How to Clean Coins with Vinegar: Keep Your Collection Looking Great

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Want to clean coins in your collection? Before you do anything, first make sure that the coins you want to clean are not valuable or collectible, as cleaning will lower their value by as much as 90%. This activity is best reserved for old coins whose currency is not used anymore, or coins that have long lost their luster after years of use.

Coins can’t easily be cleaned using simply soap and water. In order to really make it clean without causing damage to it, cleaning it out with basic chemical solution found in your kitchen is what you need to do.

Watch this video on the use of vinegar to clean coins:

What you will need:

First, prepare the coins you want to clean for this experiment. What you are going to need for this activity are as follows:

  • ¼ cup of white vinegar
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons of salt
  • A bowl big enough to hold everything
  • Spoon
  • Tissue/clean cloth

How it’s done:

  1. The mixture is very easily made. Simply take the bowl, pour the salt and vinegar, and stir well with the spoon until the salt has completely dissolved.
  2. ​Before soaking the coins you have on hand into the mixture, you must first ensure that it does not have any dirt or grime attached to its surface.
  3. ​Take your coins into the sink and put it under some cold, running water. When doing this, make sure you hold the coins by the edges to avoid smudging the surface. Do this for about a minute.
  4. For older coins, sometimes the dirt will still remain. To deal with this, take a soft toothbrush and some dish soap and carefully scrub the dirt away. While doing this, ensure that you do not put too much pressure on the brush as you scrub and only focus on the dirtied area.

Time to soak it!

  1. Once you’ve cleaned out your coins with some water and some light scrubbing, it’s now time to bring out the bowl mixture you made.
  2. ​Place the coins in the mixture and let it soak for a few seconds or a few minutes. Just let it sit there without disturbing the mixture.
  3. After a few minutes, take out the coins. Some users rinse it in running water after soaking to be fully sure that the coins are completely clean, while others take a clean cloth or tissue and use it to carefully dry the coins.


Washing the coins under warm water is the best option here, because if you simply let it dry, the oxygen will react to the salt and vinegar on the coin and turn it bluish-green.

You will notice that your coins are now shinier than before they soaked into the solution and are now ready to sit in your collection, or for you to use in your next transaction.


  • Wash coins under running water
  • Gently brush away any rough stains
  • ​Soak in vinegar and salt mixture for a period of time
  • ​Rinse coins under warm water after soak (important)
  • Enjoy newly shined coins for collecting and spending purposes.

Why it works:

Vinegar contains acetic acid, while the greenish stains you see on copper coins are copper oxide. Copper oxide is a reaction between copper and oxygen that stains the surface of the coin.

The most effective way to get rid of these stains is by mixing acetic acid (vinegar) with sodium chloride (salt). The chemical reaction of salt and vinegar causes the copper oxide to dissolve, leaving you with a new coin.

Other Cleaning Methods for coins:

This method is effective on silver and copper coins. If you are looking to clean a lot more from your collection, these other tips may prove useful:

  • Gold coins: Soak coins in very hot soapy water for a few minutes. This methods proves to have the best outcome in bringing back the coin's shine.
  • Bronze coins: Soak these coins in distilled water, as the chemicals in tap water may speed up the corrosion even more. You can also use olive oil, but it is a very slow process, as it will require users to soak the coins in the oil for weeks at a time.
  • Silver/copper/nickel-clad coins: If they are not completely stained, soaking them in distilled water will work best. Otherwise, white vinegar can help get rid of those tough to remove stains. Soaking silver coins in lemon juice will give it that nice shine.


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