6 Ways to Clean Copper Coins Easily

Cleaning and polishing copper, including cleaning copper coins, can be a daunting task, but with the various methods discussed below you'll be able to not only preserve the beauty of copper items around your home but you can clean coins easily.

shiny copper pennies on a platter after being cleaned

The great thing about the following methods  is that the items used for cleaning pennies and other copper items, like this one ingredient method I used to clean my Grandma's copper boiler, is that you can get the best results and remove even stubborn stains with products that are inexpensive and readily available in your pantry. 

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pink piggy bank filled with copper pennies and stacks of clean copper pennies in front of it on a brown table

First, we'll start with tips for cleaning a dirty penny (or two, or three, or 100 from your piggy bank!). You can jump to any of the options quickly using the Table of Contents below!

tray filled with dirty copper pennies before cleaning

A copper penny is made of a combination of copper and other metals, and they can easily tarnish over time but the simple steps below work great to clean dirty pennies and dirty copper in general.  

The Soap and Water Method

(This will work on silver coins as well.) 

red container filled with sudsy water

The first step in cleaning and polishing copper coins is to gather all the necessary supplies. You will need a soft toothbrush (an old toothbrush will be fine), dish soap (I prefer Dawn), and a clean soft towel. 

Next, you need to prepare the solution to clean the copper coins. Mix a few drops of dish soap with warm water in a small bowl or plastic container. Dip the toothbrush in the soapy water and gently scrub the surface of the penny in small circular motions.

beautiful shiny copper pennies after cleaning with lemon juice and salt

After scrubbing the coin's surface, rinse them under running clean water to remove any soap residue. 

Use a clean towel or paper towel to dry the coins thoroughly.

Lemon juice and Salt

Lemon wedge in a white bowl with salt for cleaning copper coins

Cut a lemon in half and sprinkle approximately one  teaspoon salt on the exposed surface of the coin and areas of brown oxidation. Rub the lemon on the coin and then rinse it with water. The citric acid in the lemon and the abrasiveness of the salt will help remove the tarnish.

Baking Soda

Make a paste of equal amounts of table salt and baking soda and add vinegar until a thick paste forms. Rub the combo on to the coins and let them sit until thoroughly dry. Rinse with warm soapy water.

Vinegar and Flour

Mix equal parts of white vinegar and flour to make a paste. Apply the paste to the coin and let it sit for 30 minutes. Rinse with water and then dry the coin with a soft cloth.

Hot Sauce

Hot sauce contains vinegar and salt, which can help clean copper coins. Apply a small amount of hot sauce to the coin and let it sit for a few minutes. Rub gently with a soft cloth or toothbrush and then rinse with water.

Tomato Ketchup

How to clean and polish copper without harsh chemicals.

Ketchup can be used to clean copper coins, copper pans, and other copper items. This is by far my favorite method of cleaning copper and is the one that has yielded the best results for me especially with larger copper items.

How to clean and polish copper without harsh chemicals.

It's a great way to make a small task out of bigger jobs because of the ease of use, just slather it on, and the chemical reaction that ensues once you introduce the acetic acid to the dull brown of the dirty copper is almost magical!

For cleaning copper pennies apply a small amount of ketchup to the coin and let it sit for a few minutes. Rub gently with a soft cloth or toothbrush and then rinse with water. The acid in the ketchup helps remove the tarnish from the coin. For cleaning bigger items, check out the details below.

Learn more about what coins are made of at the U.S. Mint Coin Classroom.

xo cleaning

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