You’ve probably heard it before – don’t clean your coins yourself. Overall, it’s actually some great advice. When a coin is not cleaned properly it can lose some of its value. Coins that were once worth a small fortune are reduced to a fraction of their worth due to the fact they were improperly cleaned. It’s sad and it does happen. Coins can be cleaned, but it needs to be done properly.

Over time, coins will naturally tone and tarnish, buyers will actually use toning as a gauge of a coin’s value. Coins made of copper will begin to turn brown over time when they are exposed to air, a copper coin will never have the redness it had after first being minted. Coin collectors will find that silver coins will develop unattractive tarnish or carbon marks, and over time this can result in the coin being damaged. Blemishes on silver coins can be from dirt or residue from old PCV holders. Having silver coins cleaned by a professional can be especially beneficial.

When it comes to valuable or rare coins, it’s best not to clean them yourself. Consult a reputable coin dealer and ask for cleaning advice. Coins with lesser value can be cleaned following some basic tips without too much risk. When you’re cleaning coins with surface dirt and contaminants you’ll want to gently wash your coin with plain water (add some soap if needed). Once you’ve washed the coin, you’ll want to dry it by patting it down with a towel, be sure to never rub when drying.

Cleaning silver coins will often require dipping the coin with a commercial silver drops. This can be an effective way to remove tarnish without harming the coin. You can purchase silver drops at many local hardware and grocery stores, you can also buy it from a coin dealer. Before using silver drops, you’ll want to read the instructions, you’re working with a chemical and you must follow all safety guidelines. Dropping a coin in the chemical solution for a couple of seconds will usually do a great job at cleaning your coin, be sure to rinse the coin off right away. Remember, the acid will continue to react with the coin if it’s not properly rinsed off. Any leftover acid residue can be removed by mixing a solution of a water and a small amount of baking soda. Rinse the coin off and dry it by patting with a soft and dry towel. Ideally, distilled water should be used to rinse the coin. Your coin won’t look new, but this cleaning process will make it look more attractive.

You may find you coin is covered by a sticky green solution. This is most likely caused by your coin being stored in a plastic holder and contaminated with PVC residue. You’ll want to remove this residue as soon as possible; your coin could suffer from irreversible damage if the coin is not cleaned. Again, it’s best to seek the help of a professional, but there are various cleaning products on the market that can do the job. One the best coin cleaning solutions on the market is MS-70, this universal coin cleaning product will remove PVC residue, but it will often damage your coin’s natural appearance and value. The MS-70 should be placed on the coin with a Q-Tip. After gently applying the solution on the coin you’ll want to rinse the coin under running water and pat it dry with a soft towel.

It can be hard looking at your coins and realizing they’re dirty and stained. Most of the time it’s best to leave the coin as is, this will allow it to keep its value. Commercial cleaning solutions will clean your clean, but it can often cause your coin to instantly decrease its value. Typically, it’s best to seek the advice of an experienced coin dealer before cleaning your coins.