The first step to take when you have a silver coin is to determine whether it is valuable or not. If you think you have a valuable silver coin, bring it to a coin dealer before cleaning it. With that said, the following will show you how to clean silver coins using a variety of solutions and methods.
A numismatic is a person who enjoys coin collecting and is an ever-growing popular form of collecting mintage forms of currency. Cleaning collectible silver coins like the silver dollar, Morgan dollar, and silver eagle half dollars, along with gold coins and other precious metals, can bring back its original luster and shine.
How to Clean Silver Coins
There are a few things to consider when cleaning silver coins. Coin collectors and coin dealers will be the first to tell you that you should never use harsh chemicals for cleaning rare coins. Doing this removes the natural surface shading and patina of the silver coin and leaves behind microscopic scratches on the coins’ surface.
If you have old silver coins as a keepsake, there are several cleaning options that you can use to remove dirt and tarnish. Clean silver coins are something to be desired when collecting bullion.
While many collectors enjoy the natural toning on silver coins that result from oxidization, others like to show off the silver content in its original, luxurious form. We’ll show you how to get tarnish off silver and remove years’ worth of built-up dirt and grime.
1. Cleaning Silver Coins
Coins that are many years old can have a build-up of dirt and grime that diminish the coin’s overall appearance and make them look dull. This method is the simplest way to clean silver coins without damaging them.
Fill a container with hot water and squeeze in a few drops of mild dish soap, not detergent. Tap water has chlorine in it, and this may cause discoloration in silver coins, so we recommend using distilled water for this process. To clean old coins, submerge them in the soapy water and allow them to soak, turning the coins over every few hours.
If the coins are filthy, dump the soapy water each day and add new water and soap and continue to soak until the coins are clean. You can also use a toothbrush to clean the coins, but you’ll want to use a soft-bristled brush and gentle scrubbing. Rinse the coins under running water and place the clean coins onto a soft cloth to dry.
2. Freezing Dirt Off Silver Coins
If your coins are still dirty after cleaning them with soap and water, try the following method to freeze away leftover dirt. This method shows you how to clean a silver dollar or any other silver coin by freezing.
Freezing and Cleaning Method
Soak the coins in distilled water in a plastic container. Place the soaked coins into a dry plastic container and set it into a freezer.
While the water on the silver coin expands from freezing, it should pull away dirt from the surface area. Remove the frozen coins and use a soft cloth to brush away the frozen dirt particles. Repeat if necessary.
3. Cleaning Silver Coins with Toothpaste
Believe it or not, you can use toothpaste to clean dull silver coins. It works similarly to silver polish yet at a fraction of the price.
Squeeze a dab of toothpaste onto the coin and rub it onto the coin with your fingertips. Any toothpaste will work, but the tartar control type works best because it contains more hydrated silica.
Use a paper towel to buff the dirty toothpaste off the coin. Rinse with clean water and set the silver coin aside to dry.
4. How to Remove Heavy Dirt Build-up Off Silver Coins
You can use an acid bath to loosen and remove accumulated dirt and dark tarnish off silver coins. Both white vinegar and lemon juice are mildly acidic liquids that work well for this type of cleaning.
Pour either lemon juice or white vinegar into a container. Put your coins into the solution and allow them to sit for 24 hours, making sure that the coins do not overlap or touch each other. If you are in a time crunch, put small iron nails into the solution, which speeds up the soaking process to only half an hour instead of 24.
5. Cleaning Heavily Soiled Silver Coins
Here is a heavy-duty coin cleaner that can be used to remove grime. Mineral oil works wonders for removing caked-on dirt and should not harm your silver coins. The only downfall for using this cleaning method to clean a coin is the time it takes to complete.
Pour mineral oil into a container and set the coins into the oil. Propping up the coins in the liquid works well so that both sides of the coin are exposed to the oil. If you do not have mineral oil, you can use olive oil instead, with minimal chance of damage.
Check the silver coins and oil every two weeks by rinsing the coins under warm water to remove the oil. If the dirty residue does not rinse off with the oil, replace the coins into the container of oil.
Once the mineral oil has removed dirt from the coins, use cotton balls dabbed with acetone to wipe away the mineral oil. Clean the coins with warm, soapy water and lay them out on a soft cloth to dry.
6. Cleaning Silver Coins with Baking Soda
This method is a natural cleaner for silver that is similar to using a silver polish yet with ingredients you can find in your kitchen. It is also ideal for cleaning tarnish off of sterling silver.
Cover the bottom of a dish with a sheet of aluminum foil that is smaller in size than the container and pour boiling water into the dish. Sprinkle some baking soda into the water and then add the coins.
Make sure that the silver coins do not touch any area of the foil. After the coins are clean, remove them from the baking soda water, rinse them with fresh water, and set them aside to dry.
7. How to Clean Silver Coins with Lemon Juice
An acidic liquid, lemon juice helps to break down any grime and dirt that has built up on your coins. While this method is not recommended for collector coins, it works quite well at cleaning keepsake coins, bringing back their silver shine.
Mix equal parts distilled water and lemon juice into a container. Soak the coins in the lemon solution for up to one hour. Remove the coins and dump out the lemon solution, and then pour the olive oil and one teaspoon of lemon juice into the container.
Add the coins and place the heat-safe container into a larger container of near-boiling water. Remove the coins from the warm bath and wash them with soapy water. Allow them to air dry.
8. Cleaning Silver Coins by Electrolysis
If you have never seen a coin cleaned by electrolysis, then you may be shocked and amazed the first time you do. You can watch the tarnished coin turn from hazy brown to shiny silver before your eyes in mere seconds.
While many people opt to use table salt for this method, we do not recommend it. When table salt is added to the electrolytic solution, it can create a chemical reaction and release chlorine gas.
Place a sheet of aluminum foil that is larger than the silver coin into the bottom of the pan. Fill the glass pan with water, add a sprinkling of baking soda, and place the coin onto the center of the aluminum foil and watch as the tarnish disappears. Remove the silver coin and rinse away the residue.
9. How to Get Tarnish Off Silver Using Silver Polish
Silver polish is an excellent tool for cleaning tarnished silver coins that are meant to be keepsakes but is not recommended for use on rare coins. The abrasives and acids in the polish may damage the collectible value of those types of silver coins.
Apply a coin size amount of the silver polish onto a soft cloth and fold the fabric in half to transfer the solution to both sides. Place the coin on the cloth and fold the material over while gently rubbing the solution onto the coin. Use a clean area of the fabric to wipe the silver coin dry.
10. Cleaning Silver Coins with Ammonia
If you discovered some ancient coins that require cleaning and identifying, try an ammonia solution to remove hard deposits and dirt build-up.
Make sure that you are working in a well-ventilated area and wear protective gloves. Pour the ammonia into a container, place the coin into the solution, and seal the container.
After the coin has sat in the ammonia solution for a few minutes, remove it from the container and gently brush it with the toothbrush under cold water. Repeat as needed until the coin is clean.
Cleaning coins is a great way to bring shine and luster to your silver coin collection as long as it is done correctly. However, certain silver coins have more value when they are not cleaned. It is essential to determine which types of silver coins to clean and which ones are better left alone.
Knowing how to clean silver coins the right way can make a big difference to a coin collector collection, so why not share these coin cleaning methods with your friends and family on Facebook and Pinterest?