How to Clean Coins in Bulk Correctly
How to Clean Coins in Bulk
Written by: alexanoelle
It may come as no surprise that coins are some of the dirtiest items you can possibly pick up. After all, just think of all the hands they pass through on an average day, and how many germs and other particles get stuck in their crevices and engravings. Multiply that by years, and the coins in your pocket or your piggy bank are just loaded with dirt and other filth that chips away at their natural allure, deteriorating the surface composition, and ultimately making your coins visually unappealing. In this article, we shall discuss various ways on how to clean coins in bulk.
If this sounds like your coin collection, restoration is possible, even in bulk. If you are looking to clean a large accumulation of regular coins, there are several ways to do that. If, however, you happen to own rare, high-grade, or uncirculated coins, these need to be treated in a special way, ideally by a professional, and any attempt to clean these coins as you would standard coins used for monetary circulation may result in damage or reduction of their value.
METHOD #1: WASHING YOUR COINS
One way to clean your coins in bulk is simply to wash them. Much of the dirt, germs, and bacteria that have accumulated on the surface of your coins can be eliminated from a simple washing using soap and water.
1- Immerse the Coins in Water
Put your coins in a large bin or container, depending on the size of your collection, and bring them to the sink. Hold your coins under the faucet while running warm water to get rid of any initial dirt buildup that may be present on the surface of the coin. Even though you are washing your coins in bulk, try to ensure that each coin gets a bit of time under the faucet to remove easily to reach dirt.
Be sure to plug the drain before beginning the cleaning process or use a stopper that will catch any coins that you may drop. The last thing you want is your coins slipping out of your hands and falling down the drain - not only can this cause a clog, but you will be losing money!
The faucet itself should provide enough water pressure to get the job done. Once each coin or grouping of coins has had its time under the faucet, transfer the clean coins into a new bin or container, free of any dirt or debris. You won't want your clean, wet coins picking up old residue from the dirty container that your coins were initially sitting in.
All coins can be cleaned initially with water, however, copper coins, such as pennies, may exhibit more damage from the environment. This is because copper coins are reactive to more substances in the environment than coins made of silver or nickel. For this reason, pennies can be hard to clean using only water and may require additional attention.
2- Use Dish Soap
After the coins have had their initial run under the faucet to remove the easy dirt, you will want to put your coins in a solution made of dish soap and water. Dish soap is designed to destroy dirt and grime, kill bacteria and germs, and get rid of any oils or grease. This makes it the perfect formula for cleaning dirty coins. Use a small mixing bowl or another container to create your solution. Fill the container with warm water from your faucet and add a generous amount of dish soap. Mix the soap and water using a spoon or other utensil. If you have a large collection of coins, you may want to separate your coins into batches so that every coin becomes clean. For small to medium-sized collections of coins, one batch should be sufficient.
Let the coins sit in the soapy water for five to ten minutes and let the dish soap do its job, weakening the attachment between the dirt and your coins. Once the dirt and grime is loose, rub the coins in your fingers to help remove the dirt. At this point, you should see dirt beginning to come off the coins and float in the water.
3- Brush Coins for Additional Shine
Use a toothbrush with soft bristles to brush excess dirt off the coins. This can be done either individually or to small groups of coins, depending on the size of your collection. This will remove any remaining dirt and will restore the shine to the surface of your coins.
When you are done scrubbing your coins with the brush, be sure to do one final rinse to remove any excess soap that may have gotten lodged in the crevices. Be sure not to brush the coins too hard - just hard enough to remove the dirt.
4- Dry the Coins
Dry the coins off by placing them on a towel. Pat the coins to remove water from both sides. Let them sit for a while until they are completely dry, and then store them in a dry place. Be sure that each coin is free of moisture before moving them into storage so that mold does not invade your coin collection. At this point, your coin collection should be shiny and looking good as new.
METHOD #2: SOAKING YOUR COINS
Another method for cleaning coins in bulk is soaking them in a bath made of salt and isopropyl alcohol. Depending on the size of your loot, this method may be more effective since it entails a bit less individualized care. While soap and water are typically a solid go-to method for cleaning, some situations require a deeper cleaning solution. In those cases, you'll need to break out the chemicals to get the job done.
1- Create Coin Bath
To soak your coins, you will create a bath using isopropyl alcohol and salt. It is important to note that each of these chemicals is acidic and abrasive. While they will do a great job of cleaning your coins, be careful of how many contacts they have with your skin.
To make the coin bath, add two tablespoons of table salt to one cup of isopropyl alcohol. If this does not quite cover your coins, simply double or triple the recipe, or separate your coins into batches. Mix up the solution and place your coins into it. You should let your coins soak for at least two hours, but you can leave them in the bath for up to a week depending on how dirty they are.
Isopropyl alcohol is a universal solvent that is sold over the counter, and it is capable of dissolving particles that water cannot. In particular, isopropyl alcohol is good for dissolving non-polar compounds, which water has no effect on. The odor of alcohol is strong, and it is extremely flammable. Be sure to situate yourself near an open window and away from any open flames or heat sources when beginning this procedure.
2- Rinse the Coins
Once your coins have soaked for at least two hours in the bath, rinse them over the sink using distilled water. You should use distilled water for this procedure because the chemicals in tap water, such as chlorine, can cause erosion to your coins when combined with the acidity of isopropyl alcohol. Wash your coins with the distilled water until all chemicals are rinsed off. Be sure there is no leftover residue from the isopropyl alcohol remaining on the surface of your coins.
3- Dry Your Coins
Layout your coins on a cotton towel or cloth and pat them dry. Allow them to air dry until all moisture is completely gone. Do not apply heated air to the coins to make them dry faster, as this can affect the patina of the coin. Do not store your coins until they are fully dry.
4- Store Your Coins
Store your coins in an acid-free location to prevent erosion and damage. If you plan to spend your coins, you don't need to worry as much about storage, as the coins will soon be returning to circulation. If you are keeping your coins as collectibles, consider storing them in acid-free plastic folders, or other storage material such as cardboard or paper.
Do not store your coins in any holders that contain PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, as this material is known to contain chemicals that can damage and erode your coins. Remember that coins can be damaged by extreme temperatures, so store them in a room temperature area with low humidity.
At this point, you should feel prepared and equipped to clean your coin collection and restore your coins to their original luster and beauty. Even if you don't plan to preserve your coins as collectibles, it is never a bad idea to remove the dirt, grime, and germs that accumulate on the surface of your coins. This will ultimately prolong the life of the coin, and thus the amount of time each coin can remain in circulation. Not to mention, no one likes being given a handful of dirty, grimy change.
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