The Best Methods to Safely Clean Your Coins

Cleaning coins is a touchy subject that many collectors have very strong opinions about and rightfully so. If a coin is cleaned improperly then it may decrease the value and appeal of that specimen. So, if you want to know how to clean coins, the best answer is probably to just leave that job to the professionals.

Cleaning coins is a touchy subject that many collectors have very strong opinions about and rightfully so. If a coin is cleaned improperly then it may decrease the value and appeal of that specimen. So, if you want to know how to clean coins, the best answer is probably to just leave that job to the professionals.

Over the years many individuals have tried to clean their own coins for one reason or another. There are even specialized solutions you can buy just for coins ranging from acid-based solutions to baking soda and vinegar remedies. However, at-home cleaning methods should be avoided. Acidic solutions and any kind of abrasive material can damage coins very quickly, especially if you are unsure of what you are doing. Sometimes even if a coin is cleaned properly, that return to glory can reveal other surface issues that were actually being covered up or minimized by the “dirty” substances.

Since the best way to clean coins is to get the help of a professional, you may be wondering exactly where to turn. There aren’t many businesses that offer such a service and there are plenty of fine details that must be considered on a piece-by-piece basis for the coin to remain undamaged. There are even differences in the steps or processes that may be utilized depending on the metal, such as cleaning copper coins as opposed to cleaning silver coins. 

There are two services that can more often than not clean your coins properly. First, there is Numismatic Conservation Services (NCS), which operates with Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC). There is also Professional Coin Grading Service Restoration, which is a separate service offered by Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) certification.

NCS boasts being able to eliminate or reduce the effects of outside contaminants that may have caused damage such as hazing, spotting, corroding, and tarnishing, and can even sometimes remove or reduce residue left behind by certain types of glue, chemicals, and residue from PVC (polyvinyl chloride). NCS CAN NOT correct issues such as wear and tear, scratches, and “milk spots.” 

Please note, before submitting your coins to NGC and their conservation service to do your due diligence. Coins that undergo the conservation process at NGC are not offered any kind of grade protection or guarantee. For more information on the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation and its Conservation service, continue reading here.

Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS)’s restoration services are “designed to help Collectors address environmental problems with their coins.” Similarily to NGC, PCGS’ Restoration services CAN NOT address issues such as scratches or dings. Certain types of spots, depending upon how set into the material of the coin, can be removed, while others will not be attempted for fear of further damaging the coin.

Ultimately, cleaning your coins can be a gamble best left to the professionals to avoid further damage or the uncovering of even more unsightly mars, and even then, it truly depends on the type of injury that needs to be diminished or “cleaned.” It’s worth noting that coins that appear dirty or tarnished carry a lot of personality and are even prized among certain collectors.

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