Do you have old coins that are now tired, worn out, and coming apart? Or perhaps you want to clean up a newer coin. Follow these steps, and you will find that it is not that hard to clean coins.

Things to know before cleaning old coins

First off, here are some things that you should know before beginning the cleaning process:

Legality of Cleaning Old Coins

It is illegal for you to clean coins if they are still in circulation. If your coins aren’t worn out but just dirty or old-looking, consider leaving them alone.

Test Cleaning method on small spot first

Test cleaning method on an unimportant coin first if possible! Try cleaning a small spot on the coin with whatever method you choose. If there aren’t any harmful effects (tarnishing, etc.), go ahead and give it a try on the whole coin.

Now that you know what not to do, let’s go over some possible ways to clean your coins:

How to clean old coins?

Use soap and water

This is pretty simple; make a mild soap solution (a few drops of non-abrasive dishwashing liquid in some water), scrub the coin with an old toothbrush (or other soft brush), and rinse it off with water. Then dry it carefully (don’t touch it until scorched!) with a towel or soft cloth. Be careful not to rub too hard – the coin’s surface is thin and can be damaged very easily.

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Use vinegar and water

This will work well for coins with a lot of dirt and/or grime on them, though it may also take off the patina if the currency is old enough. Mix a 50-50 solution of white household vinegar (5% acidity) and water in a container, add your coins, put the lid on, and let sit for about 15 minutes. Then remove from liquid with a slotted spoon or tongs (don’t pour into a strainer; lift out), rinse under cold running water, dry with a soft cloth or towel, then set in sundlight of warm place before keep them away.

Use lemon juice

this will remove the patina, so only use it if you are okay with that. It is also a weak acid, so follow the exact safety instructions as for vinegar. Get a flask big enough to fit your coins comfortably in one layer, put them in there, and cover with fresh lemon juice (this should be about 1 part lemon juice to 4 parts water by volume). Put the lid on, let sit for 15 minutes or so, then rinse under cold running water and dry with a cloth. Set in a warm place to dry thoroughly before putting away.

Use salt

This is pretty simple; sprinkle some sodium chloride (table salt) into your container of choice (if you like, mix with a bit of vinegar, which will speed up the cleaning process), put your coins in there, and pour some water on top (distilled or boiled tap water is fine; avoid mineralized water if possible). Let sit for fifteen minutes or so, then remove from liquid with a slotted spoon or tongs (don’t pour into a strainer) using extra caution not to wet the part where the date is. Set somewhere to dry completely before putting away.

Use ketchup

This might sound strange, but it effectively removes dirt and corrosion from old coins! You’ll need to go through the similar phases as if you were using salt: put your coins in a container, cover with ketchup (yes, the condiment), add a bit of water, and let sit for 15 minutes. Then remove from liquid with a slotted spoon or tongs as before, set somewhere to dry thoroughly before putting away, and be very careful not to wet the part where the date is when handling!

Use baking soda

Just like salt, this will also speed up the cleaning process slightly by removing some corrosion or tarnish that might otherwise take days or even weeks to work on. Just mix baking soda into your container of choice until it forms a paste-like consistency (you may need more than one tablespoon if you have several coins). Add your coins, then pour vinegar on top until you have enough liquid to cover them. After 15 minutes or so, remove from liquid with a slotted spoon or tongs, as usual, set somewhere to dry thoroughly before putting away, and be very careful not to wet the part where the date is when handling!

Use toothpaste

This works well for coins that have been cleaned with salt previously since it has abrasive particles that will help scrub against any remaining corrosion. Just mix some non-gel toothpaste into your container of choice until you form a paste-like consistency (you may need more than one tablespoon if you have several coins), put your coins in there, pour water on top until they are covered, let them sit for 15 minutes or so, then from liquid with a slotted spoon or tongs, as usual, set somewhere to dry thoroughly before putting away, and be very careful not to wet the part where the date is when handling!

Use baking soda & hydrogen peroxide

This works similarly to using plain baking soda (see above) but adds an extra boost of cleaning power thanks to hydrogen peroxide’s mild oxidizing properties. Just mix some 3% concentration hydrogen peroxide with baking soda until you have a paste-like consistency, put your coins in there, pour on enough liquid to cover them completely, let sit for 15 minutes or so, then go through the same steps as usual for removing from liquid with a slotted spoon or tongs, setting somewhere to dry thoroughly before putting away, and being very careful not to wet the part where the date is when handling!

Make a baking soda & salt paste

This works best on coins with some remaining elements of their original surfaces. Mix equivalent shares baking soda and table salt until you have a thick, dry paste, put your cash in there, then cover with just enough water to make it into a thick, wet paste (you may need more than one tablespoon if you have several coins). Let sit for 15 minutes or so, then remove from liquid with a slotted spoon or tongs, as usual, set somewhere to dry thoroughly before putting away, and be very careful not to wet the part where the date is when handling!

FAQs

  • Is Coin cleaning a lengthy process?

Cleaning your coins can take time – be patient!

  • How long coin remain clean after cleaning?

 Your choice of chemicals may affect how long your coins stay clean. If you use vinegar, don’t expect your coins to stay white very long.

  • Can I use household cleaner for cleaning my coins?

Never use household cleaners or chemicals on coins! We will only be using safe chemicals for coins – don’t worry about it being illegal!

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