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Cleaning Coins Safely With Household Products

Reviewed by Professional Cleaner Jennifer L. Betts
cleaning metal coin

While you can purchase commercial coin cleaner, there is really no reason to buy a specialized product just to restore shine to your loose change. You can quickly and easily clean coins using household products that you probably already have on hand. Just keep in mind that it's not advisable to clean old or rare coins that could be valuable.

How to Clean Dirty Coins in Soap and Water

The easiest way to safely clean coins safely using basic household products is simply to use water and liquid dish soap.

Ingredients

All you'll need is:

  • Dish soap (just a few squeezes)
  • Water (around one cup)

Instructions

Follow these steps:

  1. Mix a squeeze or two of gentle dish soap with about a cup of water in a small bowl, stirring well to combine.
  2. Place the coins that you'd like to clean in the soapy water.
  3. Pick up the coins individually and rub between your thumb and another finger so that the dirt loosens a bit.
  4. If needed, use an old toothbrush to gently scrub the surface of the coin.
  5. Blot the coin on a dishcloth to remove excess water.
  6. Set aside on another dish cloth or folded paper towel to dry.
  7. Repeat with the remaining coins.

How to Clean Silver Coins With Baking Soda

After cleaning your silver coins using soap and water, you may find that they're still not shiny. Clean them further using a solution of baking soda and water to make them shine.

Ingredients

All you'll need is:

  • 1 - 2 tablespoons of baking soda
  • Small amount of water

Instructions

Follow these steps:

  1. Place a tablespoon or two of baking soda into a container.
  2. Add enough water to it to make a paste.
  3. Place the coin in the baking soda and water solution.
  4. Spread the solution over both sides of the coin with your fingers.
  5. Rub your fingers back and forth over both sides of the coin.
  6. Dip in water to remove the baking soda.
  7. Blot the coin on a dish cloth to remove excess water.
  8. Set aside on another dish cloth or folded paper towel to dry.
  9. Repeat with the rest of the coins that you'd like to shine.

Using Juice to Clean Pennies Fast

Because pennies are either made of or coated in copper (depending on their age), you can quickly clean them using certain kinds of juice. The types of juice used to clean pennies include pickle juice and the juice of fruits that are high in citric acid, such as lemons and limes.

Does Cleaning Old Coins Reduce Their Value?

If the coins you are thinking about cleaning are older or collectible ones that may be valuable, it's best not to clean them at all. While this may seem counterintuitive, the fact is that cleaning rare coins can actually damage them. As CoinWeek points out, the idea that coins that have been cleaned might be more valuable than ones that have not been cleaned, this is not the case. Cleaning can cause irreparable damage to the surface of coins, thus reducing the value of a coin that might otherwise have been worth quite a bit of money to a collector. If you have old coins that you're interested in selling, take them to a coin expert for evaluation without first cleaning them.

Coin Cleaning Choices

If you decide to move ahead with cleaning your coins, you'll find that it's an easy task. Start with the soap and water method, then use one of the other options if needed.

Cleaning Coins Safely With Household Products