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Cleaning Coins

Category Miscellaneous
Coins can get grimy over time, changing hands year after year. Coins that are found on the ground are even dirtier and may require cleaning before adding them to your change purse.
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My best friend always looks down at the ground when we go for walks because he is really quite lucky finding huge amounts of change in sidewalk crevices and dirt patches. He finds several dollars per week! Unfortunately, these coins are often very corroded and almost unrecognizable.

We read an article about how you can drop them into vinegar and salt baths, and then rub baking soda on to each of them individually to clean them. Sounded time consuming. We tried just putting them in a bath of vinegar, salt and baking soda, then did a bit of scrubbing and wiped them off. Beautiful, shiny, just like new.

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  1. In a large container, mix together 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/2 cup water, 1 tablespoon baking soda, and 1 tablespoon salt.

  2. Drop in your coins and allow to sit for several hours.

  3. Remove coins and scrub with an old toothbrush.

  4. Wipe with a microfibre cloth.

Editor's Note: This process is fine for modern coins but older coins can be damaged by cleaning and it could affect the value. Be sure to have older coins appraised first.


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Questions

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February 1, 2011

I have some old copper penny coins. What is the best way of cleaning them? Some are really dirty being from the Victorian era.

By steve from Liverpool, England

Answers

February 1, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

I don't know if it's the same for coins as other antiques, but I know that there are times when you don't want to clean an antique item too much. Some of the value is in the patina. You might want to call around to coin dealers in your area and ask.

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If you're still wanting to clean the copper coins, the first two techniques that come to mind are 1)using a lemon (cut in half) and salt to scour, or 2)using catsup and salt. If you do a quick internet search, I'm sure that there are other recipes using household items.

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February 2, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

If you really want to clean them, soak them in coca cola for about 30mins, depending on how dirty they are, if really dirty, you may have to leave them longer. They will come up new looking and sparkling! So you can imagine what coke does to your insides if it can actually clean copper coins!

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I have a coin that is tarnished and I would like it to be shiny again. I am not worried about it's value as a collectors item or anything. It's just regular old 50 cent piece that I would like to clean up.

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By Jess from Hillsboro, OR

Answers

May 18, 20110 found this helpful

Baking soda moistened and a soft cloth. Or use purchased tarnish clean from the store.

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May 19, 20110 found this helpful

1) MAAZ Metal Polishing Creme

Nickel plating is cheap and therefore tarnishes very easily. There are several different methods to choose from when looking to clean and polish nickel plating or nickel-plated finishes.

First, try soaking the nickel plating overnight in a water and vinegar mixture or solution (Create a water and vinegar solution that is in the following ratio: 4:1, this means, for every one part vinegar, you add four parts water. Example: One cup of vinegar and four cups of water)

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Second, pick-up oven cleaner and a soft cloth and spray a little of the oven cleaner on your nickel plated finish.

Third, WD40 and steel wool works great if there is just a little tarnish (or green color) showing on your nickel plating.

Four, pick up nickel polish and use the nickel polish to shine your item. Nickel polish often comes in a can with cotton wads. The cotton is used as the cleaning material along with the nickel polish.

Five, take a ride to the grocery store and pick up pure household ammonia (not a mix or a house hold cleaner, you need pure ammonia). Immerse the nickel plating or nickel-plated item directly into the ammonia (do not dilute the ammonia). Let item sit for no more than five (5) minutes. Any longer may cause damage to your nickel plated item.

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May 19, 20110 found this helpful

Try soaking the coin in ketchup for a few minutes then clean with soft cloth, repeat process until desired shine is reached.

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May 19, 20110 found this helpful

Depending on the coin's silver content, there are several ways of cleaning it. If it has any silver in it at all, I'd just stick to tooth paste...not the gel, and an old toothbrush. If it doesn't contain silver, but you just want to make it shiny enough for the "tooth fairy" for instance, then just use any of the methods mentioned.

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I'd be careful handling any product made to clean ovens though. Some can be harmful to your hands if you're not wearing good rubber gloves.

Just plain old apple cider vinegar and baking soda paste works very well too.

Good Luck.

Pookarina

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May 19, 20110 found this helpful

I was also going to suggest toothpaste (not the gel type).

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May 19, 20110 found this helpful

Go over the coin with an eraser and then cover with ketchup for a few hours, you will definitely be surprised.

This will clean the coin but doing so will take away any real value if you are considering selling it at a later time.

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May 20, 20110 found this helpful

I agree with Deeli. Toothpaste should get it clean. I use it to clean my jewelry, also.

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May 20, 20110 found this helpful

Even if you don't care that much about its value, toothpaste might be a little too abrasive & wear down the engraving. The best thing is Hagerty's silver polish, a dab on a soft moist cloth, then rinse in plain water. If it is silver, it will tarnish again, unless you have it coated with something that retards tarnish. This is why you don't want to use something abrasive - after years of polishing it, an abrasive will wear the engraving down. I learned this from my father who had a valuable, old coin collection.

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May 20, 20110 found this helpful

Just plain old ketchup will do the trick nicely.

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Archives

ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

February 20, 2007

How do you clean a silver chain? I have been told that vinegar can get it clean.

Tina from BC, Canada

Answers:

Coins

Here's a way to clean silver rope and badly corroded silver coins.

For coins: Wet the coin with water and rub it with regular aluminum cooking foil. You can leave the background dark to highlight the detail of the coin. Metal detectorists who find medieval period coins in the UK use this method. I use it when cleaning shipwreck silver coins. To clean silver rope chain or to thoroughly clean silver coins, put them into an ordinary rock tumbler with water and balls of aluminum foil (the drum should be half full). Only do one coin at a time. It usually takes only a few hours to clean the worst coins and rope. You should check your item once every hour to make sure you don't overdo it. If you don't have a rock tumbler you could try a plastic bottle with tight lid and simply hand shack it using the foil balls and water as stated above.

Note: Only coins that are severally corroded due to be buried on land or sea should be cleaned. These require cleaning only to make the detail visible. Many silver coins have added value because of discoloration so don't remove it! Take your valuable or heirloom silver rope to a professional for cleaning. I hope this helps someone. (01/13/2006)

By Dale

Vinegar

I just cleaned two silver chains the other day by soaking them in vinegar. Worked great. I let them soak for few hours then rubbed them with jewelry cloth. (01/13/2006)

By Christi

Baking Soda and Tin Foil

You will need:

In the glass bowl, lay in the foil shiny side up (this is also the side that wont stick to food when frozen or cooked.)

Lay in the piece of jewelry, sprinkle in a very generous amount of Soda.
Pour over the boiling water, note ~ here 2 things will happen, 1 it will foam & 2 you may smell something (Reminds me of copper, or dirty pennys.) It is cleaning all the body grease & grim off the jewelry.
The method used for the gold is the same, however OMIT the foil.

Note: It may take more than one cleaning. After I do this once, I take the jewelry out and paste baking soda on it and rub with an old toothbrush. Then I repeat the above steps until it is as clean as I want it. (01/14/2006)

By Paula in GA

Olive Oil for Coins

My hubby who is a coin collector uses olive oil and a soft cloth to polish coins. He swears by it, and it does not harm the coin. (01/14/2006)

By Shirley

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