Should You Clean Coins Before Selling Them?

Last Updated on April 14, 2022

Old coins spend decades in cabinets, drawers, pockets, purses, banks, even in gutters and because of that built-up grime can be visible in the coin.

Hence, you will normally try to clean your coin to turn it back to its original form. However, there are some things you need to know before you restore your precious item to its original glory.


Should you clean coins before selling them?

No. It is better to leave your old coin as is even though it looks dirty and grimy. Cleaning or attempting to restore your old coin can devalue its worth. So if you are planning to make money out of it, try to get an appraisal for it.

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How to clean dirty coins?

Remember not to use metal polish or jewelry cleaner when washing dirty, grimy coins. These chemicals are too harsh on collectible metal currency like old dollar coins, buffalo nickels or copper wheat pennies. Wheat pennies have a good value.

You can only use jewelry cleaner if you are interested in making your old coins clean, shiny and you don’t really care about the monetary value. 


This is the safest way to clean your old coins. If you think your water is not safe or corrosive, you can use distilled water or instead.


Listerine and other antiseptic mouthwashes can be an effective cleaner. In a small container, put your coins then pour in the mouthwash, and leave it for 12 hours. Wipe it off with a cloth afterward.


This is one of the best cleaners you can get from your home. Soak your old coins in a glass or container for 30 minutes to overnight if needed. Afterward, wipe it off with a soft cloth or scrub it with a soft toothbrush.


This can help loosen up the hard dirt. Just fill your container with warm water then add a few drops of mild soap. Then rub your old coins using your fingers with the mixture.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Place your old coins in a container then fill it with hydrogen peroxide, just enough to cover your items. Soak your coins for 24 hours, then rinse the pieces with warm water and let it dry.

How to clean corroded coins?

Baking soda is the best option. Just wet the affected area of the coin with water then roll in baking soda. Gently rub the affected area with a soft toothbrush. 

Wash off with water your coins. Repeat the steps if necessary.

Removing corrosion from collectible coins like wheat pennies and other valuable coins is delicate. Nevertheless, as mentioned earlier, don’t clean your old coins if you’re planning to sell them.

If you clean your old coins wrongly or you use harsh materials you might remove important patina that coin collectors are looking for.

In addition, avoid wrapping your coins together by individual date if you are planning to sell it.  Collectors separate coins not by date but by composition so sorting it by date is just a waste of time.

If you are unsure of cleaning your coins and you think you can’t provide the gentle touch needed to properly clean them, then it’s better to consult with the coin experts. They can provide you with the right insights you need as well as appraisal for your precious coins.

Jackie Palmer is a Houston-based coin journalist and fashion enthusiast. She joined Jewels Advisor’s content team after years of experience as a content strategist, managing blogs and social channels for local stores. Jackie mostly collects and studies US coins produced during the 20th century and over the years, published hundreds of articles for multiple coin publications.