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Forum Home > FAQs > How (Not) to Clean Coins?

Limited Member
Posts: 86

Disclaimer: These are personal views and I'll not be responsible for any damage directly or indirectly caused to your precious coins if you try any suggestions from here. Try at your own risk and definitely not on any rare coins. Hope this helps.


I'm sure there are many experts here but let me share my experience and experiements.

Being new to hobby, I tried different experiments and I had my share of learnings on this topic. Please share your experiences/experiements on what worked and what not on cleaning coins.



A hardcore coin collector will tell you "never ever to clean the coin" as cleaning actually degrades the valuation of the coin and most importantly the originality of it. Improper cleaning could easily cause non-reversible damages to the coin. So fundamentally, cleaning the coin is completely discouraged if you could help. I don't dare to experiement with coins that I know are hard to come by or are rare ones. But most of my coin collection comes from Indian Republic and world wide circulation coins and I don't like them oily/greesy, dirty.


Home Solutions:

There might be lots of professional solutions available but what I've tried are all from home made solutions. With my experiements I might not have gained expertise on how to clean coins yet but I've definitely earned expertise on how NOT to clean coins :D

To start with, try your experiements only on common, non-valuable, easily available coins.



- Never ever clean coins of different metals by putting them together. This is the most disastrous thing to do. Especially copper coins colors/discolors other coins almost immediately

- Avoid cleaning damaged coins. Cleaning attempts will only damage them further.

- Lemon solution side effects: I had used lemon solution for some of the American cents and in 30 mins they  got black holes(got burnt in short).

For some reason lemon or diluted lemon solution has never worked for me. Aluminium coins almost got disolved in lemon solution completely wiping out the surface of the coin.

- Remember that cleaning can only wipe off dirt and not recover the scratched coin

- Don't use toothpick or any sharp needle like instruments to get rid of layered dirt. Most likely, you are going to scratch the actual coin surface in the process.I think this method needs very steady hand and lot of practice.

- Tamrind solution is little mild compared to lemon jiuce but it left reddish color on my aluminum and bronze coins

- Putting coins in Pepsi etc has not really worked for me.

- Not to clean coins in hard water

- Make sure you clean your hands well before you clean the coins. This is pretty common sense but I was surprised to see how careless some of my friends were on this point.

- Olive oil method really tests your patience and since I don't have much, I'm not sure if it works. I tried it keeping the coin as long as 3 days in it and I didn't see any cleaning at all.

- Using even soft bursh leaves scratches on the coins. Or may be I didn't use it well.


What has worked for me:

- Mild Liquid Soap: I think this is the safest way to clean any coin. Take a bowl of warm water, put some liquid soap, stirr it well. Keep the coin dipped into this for few minutes upto 1 hour, take a coin out and wash it with clean warm water.


- Cooking Soda: This has worked miraculously for most of the coins of steel, almunium (best results), bi-metal, nickel and silver. If the bronze coin is little damaged at the surface level this leaves reddish stinge.  For copper coins, coins are cleaned well but it makes them little whitish. It's very easy to clean coin using cooking soda. Wet a coin in water, dip a coin in cooking sode powder, rub a coin between your thumb, index and middle finger for couple of seconds, wash the coin with water. Repeat this process if dirt is still there. Don't overdo it more than 3-4 times as that might damage the coin.


- Tomato Ketchup: This works good for cooper coins and shouldn't be used for any other metals. Dip a coin in tomato ketchup and leave it for couple of seconds. Take it out and rub a coin between your thumb, index and middle finger for couple of seconds and then wash with water. Don't try this on fragile or  damaged coins. Tomato ketch up contents pretty strong acids and longer exposure could cause the damage. In fact you can feel tomatoc ketch up working on coin when you are rubbing it.


Since I don't have a gold coin yet, not sure how to clean it. To be frank, I don't think I would ever dare to clean a gold coin :lol:


Hope this helps.

Remember, try to clean your coin only if you must and can survive loosing it if your cleaning process goes wrong. 

June 24, 2010 at 6:47 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Site Owner
Posts: 489

Thanks for sharing your coin cleaning dos and donts Ranjit. It will serve as a great resource to every collector contemplating to clean their coins.

"Coin collecting is the only hobby in the world that you can
spend all the money in the world and still have some left over" 
June 24, 2010 at 7:11 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 2

I use Ajax or clorox to clean my coins. I dip them in solution for less than 2 seconds and then run in between my fingers and then I just wash them in runnin gwater and let them dry overnight. 

June 6, 2011 at 1:36 AM Flag Quote & Reply

broken compass
Limited Member
Posts: 230

Nice post Ranjit! I always stress a lot about not cleaning the coins. I never clean my coins. It totally destroys the coin, it's value and a TPG's ability to authenticate the coin.

June 27, 2011 at 3:24 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 91

But if the coin is left uncleaned, the damaging material stuck on the surface is bound to dmage it with passage of time.If kept with other coins,they may also start getting damaged.So,in my opiion,keep each coin separate and I think, keep them in sealed plastic pouch/ cover after cleaning with whatever material available with you and thoroughly drying thereafter.By the way I would like to what is Ajax or Clorox from Mr Ram as I have not heard of them.

September 6, 2012 at 10:54 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 91

DEAR MR. RAM, I am yet to get reply from you.Please.

October 3, 2012 at 10:23 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Limited Member
Posts: 4

nice message /education ,coins are very delicate on surface

October 13, 2012 at 2:24 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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