soft cloth.

Some sodas are great cleaners for coins

How to Clean Coins with Coke

Who would have thought that your favorite soda is also a great cleaning agent? Yes, that refreshing can of Coke that you like to drink by the pool can also clean coins! Coke’s phosphoric acid can clean the oxides that cause tarnish and corrosion.

Materials Needed:

  • one bowl
  • can of Coke
  • water
  • a soft cloth

Pour your coins into the bowl and fill with Coke. Let the coins soak in the soda for about 5 minutes, then check to see if the corrosion has washed away. If the coins still feel grimy, then you can return them to the bowl for up to 15 minutes. If left much longer than 15 minutes, the soda can dissolve the metals. Rinse the coins thoroughly with water and dry with a soft cloth.

How to Clean Coins with Hydrogen Peroxide

Has a cashier ever given you your change and you just cringed at the grimy and oily feel of the coins? Hydrogen peroxide will fix that. Not only will the hydrogen peroxide dissolve the years of dirt on the coins but it will also sterilize them.

Materials Needed:

  • one bowl
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • water
  • a soft cloth

Pour your coins into a bowl and pour enough hydrogen peroxide to cover the coins. Let the coins soak for 24 hours. Rinse them with water, then dry with a cloth.

Cleaning your coins is easier than you think

How to Clean Coins with Vinegar

Vinegar may smell foul, but its strong acidity is great for disinfecting and brightening money. When coins are clean from dirt, oils, and corrosion, it allows their natural luster to shine.

Materials Needed:

  • one bowl
  • white vinegar
  • water
  • an old toothbrush
  • a soft cloth

Pour your coins into a bowl and pour enough white vinegar to cover the coins. Let the coins soak for at least 30 minutes but no longer than overnight. Remove the coins and gently scrub the residue with the toothbrush. Rinse the dirt off with water and dry with a cloth.  

How to Clean Coins with Ketchup

Forget dipping your fries and hamburger in ketchup, did you know that you can use it to clean coins? The combination of the salt and acidic tomatoes can break down the years of grime that has built up on your money.

Materials Needed:

  • one bowl
  • tomato ketchup
  • water
  • a soft cloth

Pour your coins into a bowl and squirt enough ketchup to cover the coins. Let the coins soak for at least 30 minutes but no longer than overnight. Remove the coins and gently scrub the residue with the toothbrush. Rinse the dirt off with water and dry with a cloth.  

How to Clean Coins with Lemon Juice

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade…and an acidic concoction to clean your pennies. That’s right! Just like in tomatoes, the acidity in lemons will also dissolve dirt. This method is perfect for pennies because it will remove the brown oxidation that can dull their copper shine.

Materials Needed:

  • one bowl
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  • water
  • a soft cloth

Pour your coins into a bowl and pour 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 cup of lemon juice to cover the coins. Let the coins soak for at least 5 minutes but not more than 15 minutes. Remove the coins and gently scrub the residue with the toothbrush. Rinse the dirt off with water and dry with a cloth.  

It's not hard to find the tools and supplies to clean your coins. Don't let your coins house germs and grime and keep them safe and shiny with our tips and guidelines. 

 

Related Articles

Comments (1)

Rebecca Gardner Posted on

It’s good to know that copper pennies can easily be clean with a combination of salt and lemon juice. I just learned that my brother is interested in researching coins and starting a small collection in his spare time. Thanks for sharing these tips I can pass along in case he gets any pennies for his new collection! https://www.roguevalleycoinandjewelry.com/coins

Leave a Reply

Comments are moderated and require approval.