Brass coins are pretty common in a lot of coin collections, but they may be looking a bit worse for wear after a lot of time in storage. Brass is a pretty sensitive metal, but you can easily clean it with a few household items.[1] Set aside a few minutes of your day to clean off any dirt and rust so your coins can stay in great condition!

Method 1 of 2:
Removing Dirt and Grime

  1. 1
    Rinse your coin with warm, tepid water. Hold your coin beneath the water to get rid of any obvious dirt, rust, and grime. If the coin still looks visibly dirty, very lightly rub and clean the surface with mild soap and a soft cloth. Try not to rub the surface too much, or you could damage the coin.
    • Don’t confuse rust with patina! Patina is a natural, beneficial, green tint that older metals may develop over time, while rust actively damages the coin. Patina can help protect your brass coins from rust, so you don’t want to wash it off.[2]

    Tip: Always where gloves when handling brass! Touching the coins directly can spread unwanted oils to the brass, which can make your coins tarnish more easily.[3]

  2. 2
    Examine the coin with a magnifying glass to find any dirty spots. Hold the glass over the surface and rim of the coin to spot any stubborn sections of dirt or rust. Focus especially on the edges as you search for grime on your coin.[4]
    • Don’t be discouraged if your coin is still dirty. Brass cleaning can involve a lot of trial and error before you get the results you want!
  3. 3
    Pick off dirt and grime with a wet toothpick. Soak 1 end of a toothpick in warm water and gently poke the sections of dirt and rust. Try to lift and nudge the grime off the surface. Don’t scrape or scratch at the problem spots, as tempting as it may be.[5]
    • Scraping the coin can damage the metal.
  4. 4
    Blot the coin with a soft cloth or let it air-dry. Dry off both sides of the coin, as well as the rim. You can also place your coin in an open area where it can dry off naturally.[6]
    • Feel free to dry your coin off in direct sunlight—don’t worry, this won’t damage the metal at all.

Method 2 of 2:
Giving Your Coins a Deep Clean

  1. 1
    Wash your coin with a baking soda paste. Mix 1 US tbsp (15 mL) of hot water and 1 tbsp (g) of baking soda in a bowl until the ingredients form a thick paste. While wearing gloves, coat your fingers in the paste and very lightly rub it over the surface of your coin. Once the brass coin is completely coated, rinse it off with cool or lukewarm water and let it dry.[7]
    • You don’t need to let the coin soak in the baking soda paste at all.
  2. 2
    Rub a dot of regular toothpaste on your coin to clean it. Squeeze a tiny, pea-sized amount of traditional toothpaste onto the tip of a gloved finger. Gently knead the toothpaste into the surface of the brass coin, then rinse it off with lukewarm or cool tap water.[8]
    • Stick with regular toothpaste for this instead of a specialty brand.
  3. 3
    Soak your coin in ketchup for 10-20 minutes. Place your brass coin in a plastic cup or container. Cover the coin with regular ketchup, then let it soak for at least 10 minutes. Once the coin has soaked, rinse it off in cool or lukewarm water.[9]
    • You can add a spoonful of water to your ketchup cup so it spreads better over the surface of your coin.
  4. 4
    Clean the coin with lemon and salt. Slice a lemon in half and dig out any of the seeds in the center. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the sliced portion of lemon, then lightly rub the fruit over your coin. Once you’ve gone over both sides of the coin, clean it off with a very soft cloth to get rid of the residue.[10]
  5. 5
    Cover your coin in a mixture of salt, white vinegar, and flour. Mix 1 teaspoon (4.9 mL) of white vinegar, 1 tsp (2.6 g) of white flour, and 1 tsp (5.9 g) of salt together in a small bowl. While wearing gloves, lightly coat the coin with the paste, then let the mixture soak for an hour. Rinse it off with lukewarm water, then repeat the process on the other side of the coin. Dry off the coin with a soft cloth, or let it air-dry.[11]

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      Tips

      • You don’t have to clean your brass coins! A lot of older coins are more valuable when they look naturally worn.[12]
      • If you’re a big coin collector, you can clean your brass and copper coins at the same time.[13]

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      Warnings

      • Don’t use standard cleaning products like detergent, wax, or bleach to clean off your coins. Brass coins are pretty delicate, and these cleaners can do more harm than good.[14]
      • If you’re working with really old coins, consider sending them to a numismatic professional.[15]
      • Don’t store your brass coins with other types of metals. This could cause your coins to oxidize and rust.[16]
      • Avoid using PVC packs to store your coin, as these can do long-term damage to your coins.[17]

      Things You’ll Need

      Removing Dirt and Grime

      • Warm water
      • Magnifying glass
      • Toothpick
      • Soft cloth

      Giving Your Coins a Deep Clean

      • Baking soda
      • Water
      • Bowl
      • Toothpaste
      • Ketchup
      • Plastic container
      • Lemon
      • Salt
      • White vinegar
      • Flour

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      wikiHow Staff
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      This article was co-authored by our trained team of editors and researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness. wikiHow's Content Management Team carefully monitors the work from our editorial staff to ensure that each article is backed by trusted research and meets our high quality standards. This article has been viewed 6,876 times.
      2 votes - 100%
      Co-authors: 4
      Updated: June 26, 2020
      Views: 6,876
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