How To Clean Coins - Coin in Water

Reasons to Clean Coins

One of the biggest reasons to clean your coins would be if you were just starting out in coin collecting and you’ve managed to get your hands on some circulated coins. First of all, congratulations and welcome to the club! You’re now officially part of the wonderful world of coin collecting.

While it’s great that you have some coins, circulated coins can be filthy and carry many germs, so it’s probably best that you clean them before adding them to your shiny new collection. But, there’s just one problem – how do you clean coins?

The question of how to clean coins has been one asked by many coin collectors over the years. Cleaning coins can be just as confusing as collecting them, but there are many benefits that come with it when done right.


In this article we’re going to discuss:

Warning : If you have old coins that you have either found or inherited, never clean them. People often share their experiences in regards to cleaning their old coins and as it turns out, many people end up erasing thousands of dollars of value by improperly cleaning their old coins. If you’re not sure of the type of coins you have, search Stackvestor’s coin collecting software in order to figure it out, and avoid any unfortunate situations.


How to Clean Coins

While cleaning coins is not recommended in general, there are two actions you can take if you feel like they must be cleaned.

  • Option 1 – Take your coins to a coin cleaning professional. If you get your coins cleaned professionally, you reduce the risk of losing a big part of the value of the coin, and you can have peace of mind that the job will be done right.
  • Option 2 – Clean your coins by yourself, but make sure you follow the correct guidelines on how to do so. You should never use acid dip or metal polish to clean your coins. When you use chemicals, it can cause reactions in the metal which can permanently damage your coin.

If you and your child decide to clean the coins together, safety should always be your main concern. No matter how big or small the cleaning task is, children must be supervised at all times as even a slip from soap on the floor can lead to an injury.


With all of that being said, let’s find out how to clean coins:


  • Step 1: Hold each coin by its edges and rinse them under running water. If you’re able to use distilled water, do it. Distilled water is your best bet as regular water is now treated with fluoride. This is able to cause a chemical reaction with some of your coins as they may have several metals inside when they are minted.
  • Step 2: Grab a bowl, put some vinegar, and lemon in there, and soak for around 1 minute.
  • Step 3: Make sure your distilled water is warm, and fully rinse your coins.
  • Step 4: Leave your coins out to dry naturally instead of drying them with a cloth.
  • Step 5: Once dry, check them. If they are still dirty, use a light brush for dirt that is caked on, then dry the coin with a lint-free cloth. Do not apply pressure when drying.
shiny stack of silver

How to Clean Silver Coins

Everything ages, right? It’s just a way of life. Well, just like everything else, silver coins can tarnish over time. While having tarnished silver coins doesn’t affect the quality of it, it can certainly impact the resale value due to cosmetic reasons. However, all hope is not lost! You are able to restore the shine of your silver coins by using many different techniques.

Wondering how to clean silver coins? The best way to clean silver coins is by using a simple method of baking soda, foil, and hot water. When you do this, you’ll be able to brighten up almost any tarnished silver. Bear in mind that not all of the tarnish can be removed, but most can if done right.


The Best Way to Clean Silver Coins


  • Step 1: The best way to clean silver coins is to first get some aluminum foil and a bowl or a container. Take your foil and wrap it all the way inside and around the bowl.
  • Step 2: Wondering how to clean coins with baking soda? Well, wonder no more because this step requires you to grab some baking soda and sprinkle some into the bowl.
  • Step 3: Add your tarnished silver coin into the middle of your bowl or container and make sure that the side that is most tarnished is facing up. You may need to do this twice if both sides are just as tarnished as each other.
  • Step 4: Add some more baking soda and make sure it’s covered enough to obscure your coin. Afterwards, pour hot water until it is completely covered. Then proceed to add more baking soda on top of your coin.
  • Step 5: Leave to soak for at least 5 minutes, this may vary depending on how tarnished your coin is.
  • Step 6: Grab some latex gloves and lightly scrub your coin with the water and baking soda mixture. Do not apply pressure when scrubbing as you may scratch it. As you scrub, be detailed and make sure to scrub all of the sides in order to remove as much tarnish as possible. Rinse in distilled water frequently so you’re able to see if there is still tarnish remaining. If so, re-apply the baking soda to the required areas.
  • Step 7: Rinse your silver coin with cold water. This will help in making sure that any remaining baking soda residue is removed. If this step is skipped, it can result in small white spots remaining on the silver from dried up baking soda.
  • Step 8: Take a good look at your coin when done, and make sure there are no marks from remaining tarnish or left-over baking soda. Now enjoy your brand spanking new silver coin!
1818 liberty toned

Why You Shouldn’t Clean Old Coins

In the United States, coin cleaning can be traced as far back as the mid-1800s. Half cents and large cents coins soon became extremely popular with collectors after having been discontinued in 1857 due to the rising costs of copper. Cleansers were used on the cents to try and make them mint red again.

At the beginning of this article, we mentioned that you should never clean old coins. Well, now you’re going to find out why.

It may seem like a good idea at first, but as an old coin is a very treasured item, cleaning it could reduce the value of your coin significantly. For millennia, gold and silver have been the metal of choice. As noble as it is, gold is non-reactive and does not corrode as a result.

However, as we mentioned, time eventually does take its toll on everything, even pure gold. Whether it’s being handled day-to-day or buried underground for safekeeping, an old coin will lose some of its lusters over time.

In almost all situations, old coins shouldn’t be cleaned. When a grader wants to determine the value of the coin, it’s condition does not include the cleanliness it. Serious collectors will always fully expect a patina to have developed, and most instead of being put off, will actually appreciate it’s appearance.

One of the biggest reasons as to why you shouldn’t clean old coins is that they can be easily damaged. Most coin cleaning products are abrasive and can possibly damage your prized possession. The physical act of scrubbing or polishing can also wear down the overall design, ultimately destroying one of the most important factors in deciding a coin’s grade.


To briefly summarize, if you’re a beginner and your coins don’t hold much value, or you have tarnished silver coins, then you can clean them very carefully by following the steps at the beginning of this article. Alternatively, as mentioned, you can also take them to a professional. However, if you have old coins do not by any means attempt to clean them.

If you’re unsure of what types of coins you hold in your collection, download Stackvestors Virtual Coin Vault. We offer people all over the United States a simplified coin collecting software solution with a library of over 30,000 coins. Join our team on their mission to bring coin collecting into the modern era by supporting our cutting edge technology and intuitive interfaces.