How to Clean Coins

Views 1 Like Comments Comment
Like if this guide is helpful
How to Clean Coins

Cleaning coins is a simple process and will restore coins to a shiny and beautiful state. Cleaning coins also removes any dirt, germs, or bacteria which may have built up over time. From making jewelry to removing gum or adhesives; there are a lot of reasons to clean coins. However, it's best to be careful, as old or collectible coins will almost always be more valuable uncleaned.

When cleaning coins, make sure to use gentle products and techniques. With the right process, it's simple to give coins the perfect luster without damaging their surface. Clean coins will look better, be more hygienic, and will shine brightly for jewelry or display. While the basic supplies needed to clean coins are common household items, the right accessories can make all the difference. A coin price guide will let you know which coins are valuable and should not be cleaned, and the right albums and folders will store and display coins safely. These and other coin cleaning and protecting supplies are easy to find on eBay.

When to Clean Coins

When people find (or are given) a collection of old coins, their first instinct is to clean them. In some instances, this can be considered a mistake. Cleaning fragile coins can cause scratches or damage, and will never improve the value of a coin. Cleaning also removes the valuable patina formed by oxidation, known as toning. This can lower the value of coins considerably. Before cleaning any coin, look it up in a coin price guide to ensure it is not collectible. If you are unsure if an old coin in valuable, check with a coin dealer before cleaning.

Coins used for jewelry, non-collectible coins, and circulated coins can all be cleaned to improve their luster and hygiene. When cleaning any coin, avoid harsh abrasives or household cleaners, as these can damage any coin.

Uncirculated, Proof, and Copper Alloy Coins

There is no safe way to clean high grade uncirculated, proof, or copper alloy coins at home. These valuable coins should not be handled, and left in their original condition. If you simply must clean uncirculated or proof coins, it is best to consult a professional.

Cleaning Coins

Following a few simple steps will keep your coins in great condition and improve luster, without causing scratches or damage. Remember that this process is only for coins which are not collectible or valuable, as those coins should be left uncleaned. Treat every coin gently, as rushing or rough handling can damage fragile coins.

Coin Washing Supplies

Washing coins is a simple process that uses common household items. All you need is a small plastic tub, such as a Tupperware container, liquid dish soap, running water, a soft cotton towel, and distilled water. The soaking process can take some time, but the steps are simple and easy to follow.

Coin Washing Steps

Follow these steps to clean and restore shine to coins used to make jewelry, circulated coins, and any non-rare or non-collectible coins. Individuals cleaning coins should first wash their hands with soap, and rinse thoroughly. This will remove any oils and grit from the skin, protecting coins from scratches and fingerprints. Coins should be handled by their edges during, and after cleaning.

Rinse the Coins Under Warm Water

The first step in washing coins is to rinse them with water. Hold coins by their edges under a stream of warm water, preferably for a few minutes. A higher pressure will make cleaning easier. This rinse should remove most of the loose dirt from a coin.

Soak the Coins with Soap or Vinegar

After rinsing, fill a plastic tub with warm water and a small amount of liquid dish soap. Put your coins into the tub, one type of metal per tub, agitate gently, and let them soak. Coins can be soaked for anywhere between two hours and two weeks, depending on the severity of the build up. Check the coins after a short time to determine if they need a longer soak. Be careful not to mix metals; each type of coin should be soaked in a separate tub to avoid discoloration. For tough stains on silver, copper, and nickel-clad coins, a quick soak in white vinegar can aid in cleaning.

Gently Scrub the Coins

After soaking, rinse the coins in running water. Many coins should come out of the soak clean, requiring only a rinse. For coins with any dirt or deposits remaining, gently scrub the coins under running water with a soft toothbrush. Use a toothbrush marked soft or extra-soft only. Work from the inside out, being careful not to rub any dirt into the coin. Use gentle pressure, and only scrub the soiled parts of the coin.

Rinse and Let Dry

After washing, rinse the coins in distilled water, which lacks any minerals or chemicals which can discolor coins or leave deposits. Hold the coins by their edges to avoid leaving fingerprints. Allow coins to air dry on a soft cotton towel, or pat dry gently. Do not rub the coins to dry them, as this can cause scratches. Before storing coins, make sure they are completely dry, as any remaining moisture can cause damage over time.


If you are saving or collecting coins, it is important to store them properly. Common materials like paper, cardboard, and some plastics can damage coins, so using the right storage options is paramount. Using acid-free folders and albums will protect coins from acid damage, as will acid-free envelopes. Plastic envelopes, called flips, are a great way to store coins and leave them visible. Make sure to use PVC-free plastic, as PVC can discolor or damage coins over time.

Commercial Cleaners and Polish

Commercial coin cleaners and polish, or a home substitute like toothpaste, can be used to polish non-valuable coins. Most metal polishes and cleaners are acid-based, and work by removing a layer from the coin, which may diminish details and remove small amounts of precious metal. Therefore, their use is not recommended for collectible, old, or rare coins. However, for making jewelry or other applications where shine is more important than integrity, they may be a good option.

Coin Cleaning Tips

The basic cleaning process will keep coins clean and hygienic, and restore their natural luster. For those looking for extra shine on non-valuable coins, without risking the loss of details which can come from commercial coin polish, cola drinks like Coke and Pepsi can be used as a soak to improve luster. Let the clean coins soak in cola for an hour before rinsing off.

Abrasive cloths can quickly scratch a coin or wear off details. Only use soft cotton cloths and soft or extra-soft toothbrushes for cleaning.

Buying Coins and Cleaning Supplies

While few supplies are needed to clean coins, the right accessories can really make a difference. A coin price guide will help you avoid cleaning coins that may be rare or valuable. Coin and hobby shops will sell polishes for non-valuable coins, as will many other physical locations. A lot of collectible coins are traded online, at specialty sites and auction sites like eBay . This can be a great way to turn those old coins into new money.

Buying Coins and Cleaning Products on eBay

With a broad selection of supplies, from coin cleaners and polish to albums and folders, finding the right tools and accessories is easy here. eBay is also a handy place to find miscellaneous supplies like Tupperware and dish soap . The Coins and Paper Money category is a great place to get started buying or selling coins, with coins from all eras and countries, commemorative coins, and more.

How to Buy on eBay

To start buying or selling on eBay, all you need to do is register for a free account. Items being sold will offer the Buy it Now option, a traditional auction format, or both. Buy it Now items can be paid for, and purchased immediately, simply by clicking on the button. To enter an auction, simply make a bid. The highest bidder at the end of the bidding period will win the auction and make the purchase. Visit the Getting started on eBay guide to learn the basics of using eBay, including searching and browsing, bidding and selling, and account information. If you have any questions, use eBay's customer service to find help.

eBay Buyer Protection and Feedback

Shopping on eBay is a fun and secure way to get coins and cleaning supplies. Go ahead and buy with confidence; if any purchased item does not arrive or fails to match the item description, the e Bay Buyer Protection policy will cover the purchase price and shipping cost of an item. Feedback is how eBay manages reputations for buyers and sellers. Feedback scores are displayed next to the seller's name on item listing. Remember, sellers can leave you feedback as well, so always be prompt and trustworthy in your transactions.


Cleaning coins can restore their original luster, improve hygiene, and prepare coins for making jewelry or putting on display. Since cleaning coins is an easy process that uses common household items, there is no reason not to clean your circulated, jewelry, or display coins. Be careful, however, as vintage or collectible coins can lose a lot of value if cleaned. Consult a coin price guide to determine the value of coins, and leave any collectible or rare coins uncleaned. When cleaning coins, use a gentle process and non-abrasive products to protect the coin's integrity. With the right method, any coin can be brought back to a clean, lustrous state, perfect for storage or display.

Have something to share, create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides