Coins are probably one of the few commodities that see some places even humans can’t reach: the inside of a pocket and the inside of a bank. While some coins are commonplace, others have sentimental value attached. We can help you with the longevity of these coins without several tips on how to clean them. Check out our 9 tips to clean dirty old coins at home: with vinegar, silver, bulk, and safely.
Types of coins
There’s more to coinage than just the regular quarter, dime, nickel, and penny. There’s bitcoin, too. However, we’re not talking blockchain here. Check out the various types below so that you can identify the real and the fake in your collection:
With a picture of Lincoln on the obverse and the lincoln memorial on the reverse, the one cent or penny has been around since the early twentieth century. It’s mainly of copper composition, which makes it a rusty orange-brown color.
Owing to its composition, this one is known as the nickel. It’s got the profile of Thomas Jefferson on the obverse and the Monticello on the reverse side. Its been in circulation since 1938.
A dime a dozen. These currencies are unique in that they have edges decorated with 118 reeds. The front side will have Franklin Roosevelt’s profile. The reverse will have a torch, an oak branch, and an olive branch. This coin is more recent as it began being circulated in the year 1946.
Also known as a quarter or quarter dollar, it is made famous by George Washington’s profile. Now you can have either of the two versions of the quarter. One will have the bald eagle on the reverse, while the other will have a colonial military drummer.
The bald eagle is the older of the two designs and thus can fetch you more value when you sell it.
There is also newer coinage that has been circulated in the last twenty years or so. One is the America the Beautiful Quarters series which has a modified version of the Washington portrait.
Otherwise known as the half-dollar or 50 cents piece, this coin is designed with the portrait of John. F. Kennedy. On the reverse side, you can expect a seal of the president of the United States. The other version distributed after 1976 has the Independence Hall.
The one-dollar has had many types over the years. The earliest one featured a profile of Dwight. D. Eisenhower. The reverse either had the Apollo 11 Mission insignia or the Liberty Bell over the moon. The Susan B. Anthony dollar also made an appearance from 1979-1999. Presidential dollars also started circulating in 2007. Since 2012 these are only minted for collectible collections as well.
Apart from currency, there are also precious metal coins known as bullions. These were available in gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. The face value of the coin didn’t reflect its actual value. Pictures of the American Eagle, American Buffalo, and a statue of liberty are common in these bullions.
Should I clean my coins?
If you’ve got a collection and you’re wondering whether you should clean up the grime on it, think again. Ask yourself if the coinage is of monetary value to you. In other words, do you mean to sell them one day? If yes, you probably shouldn’t be cleaning them. Cleaning them up will take away their years, and years is what gets you a higher rate on the antique market.
But if you only mean to keep them as a sentimental token, you can go ahead and clean it.
Gold and silver bullions are also for monetary gains, but they usually aren’t cleaned. You should avoid cleaning them and put them up for sale as they are. Any genuine buyer of precious metals will instantly know true gold or silver regardless of the years of grime and dirt.
How to clean coins safely
Here’s how you can quickly clean dirty coinage in minutes to achieve shiny currency.
Get all things ready.
You will need a plastic container, some mild hand soap, a soft bristle brush, a small absorbent or microfibre cloth, and water.
Once the wait is over, remove them from the base of the container and lay them out. Take the brush and start scrubbing the surface to remove the broken-down grime.
Use the microfibre cloth, then wipe the surface once the brushing has been done. You can dip it in clean water and leave it to air dry if that’s what you prefer.
You’ve got brand new old coinage on your hands!
There’s plenty you can do at home with just a couple of your kitchen ingredients. You needn’t run to Home Depot for every little cleaning assignment.
How to clean old, dirty coins at home with vinegar
- Gather your things
You will need white vinegar, baking soda, water, a couple of plastic containers like Tupperware, and a toothbrush from your kitchen. Also, have a cloth ready to wipe and clean afterward.
Grab a container or bucket of water and add one cup of white vinegar to it. Now add the coins to soak for a couple of hours. If the condition of the articles is very dirty or corroded, you can leave them soaked overnight.
Now take them out and lay them neatly over a surface or a piece of cloth. Take some baking soda and sprinkle neatly on one side of all the bullions. Make sure all have a little bit of a sprinkle.
Now take the toothbrush and start scrubbing the soda on the surface. Take your time on each one to carefully remove the grime. Once you’re done with one side, turn over all the coins and repeat the same.
Use some hot water to rinse them all out. Lay them out on a towel or cloth to air dry.
4. How to clean silver coins
Silver is a whole new ball game. Since it’s a precious metal, the rust and corrosion over time are not the same as a regular penny. But make sure you are not looking to sell these afterward, as cleaning them could lower their value.
Let’s see how you can clean out a silver coin.
i. Gather your equipment
You’ll need aluminum foil, a plastic container, some baking soda, a pair of rubber gloves, and some water to rinse.
ii. Cover your tracks
Once you have the plastic container, create a bath for the coin by covering it in aluminum foil. It will create a non-reactive layer for the cleaning.
iii. Create the bath
Lay the silver coin in the center of the bath and add some boiling hot water on top.
iv. Add baking soda
What you’ll need to do now is to sprinkle some soda onto the coin in hot water. The water will sizzle and bubble as you do this, but it’s normal.
v. Rub, rub, rub
Once this part is covered, get the gloves on and take the coin out. The soda on top must be rubbed using your forefinger and thumb to remove the layer of grime. Slowly, you’ll start to notice the silver shining through.
Now repeat the process on the reverse side as well. Once you’ve done this, rinse out with cold water and leave to air dry.
5. How to clean coins in bulk?
There are a couple of ways you can do this with vinegar, baking soda, or just Fast Orange. We’ll show you the Fast Orange route here.
Take all the coinage together and leave them soaked in hot water for a couple of minutes to half an hour.
ii. Fast Orange
Lay out all the coins outside the water. Apply some fast orange solution to it using a toothbrush.
Use the toothbrush to scrub the abrasion on the surface. You’ll notice the coin starting to shine in a matter of seconds.
Use a cloth to wipe away the grime and compare your results to the undone ones.
6. How to clean coins with hydrogen peroxide
While many are skeptical, we can say with confidence that regular currency coins will clean just as well using hydrogen peroxide.
i. Grab all your coins
Get all your collectibles and place them in an inert container. Try this on regular currency first.
ii. Place hydrogen peroxide
Grab your bottle of the solution and pour it over all and make sure they are well soaked.
iii. Leave overnight
Leave the well-covered solution overnight to dissolve away all impurities. Hydrogen peroxide will remove all organic impurities easily.
The next day, recover your findings and rinse them in cold water. Use a microfibre cloth to dry each one and witness the shine for yourself.
7. How to clean coins with baking soda?
To clean coins with baking soda, you will need to do the following:
Soak them all in a solution of white vinegar and water. The vinegar should only be a cup in a bucket full of water.
After 15 minutes to half an hour of soaking, remove the collectibles from the solution. You can soak them longer if the corrosion is quite a lot. Lay them out neatly on a piece of cloth.
Take the soda and sprinkle some on each coin. Since the surfaces are still a little wet, they should be quick to absorb this.
Use a toothbrush to scrub the soda on the surface. The corrosion and grime will also be scrubbed away.
v. Rinse and wipe
Now rinse the coins in cold water and wipe with a cloth. Watch the super clean and gleaming coins in all their glory.
8. How to clean dirty coins with vinegar
Vinegar on its own won’t do much to clean. With a lot of salt, magic happens!
i. Make the solution
In a cup of vinegar, mix a lot of salt. Use an empty cup to mix the salt well into the vinegar. The salt should be in excess to make a very well saturated solution.
ii. Now dip
Take the coin and dip this into the mixture. You’ll find the dipped end is completely clean. Repeat the process on both the ends and all the coins.
Now rinse all the pennies and coins in regular water, or else the pennies will form an acetate solution over time and go green.
9. Best coin storage solutions
Enthusiasts often look for the perfect storage box to display their royal collections. Let’s take a look at some of the best options we’ve curated for this purpose.
i. An album
Just as pictures are stored for decades in an album, you can also store the historical wealth of coins in a dedicated coin album.
This particular one has space for 240 coins from all over the world or years. There are dedicated spaces of 3x3cm and 4.5x4cm for small and large ones.
The flap makes sure no coins fall out and yet are gloriously displayed for all readers to gaze at. An album so durable you’re grandkids will be adding their collection to it and passing it on!
If you’re the type who likes mystery, these single-row storage boxes are the way to go. You can add your coin flips to them in a horizontal manner. 10 storage boxes will be more than enough for you to display your collection.
It is also great for gifting. You can stack up a couple of your favorite coins and wrap the box to create a nice air of mystery. Watch your loved ones open the collection to their faces full of awe.
Make your very own album with protective cardboard holders. The sheets will hold two different sizes of coins with pockets for the cardboard-protected coins.
With 400 slots, you’ll never run out of space! The best part is that you get to create the album with your own hands as you please!
We’ve seen a lot of cleaning coins and displaying them. Let’s take a look at other queries.
Not at all! Quite the contrary. Acetic Acid is the magic ingredient in white vinegar that can magically dissolve all corrosion and dirt in a matter of minutes. Combine it with salt to make a saturated solution and wash away all grime.
Yes! Vinegar on its own isn’t too effective. But after a long soak in vinegar followed by a scrub with soda works magic on coins. Rinse off to get a brand new look.
If it’s coins that you mean to keep forever with yourself, it is ok to clean them. You will want to display them lovingly in albums and storage boxes to show off, requiring a gleaming collection. If you wish to sell any of them, you mustn’t clean them. Keep them safe in their containers to avoid scratching, but don’t go cleaning them with brushes and solvents. Devaluing might occur if any signs of wear and tear over the decades occur.
The only way to do this is only to use water. Get some lukewarm water and run the coin under it. Rub with your fingers and try to get the grime off. Now repeat on the reverse side. When this is done, pat dry with a cloth.
Yes. The black grime on silver is known as toning. Cleaning the toning off will decrease the value as it will also scratch the surface below. Silver ones are worth more with the toning still intact.