Antiques & Collectibles

How to Clean Old Coins Without Devaluing Them: 15 Methods

Why Collect Coins?

Collecting coins is a great activity. You can collect coins as a hobby or out of passion. Many people collect coins on a professional level. Aside from the pleasure of collecting different kinds of coins, collecting coins has great value.

Old coins generally have a higher value than new ones. But the problem with old coins is that they are often corroded or rusty. So there is a need to clean them. But, washing old coins is not as easy a task as it seems.

Washing coins without taking certain things into concern may make the coin lose its value. So, today I will tell you how to clean old coins without devaluing them.

Why Clean Old Coins?

Why do old coins have value? Of course, because they are old. They preserve different historical backgrounds also because coin collectors find old coins very attractive.

But sometimes you come across some old coins that are so badly corroded that you cannot even see the surface of the coin. As a result, you cannot determine the value of the coin. That is when you are in need to clean those coins. But you also have to be careful not to hamper their value.

Here we will show you the methods of cleaning an old coin while still keeping its authenticity.


15 Methods of How to clean old coins without devaluing them

How to polish old coins? People who collect coins use a lot of different methods to clean their coins. But most of them damage their coins because they do not know how to clean old coins without devaluing them. You can find the best metal detectors for Coins, Relics and Jewelry Hunting here and buy here.

So, we need to know the proper methods and steps that will help you to clean the coins properly. In this article, let’s talk about some most used methods to clean up old coins.

Cautions for cleaning valuable coins!

For valuable old coins, it is always better to consult with a professional coin grading service before you begin to clean your valuable coins. If you have doubts about the coin’s value, a good coin grading service will enlighten you about that particular coin. It will help you to make the decision whether you should clean the coin or not.

Method-1: Warm water with dishwashing soap

This first method that we will use is for coins that have a little corrosion or a little dirt attached to it. We will be using materials that can be easily found in our house. The steps are easy to follow and effortless.

Step-1: Take warm water from your sink or kitchen. Wash the coin in warm water. This will remove the dirt held with it. Put a little pressure on your fingers but not too hard to clean them. Do the same for both sides of the coin. Then put the coin on a towel to dry out the excess water. Clean each coin separately in this process. Coins made of nickel and silver will be easily cleaned; however, coins made out of copper will be harder to clean as copper reacts to more materials than other metals.

Step-2: Mix dish soap with water in a bowl. Put the coin in the bowl and slowly rub the coin with your finger from both sides. The dish soap will help to get rid of any extra dirt held by the coin. Repeat the same process for each coin individually. For any particular dirty coin, you can soak it in the water and dish soap mixture for a better outcome.

Step-3: To remove any extra dirt, use a brush and slowly brush the coin while keeping it in water. You can also use water and soap mixture in this process. Be cautious that this process might leave small scratches all over the surface of the coin which may decrease the value of the coin. To avoid this problem and keep the scratches to a minimum, keep rinsing the coin in the water while brushing.

Step-4: After washing the coins, dry them off using a soft cotton towel. Use the towel and dry the coin by tapping it constantly. Avoid wiping the coin with the towel as it may cause micro-scratches on the coin. Be careful that the coin is free of any moisture. This will make the coin clean and ready to be stored.

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Method-2: Isopropyl alcohol & plain salt

In this method, we will be using a coin bath using chemicals. This method will help with the coins which are deeply corroded, and the first method did not work properly on them. Some coins may contain hard dirt that is almost impossible to remove with only water and soap. That is where this method will help you to clean the coins without damaging them or making them lose their value.

Step-1: First you have to make a coin bath where you will soak the coins that have more corrosion, and that build up more dirt on its body than the others. To make a coin bath, you have to gather two important things. You will have to collect isopropyl alcohol firstly. Isopropyl alcohol is also known as rubbing alcohol or surgical spirit. You can find rubbing alcohol in any pharmacy close to your home or neighborhood. The second thing you will need to make a coin bath is salt. Yes! Just plain salt. You can buy salt from the nearest convenience store.

To make a coin bath, take a cup full of isopropyl alcohol. Then put two tablespoons of salt into the bowl full of isopropyl alcohol. Now stir the slat with the isopropyl alcohol for a minute. Make sure that the solution is mixed properly. This chemical solution is acidic which will clean most of the built-up dirt on your old coins.

Now soak the coins in the mixture. Keep the coin in the mixture for two hours to a week. This time period will depend on how dirty your coin is.

Isopropyl alcohol is a universal solvent that will dissolve most of the dirt which doesn’t dissolve in regular water. But be careful that isopropyl alcohol is extremely flammable and keep it in a safe place.

Step-2: For this step, you will need distilled water. Distilled water is one kind of purified water that has been boiled into vapor and condensed back to a liquid so that it is separated from impurities. You can also find distilled water at the pharmacy or supermarket near to you.

After you finish soaking the coins in the salt and rubbing alcohol mixture solution, take the coins and rinse them with the distilled water as distilled water will ensure that any chemical that is left with the coin is rinsed and washed off.

Step-3: Take a clean towel for this step. Gently rub the coins on the surface of the towel. This will remove the extra dirt that didn’t wash away with the distilled water. Repeat this process for each coin individually. Also, rub both sides of the coin with the towel. After that, put the coins over the towel to dry off any extra moisture. Don’t stack the coins right after you dry them to ensure that they have been dried properly. Be cautious that moisture can damage your coins over time. So be sure that the coins are completely dry before stored.

Method-3: Vaseline and cotton bud

We will use this method to remove any unwanted dust from the coins. We will use Vaseline for this process.

Take a cotton bud and put a thin layer of Vaseline on it. Now lightly dab the cotton bud over the coin where you want to remove the dust. You can also use a soft non-synthetic brush instead of cotton buds. Do not put excessive Vaseline on the coin.

Also, it is better to use a magnifying glass while executing this process. It is best to apply the thinnest layer of Vaseline possible. The Vaseline will take the dust with it and make the coin clean.

Method-4: Nail polish remover

This method is risky and used for the extreme dirt removal. In this method, we will use an acetone bath to dissolve the dirt from the coins. You can buy acetone in the local hardware store. You can use Nail polish remover as mild acetone.

Take a little acetone in a bowl. Put the coins individually in the acetone. Keep the coin in the acetone only for 5 seconds. Then quickly pull the coins out. If you leave acetone on your coins, it will add brownish haze to their body. It may reduce the value of old coins significantly. So be careful not to leave any acetone on the coin. Acetone is a solvent, not an acid. So it will not damage the coin. But be sure not to rub the coins with acetone on it. It may damage the structure of the coins.

Be careful that acetone is flammable and corrosive. It is better to use a glove in this process. It is also better to use 100% acetone source as other sources may contain other chemicals that may destroy the coins and devalue them.

Read also: Are metal detectors safe?

Method-5: Vinegar

Vinegar is one of the good household chemicals that clean old coins very easily. Vinegar is a very easy-to-find household chemical, which is available almost in every home. Somebody may think, will vinegar clean old coins? Yes, as a light chemical vinegar can be used to clean grimy coins and collectible coins.

how to clean old coins with vinegar make them shine? The process is just simple as that. Just have a cup of water and mix a few drops (8-10 drops) of vinegar with the water, then mix it well. After that soak the grimy old coins. Soak them for approximately 20 to 30 minutes, the acetic acid will dissolve the coin’s dirt. Then rub gently the coins with your fingers and when the dirt is removed out, wash the coin with distilled water. And finally, dry out the coins with a clean towel or cotton cloth.

It’s an advantage that you can clean your gold coins with vinegar, it will not harm or devalue your gold coins.

Method-6: Hydrogen peroxide

how to clean old coins with hydrogen peroxide? Hydrogen peroxide is a green chemical by which we can clean old coins and improve their condition. For which type of coin hydrogen peroxide is best to clean? Hydrogen peroxide can clean different types of metal coins like silver, bronze, copper, steel, etc.

To clean pennies or coins with hydrogen peroxide which are dirty, get a cup or bowl. Put the coins in the bowl and pour the chemical (hydrogen peroxide) and leave it for 24 hours. After that wash the coins with normal running water and dry the coins. The coins will be cleaned as new.

Method-7: Coke (Coca-cola)

Some people have experimented cleaning old coins with coke and they got a better result. To clean old grimy coins with coke, take a plastic container and pour coke and water into it on 70:30 ratio.

Then soak the coins in the solution for 24 hours. After 24 hours wash the coins with distilled water and dry them. Coke is one of the eco-friendly cleansers like lemon juice or vinegar.

Method-8: Bleaching powder

Cleaning old coins with bleaching powder is also possible. For that, you will need a brush like a toothbrush. Make a mixture of bleaching powder with water in a 50:50 ratio. Soak the old coins in the mixture just not more than 2-3 minutes and cover the bowl with a lid where you have soaked the coins.

After that take back the coins from the liquid mixture and rub them with the brush a bit. Then quickly wash with distilled water and dry.

Method-9: Olive Oil

Cleaning old coins with olive oil is a popular method. Many people want to know how to use olive oil to clean old coins? Is it possible to clean old coins with olive oil? Olive oil is not a perfect agent for cleaning coins. If you soak the old coins in olive oil for a decent time, it will lose debris a bit but not completely.

Even you can apply a light brushing on the soaked coins, it will dissolve some more debris but not all. So, olive oil is not a better option for silver, copper, bronze or even gold.

Method-10: Baking Soda

Baking soda is a good agent for cleaning old coins. So, how to clean old coins with baking soda? To clean old coins with baking soda, you have to follow these instructions:

– Firstly, wash the coins with some distilled water which is warm
– Secondly, dry the washed coins with a soft dry cloth or towel
– After that prepare a baking soda paste with water and apply it on each and every coins
– After 3-5 minutes get the coins rinsed off.

Method-11: Toothpaste

Have you heard the question, can I clean my old coins with toothpaste? The question is something strange, but this is a good old coin cleanser. The cleaning procedure is the same as baking soda. Here no need to prepare the paste, because you already have the paste.

Just apply the paste to the coins and keep them for 15-20 minutes. After that rinse them off with warm water and dray. Hope it will clean your dirty coins awesomely.

Method-12: ICE/ Freeze

Could you clean old silver coins with ice? Freezing old coins to clean them is a good way, which you can do at home. For those who never tried this method is really amazing. This method works great for silver coins which are covered with mud. You will need a few ice cubes, a clean piece of cotton cloth. Grab an ice cube with the cloth and rub dirty coins one by one.

If the coins are filthy enough, need to soak them in water for 10 to 15 minutes then try rubbing. The coins will be cleaned perfectly.

Method-13: Ketchup

Tomato ketchup also can be a good agent for old coins cleaning. It’s a simple solution and It works like soapy water.

Just get the coins and apply a small amount of ketchup on both sides of the coins and leave them for around half an hour. For better results, you can leave them for an hour. Then take a soft bristle brush and rub the coins gently. All dirt will be cleaned. When rubbing is finished, just wash the coins with clean warm water and the job is done.

Method-14: Mineral oil

Cleaning old coins with mineral oil is not an effective way to get the coins cleaned perfectly.

Soaking the dirty coins in mineral oil does almost nothing. Mineral oil just acts as a lubricant. After well-time soaking the coins when you rub them with a q-tip or cotton bud, no hairlines are created practically. On the other hand, olive oil especially virgin olive oil cleans ancients in a better way because it’s slightly acidic.

Method-15: Lemon juice

Cleaning old coins with lemon juice is a very old and effective method tested by many coin collectors. Here is the procedure:

– Get your coins in a bowl that you want to clean.
– Pour lemon juice into the coins bowl. Make sure the coins are soaked well.
– Keep them soaking for around 30 minutes.
– After 30 minutes pour off the lemon juice and get the coin washed with warm water and dry, that’s it.

Read also: 7 Best Metal Detector for Coins, Relics and Jewelry Hunting

How to clean different kinds of old metal coins safely?

Nickel coins

How to clean old nickels coins? Seems you have some old nickel coins and you need to clean them. To get your nickel coins cleaned you can use a nickel coin cleaning solution which is available in any hardware store. The solution can be made at home also. It requires some vinegar and baking soda; mix both with water and make a very liquid paste from them. Now soak all coins in the mixture and leave for about 15 minutes. After that rub coins with a brush like a toothbrush and rinse them with warm water. Finally, make the coins dry.

Silver coins

What is the best way to clean old silver coins? The best way to clean old silver coins is to use a dishwashing detergent and a toothbrush. Take some water and mix one tablespoon of detergent and stir them well. Then soak silver coins for 4-5 minutes in the solution and then rub coins with the toothbrush. Finally wash coins with warm water and get them dry.

Iron coins

How to clean old iron coins? Generally, iron coins are not made from pure iron often. They are basically built from various sorts of metal including iron. So, the best procedure of cleaning iron coins is with a solution of ammonia and warm water. Just soak your iron coins in the solution for around 2 hours and then get them rubbed weel with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Lastly rinse coins with normal temperature water and get them dried.

Steel coins

How to clean old steel coins? You can clean old steel coins in many ways. But the best way is to clean with a steel wool pad. Firstly get the steel wool pad hot by putting it in the boiling water for 10 minutes. Start rubbing the steel coins with the wool pad till the rust gets removed out. You can try a silver polish also.

Bronze coins

How to clean old bronze coins? Mostly for train ticket payments in Europe uses bronze coins. It’s kind of ancient coin. The best way of cleaning old bronze coins is to use vinegar and salt. To make the cleaning solution you need a medium-size bowl with lukewarm water. Just mix 1/4 cup of vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir the solution well and soak the bronze coins for approximately 15 minutes. And then rub them with fingers or a soft-bristled toothbrush. When rusts are removed, just get them dried.

Copper coins

How to clean old copper coins without devaluing them? As valuable coins, Copper coins must be handled with care to avoid devaluing them. The best way of cleaning copper coins is distilled water with gentle soap. You can use a soft toothbrush for scrubbing the coin’s rust and grime. Dry well after cleaning the copper coins.

Gold Coins

What is the best way to clean old gold coins? As precious metal gold coins should be cleaned without devaluing them. For the best result, get any good dishwashing soap and a dishwashing sponge. Just soak the gold coins in the soap water for a few minutes and then rub gently till the rust removes. When done, rinse the gold coins with lukewarm water and dry them with a soft cotton cloth.

Aluminum coins

The best way of cleaning aluminum coins, get a one-liter dish of boiled water and make the washing solution by mixing 2 tablespoons of normal salt. Get your aluminum coins soaked in the solution for 10 minutes. When the water gets cooled, get back the coins and wash them with distilled water and get them dried.

Brass coins

How to clean old brass coins? To get the best result for very dirty brass coins which are encrusted with verdigris, use a bowl of warm water, mix a tablespoon of regular detergent and soak brass coins for 60 minutes. Then scrub them with a toothbrush and get them cleaned.

Corroded coins

How to clean old corroded coins? In most cases, corroded coins are very tough to clean. The perfect way to clean corroded coins is with water and an abrasive sponge. Soak the corroded coins in the normal clean water for a few hours and then start rubbing with an abrasive sponge gently. If your luck favors, you can get back your coins. Because by over scrubbing sometimes coins get spoiled.

Fire impacted coin

How to professionally clean fire impacted old coins without devaluing them? Cleaning old tarnished coins is not an easy task. It requires a lot of patience, knowledge, and experience. Never apply an acid bath to fire impacted coins, it can cause your valuable coins damaged. The best way for cleaning fire impacted or fire damaged coins is to use hot water with washing soda.

Get a glass bowl of hot water and 4-5 square inch aluminum foil paper. Place the foil paper on the bottom of the glass dish as flatten. Then put your fire-damaged coins inside the glass bowl (on the foil paper). Now mix 4-5 teaspoons of washing soda in the hot water and gently mix it with the water. Make sure that coin won’t get touched when mixing soda with water. Let them soak till the water temperature is reduced to room temperature. After that pour off the water and get the coin on a soft & dried cotton cloth. Let them get dried and then wash the coins with normal water.

Sticky old coins

If you have some sticky coins, you can clean them by following this method. The safe way to clean sticky old coins is – firstly rub the sticky coins with a paper towel well and then get them well-scrubbed with a piece of wet cotton cloth. ?It will clean them. Still, if you are not satisfied, just wash them with liquid handwash and get them dried.

Rusty coins

How to clean old rusty coins? The best way of cleaning rusty coins is vinegar and water. Follow the above discussed 5th method of coin cleaning and get your rusty coins cleaned.


Cleaning methods of a few special coins

English coins

What is the best method to clean old English coins? The best method to clean old English coins would be to use water and mild dish soap. For better results, you can use 1 liter of warm water with one tablespoon of mild dishwashing soap. Soak your coins in the soap water for 6 to 12 hours and get them washed with normal water. After that dry them with a cotton towel.

Roman coins

How to clean old roman coins? One of the best methods of cleaning roman coins is with the use of toothpaste or baking soda. You can follow the above-discussed method-10 and method-11 to get your roman coins cleaned.

Indian head penny

How to clean old Indian head penny coins to reveal date? The best way to clean Indian head penny to find the date is to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and mild toothpaste. It will make your coin clean and shiny.

Chinese coins

The best way to clean old Chinese coins is saltwater. You have to make the solution with warm water and salt. Mix 1-2 tablespoons of salt in a liter of warm water and then soak the coins in the water 12 hours approx. It will dissolve all dirt off the Chinese coins.

Japanese coins

How to clean old Japanese coins? Japanese coins are made from Nickel-brass. The best way to clean nickel-brass coins is to use an iron coin cleaning solution. To prepare an iron coin clean solution you need Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) and Ammonium Persulfate (NH4)2S04. Mix both chemicals at a 50:50 ratio. Get a glass jar with a lid and firstly pour hydrogen peroxide and then add ammonium persulfate, when you see the solution got brownish-red, the solution is ready to soak your coins and leave them for 24 hours or less. Then rinse coins with warm water and dry with soft cotton cloths.

Greek coins

How to clean old greek coins? Greek coins are made of metal like bronze or silver. The best way of cleaning greek bronze coins with vinegar and salt; and greek silver coins with dishwashing detergent. Please check above for cleaning methods for bronze and silver coins.

Canadian coins

How to clean old Canadian coins? The best way to clean Canadian coins is with mild dishwashing liquid soap and a soft-bristled brush. For detailed instructions, please check the above-discussed Method-1.


How to Store Cleaned Coins Properly

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After you have successfully cleaned your valuable coins, the most important task comes after. The task is how to store the coins properly so that they don’t get corroded or dirty again. Here are some steps for properly storing old coins:

1. Store the coins at room temperature. Avoid extreme cold or warm temperatures.

2. Do not store coins in high places from where they might fall over.

3. Use acid-free plastic holders to store coins. B0BXX5RKLG

4. Store the coins in hard plastic holdersHard plastics are sturdy and protect the coins better in any environment.

5. Make the containers airtight.

6. Remove any kind of moisture from the container.

7. Do not use paper to store coins as paper contains Sulphur which turns the coins black.

8. Do not put the coins with any other metal materials as they will help to corrode the coins more quickly than natural.

Read also: Can gold be detected by a metal detector?


How to locate old coins using a metal detector in your own neighborhood

People lose coins all the time all over different places. So you can be sure that lost coins are scattered all over your neighborhood. If you try hard enough, you can surely find a variety of coins every day, and if you are lucky enough, you may find old coins with good value from time to time.

But to do this job, first of all, you will need to possess and have good knowledge about a metal detector. Millions of coins are discovered using a metal detector almost every day. If you equip yourself with a good metal detector, all you have to do is find a suitable spot for coin hunting.

There are different types of metal that you can find in the market. There are also metal detectors specifically designed for hunting coins which will give you a signal as soon as they can detect a coin. But general models of metal detectors will also work in this field.

Hunting coins will be easier if some specific features are built into your metal detector. The most important feature is target identification which will allow you to determine what the target object is before you start to dig it up.

Some metal detectors have an LCD display on them which will show whether the target is iron, a nickel, dime, quarter, metal cap, or something else. The audio signal can also give you an idea about the detected object.

Different types of objects have different types of signal frequencies. For example, iron nails tend to give a lower frequency sound signal, whereas coins tend to give a higher frequency sound signal.

Most of the metal detector units have a function of discrimination which will allow you to weed out the unneeded trash metals. A depth indicator will tell you how deep the target object is in the ground.

If you keep these features in mind, you will surely be able to hunt coins better than any other new coin hunter.



How do you clean old coins that have been in saltwater?

Ans: You can use baking soda and water to clean saltwater coins. In some cases, table salt and water are also enough.

How to clean green off old coins?

Ans: Make a solution with one-fourth cup of white vinegar and one teaspoon of table salt, which is enough for 20 to 24 coins.

How to clean an old coin found in mud but has rust on it?

Ans: Ice cubes will be enough for these coins. If rusts are more, you can use vinegar to clean them with a brush.

Can I clean my old English coins?

Ans: Yes, you can. We have discussed it above.

Can you use a jeweler’s cloth to clean old coins?

Ans: In most cases, jeweler’s cloth does not clean coins.

What is safe to use to clean old silver coins?

Ans: Dishwashing detergent.

How to clean very old coins?

Ans: Depends on how old it is and what is the current condition of this coin. Check above coin cleaning methods.

How to clean old steel coins

Ans: You can clean steel coins with a steel wool pad.

How to clean up old coins buried?

Ans: You can clean buried coins with vinegar, salt, and lemon juice. Soak buried coins in the mixture for 30 to 60 mins and then get cleaned the coins with normal water.

What is the best way to clean corrosion from old coins?

Ans: Baking soda.

Can I clean old coins with phosphoric acid/lime and scale remover?

Ans: Yes.

Can I clean old coins with only phosphoric acid and alkoxylated linear alcohol?

Ans: Yes, you can.

How to clean old oxidized coins?

Ans: You can clean old oxidized coins with white vinegar.

How do you clean old wheat coins?

Ans: Use dish soap and warm water.

Should you clean old coins with Brasso?

Ans: You can use Brasso to clean sticky dirt like grease and simple dirt on the coins.

What is a recommended safe way to clean old coins?

Ans: Recommended safe ways to clean old coins are discussed above in this article, just choose the method that is perfect for your coins.




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