What's the best way to clean my coins?

In most cases, the best answer is do not clean coins. While you might think they'll look nicer if shiny, coin collectors prefer coins with an original appearance. Cleaning a coin may reduce its collector value by half or more.

Cleaning coins is similar to restoring works of art - they're both jobs best left to professionals who have the knowledge and experience to know when it's advisable, what techniques will work best and how to use them properly.

Never abrasively clean coins.

Even wiping with a soft cloth will cause small but undesirable scratches, which will reduce the coin's value. If the surface of a coin appears to be tarnished, it is best left alone as the colour change is the result of a natural process, which coin collectors call toning, and this natural toning sometimes increases the value of a coin – especially when it is considered attractive. Molecules on the surface of the coin react chemically, often with sulphur compounds and this reaction cannot be reversed.

Dipping coins

Although there are "Dips" that strip molecules from the coin surfaces, dipping is a classic example of a technique that, if it is used at all, should be used only by professionals. Dirt and other foreign substances sticking to coin surfaces can sometimes be safely removed by carefully using commercial coin cleaners to loosen the foreign substances, or, try letting the coins lie in either olive oil or soapy water for a few days, followed by rinsing the coins with tap water. Dry the coins with compressed air or allow them to air dry but do not in any way rub the coins.

Natural toning

Never try to remove the natural oxidation from coins, such as the tarnish on silver coins. Tarnish on silver coins is called "toning" and the coin is worth more with the toning intact. Removing it will damage the coin's surface and greatly reduce its value. In other words, you should never use dips, polish, or chemical solutions to clean your coins.

If there is a gooey substance on the surface of the coin, it may be the residue left from tape. To remove the substance, use a small amount of rubbing alcohol to dissolve it. Do not use acetone because it is highly flammable.

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