How To Clean A Penny (Copper & Zinc)

One of the main reasons for pennies becoming dirty is their continual circulation among people. So, thinking about cleaning them is not wrong, and they can be cleaned in several ways. There is endless information available on the Internet about cleaning pennies, and these ideas can also be used to clean nickels, quarters, dimes, or even specifically cleaning silver coins, etc.

If pennies are collectibles, then cleaning them may reduce their value. Therefore, before cleaning old coins, consult an expert on the subject.

Pennies are normally made of copper, which is a shiny, bright metal, and more recently Zinc. Exposure to air leads to the formation of copper oxide. As a result, the shiny bright metal develops an external layer having a dull green color. Removing the copper oxide by cleaning will give your penny a brand-new look.

Tools/Materials Required

The following articles are necessary:

  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Small bowl


Follow these steps to make your pennies completely clean:

Step 1 – Pour a small quantity of vinegar into a bowl. The amount of vinegar used to clean the pennies depends on the number of coins you wish to clean. The vinegar poured into that bowl should be enough to cover those pennies. On average, a quarter-cup should be adequate.

Step 2 – Add a teaspoon of salt to the bowl full of vinegar, and stir the mixture until the salt is completely dissolved.

Step 3 – Now put those pennies into the bowl containing the mixture of vinegar and salt. The coins should be dipped in that bowl for at least five minutes.

Step 4 – Now take out the pennies from that mixture, and wash them in water. Dry them off with paper towels.

There are various other methods to clean your pennies.

Pencil Eraser for Cleaning Pennies

Anyone can use this simple technique. It only requires rubbing the penny with a pencil eraser. With this simple technique, anyone can get their penny as clean as it once was. You can clean as many pennies you want with a single pencil eraser. An alternative is to use vinyl erasers, but they do not contain abrasive, which is typically found in pencil erasers.

Taco Sauce Cleaners

The application of taco sauce is another simple method of cleaning these pennies. The presence of salt and vinegar as its ingredients explains why this method works. You just have to put a thin but uniform layer of sauce on the penny and then rinse it off with water after some time.

Commercial Cleaners

There are also various commercial cleaners available in the market to clean your pennies, but they may prove a bit expensive if you have lots of pennies to clean.

Tips and Warnings

  • Try cleaning only a few pennies at a time. Cleaning in small batches is a better option.
  • Rinse your pennies well with water; otherwise, if any of these cleaning agents remain on the coin, the coin will turn blue-green.
  • If your penny is really important to you, use a coin holder to store your coin.

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