How to Clean a Penny


There are several ways of cleaning pennies. Bear in mind that these are for face value coins only. For antiques and collectibles, it’s best to take them to an expert.

Using Salt and Vinegar

Pour a teaspoon of salt in a bowl. Add ¼ white vinegar into the bowl. Mix with a spoon. Put the pennies in the bowl. You’ll see the dirt dissipate after five minutes or so. Don’t try to put too many pennies in at the same time. If you do, the solution will get dirty.

For a small bowl, put in only a couple of pennies. You can add a few more if the bowl is large. When the dirt is gone, take out the pennies and wash it with water to remove the smell. Replace the salt / vinegar mix if necessary. To continue cleaning pennies, just put them in the mix

Using an Eraser

If it’s just grime, you can use an eraser. Take the coin and start rubbing it with the eraser. If you want to use this technique, get a motorized eraser. It will make the process quicker. You can also use vinyl erasers. Unlike ordinary erasers, these don’t contain any abrasives.

Taco Sauce

Get any taco sauce and pour it in a bowl. Add some vinegar and salt. After mixing, put the pennies in the mix. Leave it there for five minutes. Wipe it with a cloth and wash it with cold water.

Some of those who have tried cleaning pennies say vinegar and salt are not necessary. Just put the pennies on the table and spray the sauce on the coins. Leave it there for five minutes before wiping it clean. Rinse it with cool water.

A Note on Commercial Cleaners

These cleaners are often used for jewelry and brass. They may help clean coins, but read the instructions carefully. Some of these chemicals might be too strong. Make sure the cleaning solution is applicable for coins.


You can also try a toothbrush. Get one with hard bristles. Start rubbing the coins in an up and down manner. If dry bristles don’t work, try damping it a little. You can also use a steel wire brush to get rid of grime.

Tips and Warnings

You can also try lemon juice when cleaning pennies. Pour a generous amount in a glass. Put in a teaspoon of salt in the glass. Put a penny in the glass.

Don’t drop the pennies in bunches as the mix will get sullied. After five minutes, take the pennies out. Discard the lemon juice and wash the pennies under running water. Dry them off.

You can also try ketchup. Open a bottle and pour some in a bowl. Put some pennies in it; be careful not to let them touch each other. Remove the pennies after a few minutes and wash it off.

Note: pennies issued after 1982 get hallowed when deeply scratched. Take care when rubbing off the dirt.

These methods for cleaning pennies aren’t just easy, but also fun. Once they’re cleaned, wash them with water every now and then to avoid dirt buildup.