There are many reasons to clean copper pennies, whether you have a coin collection that requires shining or you have children looking to turn a jar full of old pennies into a treasure. Bringing luster back to copper pennies is easy once you know which ingredients get the job done. Learn how to clean copper pennies using items you have in your cupboard right now.
Before emptying all of those coins on the counter to clean, it’s essential to know that some coins are considered valuable, and cleaning them decreases their value. Check the coins date and compare them to online resources or get advice from coin collectors before cleaning coins.
Coin collecting is a fun hobby for children and people of all ages. While valuable coins are best left alone, everyday pennies look shiny and new after proper cleaning and make your collection look stunning. Removing patina, tarnish, and gunk from those coins is simple using the right cleaning solution.
- Cleaning Copper Coins
- Ways to Clean Copper Pennies and Coins
- Clean Pennies with an Eraser
- Cleaning Copper Pennies with White Vinegar and Salt
- Clean Copper Coins with Ketchup
- Cleaning Copper Pennies with Lemon Juice
- Bring Shine Back to Copper Coins with Coca-Cola
- How to Clean Copper Pennies with Baking Soda
- Cleaning Copper Pennies with a Metal Cleaner
- Bring Shine Back to Copper Coins with Olive Oil
Cleaning Copper Coins
Over time, the surface of the penny accumulates dirt and gets discolored as a result of copper oxide. While regular soap and water remove the grime, it doesn’t remove the tarnish.
Specific elements are required to clean copper properly and turn dirty pennies into shiny pennies. You can also use these methods to clean your copper sink or as one of the ways to clean a copper pipe that is tarnished or has stains.
Ways to Clean Copper Pennies and Coins
A dirty penny is usually the result of years of accumulated dirt. It’s essential to use a mild cleaner when cleaning old coins. An easy way to clean copper pennies and coins to remove the build-up of grime is with soapy water and a little elbow grease. This technique is an easy way to clean silver coins and zinc pennies without causing damage, too.
Fill a washtub with warm water and add a squirt or two of dish soap. Agitate the water with your hands to create sudsy water and place the dirty pennies into the tub. Allow the coins to soak for a while to loosen up years of gunk.
Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to scrub the surface of the coins gently to remove dirt. Hold each coin under running water to rinse away soapy residue. Place the coins on a paper towel to air dry.
Clean Pennies with an Eraser
A standard eraser is an excellent tool for cleaning dirt off of pennies dated after 1982. During this time-period, zinc was substituted for copper as a cheaper way to make pennies. Using copper cleaning methods on a zinc coin turns the penny black.
Rub the front surface of the coin with the tip of an eraser. Any type of eraser works to remove the build of dirt. After the front side is clean, flip the coin over and rub the eraser on the backside. Rinse the penny under warm water and dry with a soft towel.
Cleaning Copper Pennies with White Vinegar and Salt
White vinegar and water are two of the best basic ingredients for cleaning copper pennies. This recipe uses the mild acidic power of the vinegar along with salt to create a chemical reaction with the coins to remove copper oxide.
Combine the white vinegar and table salt in a small container or bowl. Place the pennies into the solution, making sure that they do not rest on top of each other. Let them rest for about five minutes and then use an old toothbrush to scrub the coins gently. Rinse under warm, running water and dry them with a soft cloth.
Clean Copper Coins with Ketchup
If you do not have any vinegar or lemon juice in the home, ketchup or Tabasco hot sauce is a great alternative, and you undoubtedly have this condiment in your refrigerator. Both of these contain salt and vinegar that is mildly acidic and cleans copper coins with ease.
Squeeze enough ketchup or Tabasco sauce into a small container or bowl to cover your pennies and place the coins into the sauce, making sure they do not overlap. Let them sit for three minutes and then use an old toothbrush to scrub the penny surface gently. Rinse the coins thoroughly under running water until they shine and then dry them with paper towels.
Cleaning Copper Pennies with Lemon Juice
Citrus liquids such as lemon and orange juice are mildly acidic and work wonders for cleaning copper coins when combined with salt. This solution not only removes dirt and grime but washes away copper oxide from pennies.
Pour the lemon juice into a small container or bowl and add the salt. Place the copper pennies in a single layer into the solution. Allow them to sit for five minutes and then use a soft-bristle toothbrush to scrub the coins lightly. Rinse the pennies thoroughly under running water to remove all residue.
It’s important to clean copper coins without damaging them, and rinsing them with plain water prevents them from developing a blue-green sheen called malachite that results from the combination of copper, salt, and oxygen.
Bring Shine Back to Copper Coins with Coca-Cola
Coca-Cola, or any generic type of cola soda, contains acids that dissolve away grime from coins and removes copper dioxide. The only downside to using cola to clean pennies is that this process takes a little longer than using vinegar or lemon juice and salt.
Place the copper pennies in a container, making sure that none of them touch or overlap. Pour cola over the top of the coins until they are covered. Allow them to sit in the liquid for about two hours and then flip them over. Let the pennies sit for two more hours and then rinse them under warm water to wash away the dirt and soda residue.
How to Clean Copper Pennies with Baking Soda
If your copper pennies are still not shiny after cleaning them with a mildly acidic liquid, try using baking soda to bring out their shine and luster. This recipe also makes an excellent homemade brass cleaning solution.
Make a paste by mixing just enough warm water and baking soda in a small bowl. Rub the paste over the surface of each penny, using your fingers to coat the entire surface. Rinse the coins under warm water to remove all of the baking soda from the crevices and buff the coins dry with a soft cloth.
Cleaning Copper Pennies with a Metal Cleaner
If you’d prefer to use a commercial metal cleaner to clean coins, try Bar Keeper’s Friend. This cleaner contains oxalic acid that cleans gunk from coins and brings out their original shine. This type of cleaner is also the best way to polish brass and clean other metal surfaces.
Wet the coins and place them into a container. Sprinkle the cleaner over the pennies and let them sit for a few minutes. Use your fingers to work the cleaning paste into the surface of each coin and then rinse them under warm water to wash all residue away.
Bar Keeper’s Friend is also ideal as a copper pot cleaner. Follow the same procedure and your copper pot will look like new again. If you don’t have any of this product, make a paste from baking soda and vinegar and apply the same way.
Bring Shine Back to Copper Coins with Olive Oil
Olive oil is an excellent solution for cleaning pennies and bringing back their shine and is a safe way to clean old coins without damage. While this process is extremely long, the final result is worth the wait.
Place the pennies into a bowl, making sure that they do not overlap, and pour olive oil over the tops until they are covered. Place a lid on the container and soak the coins for one week.
Fill another container with warm water and add a couple of squirts of dish soap. Remove the coins from the oil, one at a time, and clean them in the soapy water by scrubbing them gently with a toothbrush.
If the coins are clean and shiny, rinse them thoroughly with warm water and buff them dry with a soft cloth. If they remain dirty, place them back into the oil and repeat the process.
This procedure gives your pennies a nice DIY copper polish that you can also use for copper items throughout your home. Make your copper shine with simple home ingredients and just a little time.
Who would have thought that cleaning copper coins is like performing a fun science experiment in the home?
Cleaning pennies with a combination of simple ingredients and watching the copper oxide dissolve away like magic is a fun activity for the whole family and a great way to restore those coins to their original shiny color.
We hope that you enjoyed discovering how to clean copper pennies using a variety of fun and interesting techniques, and we’d love it if you’d share our copper coin cleaning recipes and tips with family and friends on Facebook and Pinterest.