Money has been used for the exchange of good for hundreds and hundreds of years. They are passed from person to person on a regular basis. Some rather valuable coinages many times make their way into circulation, almost waiting for the lucky person to find them. Many people use metal detectors to treasure hunt and find coins. Of course after their history they are less than clean. Some coins will be caked with mud and dirt, slippery with grease or just plain dirty and you may be after the look of a shiny coinage, making you want to clean it.

Should you clean your them? Well that is a house divided. There are some pros and cons to each side. If you clean your coinages they will look new, bright and shiny. If you don’t the best you can hope for is muddy or greasy piece of metal that may be undistinguishable in regards to
what coin you are holding. Now the serious side – if you clean your coinage you can severely detract from the value. Typically, coin collectors look for coinage that has an aged patina. A patina shows the rich history behind the money. Cleaning currency with the wrong type of cleaner such as abrasives or an acidic, can and oftentimes does etch the coin and make it worth far less than a dirty coin. If you know the coin is old and not overly valuable – have at it. You want a clean penny, you deserve it, it’s your penny. If you are not sure of the origin or value of the cool dime, quarter, foreign or unrecognizable money – don’t clean it. Employ a professional to help you.

Remember if you can’t see the date or immediately recognize the coin as a common issue – take it to a professional for an evaluation.  If you don’t have the right equipment and cleaning products, you can severely devalue the coin.

Cleaning Common-coinage

Place the pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, half-dollars or what have you in a lidded plastic container or Ziploc bag.

Add warm water and a generous squirt of liquid dish soap.

If you have your coinage in a Ziploc bag, gently massage the coinage through the bag to loosen dirt, oils, grease and other debris from the surface. If your put your coinage in a plastic container, gently swirl the water, allowing the flow to pull dirt and debris off the coinage.

Poke a few small holes in the bottom of the Ziploc bag to let the water drain. Open the top of t
he bag and run warm water onto the coinage to rinse off the soap residue. If your coinage are in a plastic container, carefully drain the soap and water from the container. Run warm water over the change to rinse off the soap.

Spread a clean towel flat on a level surface. Lay the change in a single layer over the towel.

Grab a thin, clean rag and pat the coinage dry.

Gentle Cleaning for You Pocket Change

Put the coins in a glass jar that has a lid.

Pour olive oil over the top of the change until the oil sits about ½ inch over the top of the coinage.

Let it sit and watch for the oil to become cloudy or gunky.

Strain the olive oil. Rinse the coins and inside of the jar with war water. You can leave the change in the jar while rinsing.

Look at the coins, if they are still dirty, repeat the process. It may take one to two days, a week or two or even a month for olive oil to gently dislodge the dirt and grime from the surface. You will have to change the olive oil every time it becomes cloudy and gunky.

Once you are satisfied with the level of cleaning rinse the coins under warm water. Spread them out in a single layer over a towel and pat them dry with a soft rag. Never rub the coins because you can scratch the surface.

Disinfecting Dirty Coins

Hundreds of thousands or maybe even millions of people have handled a coin over its lifetime, which may leave behind some nasty germs. If you worry about what can be living on your coinage, you may want to disinfect them, although the chances of becoming sick are rare and unlikely. But, if you found your coin in places of suspect like a sewer trap or other highly unsanitary place, caution never hurts.

Put on a pair of disposable gloves and lay a clean rag flat on a level surface.

Place the coins in a single layer on the rag.

Soak a cotton ball with isopropyl alcohol, otherwise known as rubbing alcohol. Dab the front of the coins with alcohol, don’t rub, just dab. Flip the coinage over and dab the other side. Change cotton balls frequently if they become dirty.

Let the rubbing alcohol evaporate from the surface. Ahh- germ free coins.

If you think you may have come across a coin of value

Handle it from the edges only.

Do not use vinegar to clean.

Do not use scouring powder to remove dirt and grime.

Never use lemon juice.

Wear white cotton gloves when handling an old or rare coin.

If you have come across a rare or valuable coin, store it in a safe place. Use a velvet backed display case to show it off to the world.

Determine the value by looking in coin collecting books and magazines before taking it to a coin dealer. A good magazine to look in is Coin World. Just so you have a ballpark idea of what you may have. Always check the reputation of the dealer before bringing a coin in for an appraisal, inspection, cleaning or to sell it. Not all dealers are reputable. Go by word of mouth or check their Better Business Bureau reputation.

If a dealer makes an offer to buy the coin from you, get the offer in writing if possible and then visit a few others to compare the offers. A great place to do this is at a coin show where you will have several dealers under one roof.

Always have a very valuable coin insured.