Can I Clean My Challenge Coins?

October 16, 2023

Have you ever wondered how to keep your challenge coins clean? Can you clean a challenge coin? The answer is, yes! There are many different ways to clean your coins that will keep them looking shiny and new. Some coins will see heavy use and thus accumulate dirt and grime on the surfaces. These are more than a coin for anyone who has been presented with a challenge coin of any sort and you will want to keep them clean and looking like new.

Challenge coins can be a token of appreciation and recognition; it's something to take pride in and cherish while honoring a particular moment in one's life.  But, how do you keep your challenge coins clean? Keeping your coins clean and polished may seem easy, but there are a few ways that you can keep your coin looking its best.

There are certain ways to polish other types of coin, like currency. It is said that placing these types of coins in a bowl of ketchup with its high vinegar content for about 10 minutes will make your pennies, dimes, quarters and nickels shine like the day they were minted. While this may work fantastically for these types of coins it probably is best not to submerge your challenge coins into this type of acidic solution.

Below you will find a few helpful hints that will keep your coins looking great for years to come! Coin collectors, experts, and others have their own process, and there are several viable methods. These helpful hints below will keep your custom challenge coins shiny without any damage.

Table of Contents

Getting Started

This is the obvious place to start and the most straightforward way to keep your custom coins clean. To properly clean your coins, first, assess how dirty they are. If there is a substantial amount of build-up, hold them under warm running water for about a minute on each side and let them dry on a towel. Do not rub them as the dirt may damage your coin's surface.

Assess whether your coin is made of precious metal or a base material. Many coins will be a base metal like iron or zinc with a metal plating finish like brass or nickel. When in doubt as to which type of metal your coin is made use the gentlest method as if the coin were a precious metal.

For Precious Metals

Yes, olive oil! Collectors of coins and other sensitive metals use olive oil to clean their coins. Olive oil is excellent at freeing accumulated dirt, making it easier to remove without any damage to the coin. The process is slow and only suitable for the dirtiest of coins. Soak your custom coins in olive oil for a week or more. During the process, change the oil if it becomes discolored. Some ancient coins require six months or more in oil. Your custom coin will be fine in a matter of days! After soaking, remove the coin and lightly clean it with dish soap and water.

The Most Popular Method

If your coin has more gunk than just warm water can manage, it's time to do something a bit more. After washing your coins, dip them in distilled water or a soap solution. Distilled water is gentle and can eliminate most of the gunk without altering the color. Soak your custom coin for a full day in distilled water. Dip each coin on its own, so they are not touching one another. After soaking the coin for a day, scrub the surface with a soft toothbrush and dip it again for another day if needed. If the coin is greasy, you can opt for a soap solution with dish soap and warm water. Again, dip your coins individually, but this time brush them inside the water with an old toothbrush. Be gentle and watch the build-up slowly disappear. You can also soak the coin in a soap solution. However, assure that you use a weak soap with no acidity. This will keep your coins looking great, sparkling, and shining like you just got it!

For Greasy and Grimy Coins

If you need something a bit stronger for the dirtiest of coins use an isopropyl alcohol bath, which is: A mildly acidic solvent can be used to dissolve built-up dirt. Mix isopropyl alcohol with equal parts water and soak your coin in the solution for at least two hours. Upon removal from the bath, rinse them with plenty of water. This will remove any notable build-up while keeping your coins looking outstanding!

The Nitty Gritty

If you need to scrub off tough dirt, you can always add a touch of salt to your isopropyl alcohol solution. A few tablespoons of table salt will make your solution abrasive and will assist in the effortless elimination of built-up dirt. Place your coins in the solution and let them soak for a couple of hours. Afterward, remove your coins and rub them with a soft toothbrush. The salt will create friction and remove the dirt and debris effortlessly!

Ask An Expert

The last step is for the most valuable of coins. If you have a valuable coin that you don't want to risk damaging, hand things over to the pros! A coin expert will be qualified and equipped to clean your coin and prevent damage. Several chemical-based methods are complex or dangerous for the average person to attempt. An expert will be able to take the dirtiest coin and make it look brand new again!

Now that you know how to keep your coins looking their best, it’s time to take a closer look at your collection and get busy! Keep your coins clean and keep your collection looking great at all times! Take pride in what you’ve worked so hard for!

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