How to Clean Coins. Big Guide

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How to Clean Coins

Those who collect coins, no matter whether they are amateurs or professional numismatics, often face the necessity to have their metal money look proper to join the collection.

We will teach you how to clean old coins without devaluing them.

Should You Clean Old Coins At All?

Should You Clean Old Coins At All

Everyone who is curious about numismatics or is a professional collector himself asks this question.

Sometimes it happens that we find an old dusk coin somewhere in the attic or in a box with the useless stuff kept in the mezzanine for years.

And now what?! It is so dark, patined with dust and grime, that it is nearly impossible to identify it!

We bet most of you would say that one has to clean coins, nevertheless, everything is not so easy.

Cleaning coins, especially those that might be valuable for collecting, is a tricky thing. Aged metal money tends to form a patina, that dusk layer of tarnish that shows the item’s age and proves its value.

Professional collectors appreciate that touch of antiquity, that is why they normally leave the metal money as it is, dull and uncleaned. If patina is washed away, it can even reduce the coin’s price!

Nobody would like to cause damage to some precious and rare two hundred years old penny, right? Especially if it will cut its price twice as lower. At that point, remember that not all the aged metal money must be cleaned!

Now, let’s see what can be done to the metal money that is allowed to be cleaned

How to Clean Old Coins. Instruction In Details

How to Clean Old Coins
Photo by Hadis Malekie on Unsplash

If you are absolutely confident that the metal money you possess is not some rare exemplars and you strive to have it washed, go for this coin cleaning method suggested below.

  • Wash your hands  
  • Bathe the metal rounds in warm soapy water
  • Rinse the pieces of money under the open faucet
  • Remove them into the tank with distilled water
  • And dry them on a towel

Never use acids or metal polishes since they will damage the coin’s surface and cause corrosion!

How to Clean Coins For Collecting?

coin cleaning
Photo by Luke Peterson on Unsplash

The way we use to clean old coins to keep them valuable for collections is slightly different from what was described above.

  • Smear the pieces of money with vaseline working with a cotton swab.
  • Carefully dab the shiners with a lint-free fabric to free from the vaseline layer. Like this, all the dirt will be deleted safely.
  • Immerse the metal money into the 100% acetone for five seconds and rinse with distilled water instantly. It is crucial to do it immediately since acetone will give the shiners brownish shade which will decrease their price.
  • Don’t wipe the metal money!

For better maintenance, keep the valuable metal money in plastic holders that are air-tight to protect the coinage from any external impact.

How to Polish Coins?

How to Clean Coins For Collecting
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

To make coinage even shinier, there is a safe way that won’t damage the precious metal rounds!

Remember though that rubbing or any other similar sort of polishing is unsuitable, especially for valuable items, since it will damage the surface of the shiner and it will lose the value.

For safer treatment:

  • Take a tank deep enough to put a coin inside
  • Pour white vinegar (no more than 5% or acidic acid) over to cover the coin
  • Add one big spoon of pure baking soda and wait for 10 min. If necessary, repeat the procedure until the coin is shiny again
  • For extremely dirty items, try to gently rub them with the fingers covered with baking soda
  • Then rinse the shiner under a cold tap

And remember: don’t do this unless you’re absolutely sure that the coins are OK to clean and they won’t lose the value.

Cleaning Different Types Of Oil Coins

Another issue that coin collectors face is cleaning different kinds of coins. Silver and copper, more and less valuable – how do you treat them all?

Let’s see!

How to clean copper coins?

Mix together one spoon of salt and some white vinegar. Treat the shiners with this blend, rinse under warm running tap, and air-dry.

How to clean pennies?

For them, salt and vinegar blend will work pretty well, also, ketchup can become a great cleaner since it’s acidic. Submerging your metal money in cola is another option.

How to clean silver coins?

Submerge the shiner in vinegar for 60 sec, then keep it in the lemon juice for 5 min, rinse, then repeat it with the distilled water, and air-dry.

How to clean dimes?

Pick up any of the approaches suggested above (e.g. cola, salt with vinegar, soda with vinegar, etc.). 

Clean Coins At Home. Solutions And Methods

Cleaning Different Types Of Oil Coins
Photo by Anthony: Pexels

As you could see, there is plenty of different approaches and methods of taking care of the shiners. To structurize them, let’s summarize how to clean coins with household items.


  • Prepare a coin cleaner by mixing baking soda and white vinegar
  • Try to revive the metal money by applying salt and vinegar blend
  • Reanimate the metal money with ketchup or cola
  • Pure white vinegar will also help greatly if it’s applied for a very short period of time

Frequently Asked Questions

How to clean copper coins
Photo by Jeff Weese: Pexels

Cleaning coins for a home collection and preparing them for selling are different things that require different attitudes.

Check out what people ask mostly to ensure that you’re knowledgeable about any nuances.

How to clean coins safely?

Everything hangs upon the metal the shiner is made of. For really old and precious items any cleaning is prohibited since it’ll reduce their value. In other cases, use such means as baking soda, vinegar, and salt in different variations.

What can I use to clean coins?

One way is to buy a special cleaner for the metal money but if you don’t want to spend money on that, certain homemade means will work the same well (e.g. ketchup or cola!).

How to make coins shiny?

The best option is to bathe them in a baking soda and vinegar blend since any rubbing will ruin the surface.

How to clean rare coins?

We would recommend asking a professional, however, it is strongly prohibited to wash, polish or do any other actions of that kind to the rare or antique coins.

Written by
Olivia shares all she knows about the hotels, houses, and home cleaning with Beezzly readers. And she knows a lot! 15 years of work experience as a Manager in a former Four Season Service gave Olivia an exceptional base of professional knowledge and practical experience.
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