cold coin

Maintaining Your Collection: Should You Clean Old Coins?

Maintaining an antique collection requires you to keep them in pristine condition to avoid any further deterioration. Eventually, owning these valuables can fetch a good price in the market for traders and collectors. For example, old coins have plenty of intrinsic value, especially if they’re made from precious metals. However, cleaning your old coins isn't the best course of action if you want to sell them in the future.

Will cleaning my coin damage my investment?

There are generally two kinds of coin collectors: Hobbyists that want to complete their collection for display and coin hunters who want to make a savvy investment. Collecting antique coins is a suitable retirement investment, especially if you want to sell them in the future. If they’re made from precious metals and come from a special manufacturer, they can have a valuable price in the market. Since precious metals are a limited resource, old coins will almost always increase in value over time. Unfortunately, cleaning your coins can lead to a potential decrease in value.

Why shouldn’t I clean my old coins?

It’s almost an instinct to want to clean dirty objects if you plan to collect them or have them on display. However, this isn’t always the case for all antique items. For example, a collector grades and identifies an old coin’s value by noting its physical condition and rarity. Anything from its dents to its date of production can add potential value to your old coin. Patina is a green film-like material that forms around old metals due to tears of exposure to oxidation, making it a physical determinant of an antique coin’s age. For this reason, many hobbyists opt to keep this layer of film since it will further increase their collection’s value over time.

If disinfecting your coin is your main goal, you can gently perform light brushing or a quick rinse with water. However, it’s generally against your best interests to rub your coins afterwards. It’s better to let them dry naturally instead of using brass or silver polish since it can damage their intrinsic value over time.

What if I want to keep my old coin for display?

Of course, not everyone is in the coin collecting hobby to profit off of it in the future. However, if you really want to clean your old coins, it's best to use a soda solution in a tub and submerge your coins in it. Letting it soak for 5 minutes is generally enough to remove any grime on it. However, you can extend it to 15 minutes or more. Afterwards, pick up the coin and gently rinse it with cold water. Lastly, gently pat it with a towel and leave it to air dry.

There are other liquid solutions you can use, like tomato paste or vinegar. However, you need to carefully watch how these substances will react with other similar materials. Try having a dry run with other newer coins first before cleaning your antique ones. Remember to avoid mixing different coins in the same solution since chemical reactions can trigger among different metals. It’s best to handle your washing one at a time instead of doing it in batches.


As a general rule, it's impractical to clean copper, silver, gold, and nickel coins since they have high potential investment value by leaving them as is. If you know where to bring your goods, you can find the right buyer willing to pay up a considerable price for them in the future.

Here at London Gold Centre, we ensure a safe trading platform for our clients to exchange precious metals. We offer free testing and same-day payment for your product listings. If you want to sell or buy gold in the UK, contact us today and receive accurate gold prices per gram!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.