How to Clean Coins and Make Them Bright: 10 Ways

how to clean coins

Coins are one of the dirtiest things you handle daily, especially coins in circulation. Imagine hundreds and thousands of people handling, dropping, and using them in various situations. And while you have more control over the cleanliness of collectible coins, they can also become dirty and more susceptible to corrosion. Coins, particularly collectibles, must be cleaned regularly but with caution.

If you collect, you must ensure that you preserve the coin’s patina, which contributes significantly to the coin’s value. To help you out, here are 10 easy DIY ways how to clean coins and make them bright and shiny in no time!

How to Clean Coins: 10 Effective Ways


Getting your collectible or regular coins professionally cleaned is always an option, but you can also use simple household items to get rid of the grime and keep your regular coins clean.

#1. Vinegar and Salt

White vinegar can help give your coins that bright and coppery shine. All you need is to put vinegar in a container and add salt.

Stir one teaspoon of salt into a cup of vinegar until it fully dissolves, and then place your coins in the solution. It’s better not to stack the coins and keep the pennies spread out. Let them rest in this vinegar and salt formula for about five minutes, then wash them with distilled water, and wipe the coins with a towel.

If you are not satisfied with the gleam of the coins, you can put them back in the cleaning solution and rinse them with distilled water again.

#2. Isopropyl Alcohol and Salt Bath

Another cleaning solution that can effectively clean your coins is the powerful combination of salt and isopropyl alcohol. When combined, these two ingredients become an acidic and abrasive formula that can loosen all the accumulated and hardened dirt on your coins.

For this cleaning bath, add two tablespoons of salt to one cup of isopropyl alcohol. Stir the salt until it is completely dissolved, and soak your coins in the solution for two hours. Depending on how dirty the coins are, you can soak them for up to a week.

Clean the coins using distilled water and gently wipe them dry.

#3. Baking Soda

A paste made from water and two tablespoons of baking soda is a popular jewelry cleaner. It is an effective and cheap way to get the sheen of your old coins back.

Once you have created the baking soda paste, apply it to both sides of the penny with circular motions. Let the paste absorb for a few minutes before rinsing it with distilled water.

#4. Olive Oil

Another cheap and inexpensive technique to clean your coins and make them shiny is using olive oil. Let your coins sit in a container of olive oil for a month. Again, based on the severity of the griminess o your coins, you can leave them sitting in olive oil for up to six months.

The oil helps loosen all the dirt off the coins. Check the oil every once in a while because you need to change it when it changes color. Once you feel the pennies are soaked long enough, you can take them out and gently brush them with a soft-bristled toothbrush and wash it with gentle soap and distilled water.

#5. Ketchup

Yes, ketchup! This sounds a little unconventional and weird, but ketchup can restore the shine of your coins.

The acidity in ketchup can help rid of the oxidation buildup on your coins. You can apply some ketchup to the coins and let them sit for a few minutes. Then, use an old toothbrush to scrub your coins with ketchup using circular motions. Finally, clean the coins using warm water.

#6. Coke


Spare a can of Coke to use as your coin cleaner. The phosphoric acid found in Coke can take care of the oxides in your coins that usually leads to corrosion and tarnishing.

And the process of using Coke is very simple, too. Just soak your pennies in Coke for 15 minutes before rinsing them clean. Don’t keep your coins in Coke for too long, as Coke can dissolve metals.

#7. Hydrogen Peroxide

Another powerful cleaner that can bring back your coin’s shine is hydrogen peroxide. Sterilize your dirty coins by soaking them in this solution for 24 hours.

You can then clean the coins by rinsing them in distilled water and drying them thoroughly.

#8. Lemon Juice

Lemon juice has acidic properties that can make your coins sparkling clean. This citrus fruit can eliminate the accumulated brown oxidation of your coins and dissolve all the dirt.

To make the DIY cleaning solution, add one teaspoon of salt to 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Soak the coins in this solution, and after 10 minutes, gently scrub the coins with an old toothbrush.

#9. Mouthwash

Your favorite mouthwash can do much more than keep your breath fresh and clean. This antiseptic solution is surprisingly good at cleaning the debris, dirt, and even oil from your old pennies.

Soak the coins in Listerine or any other mouthwash of your choice for 12 hours, and then scrub them gently using a brush.

#10. Toothpaste

Yes, another oral hygiene product that you can use to clean your coins! You can use your usual toothpaste, but try to get a tartar control toothpaste for a more effortless experience.

Apply the toothpaste to the coin and rub it with your fingers or an old toothbrush. Then gently buff the coin using a paper towel or soft cloth and do a final clean sweep by rinsing the coin with distilled water.

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