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Eraser Technique
Submitted by Paula - Tested by



This first technique uses a standard pencil eraser. Just start rubbing. The gunk will slowly be removed revealing a shiny new finish.

For better results and less carpal tunnel pain, attach a short pencil to a standard variable-speed drill. Electric erasors are also available at any drafting supply store. They use long strips of erasor so you won't waste a bunch of pencils.

The final result will be a well-earned, gleaming penny just waiting to be smashed.

Drawbacks: Awkward, laborious

Ketchup Technique
Tested by



Baking Soda

The 'Ol Ketchup technique is a time-tested standard for collectors. Simply grab a bottle of ketchup from the fridge and rub a little onto the penny.

For the best results, use a toothbrush (your spouse's works best) and scrub the surface lightly to work the ketchup into all the tight areas.

Rinse the penny (and the toothbrush) and you will notice that it is now dull and pink. Not to worry. We are not finished yet.

Now pour some baking soda into a small dish and add some water to make a thick paste. Rub that all over the penny with your fingers to bring back the shine.

Drawbacks: Time, smell, wrath of spouse.

Vinegar & Salt Technique
Tested by



Baking Soda

The use of vinegar and salt to clean pennies goes way back. It works on the same principle as using ketchup (Ketchup contains vinegar, salt and tomatoes), but there is less rubbing involved.

Mix up a concoction of vinegar and salt. Stir it around to dissolve the salt and then dump in your dirty pennies. Mix it up a bit and let it sit for several minutes. You will be able to see the cleaning process in action.

Scrub lightly with a toothbrush to get the especially gritty areas. Rinse and spit.

Bring back the shine with the baking soda mixture mentioned in the ketchup techniqu above.

Drawbacks: Time, smell, Never really gets shiny like new.

Brasso Technique
Tested by



We tested a commercially available metal cleaner named Brasso. I would think that anything similar would work the same way.

After applying the cleaner to the penny surface, rub lightly and let it sit for several minutes.

Once the solution begins to dry, take a paper towel and start rubbing. When the towel turns black, you know your making headway. Incredible shine! This picture doesn't do the penny justice at all. You could signal planes with this thing.

Drawbacks: Time. Expense.

Lemon & Salt Technique
Tested by



This one works great and tastes wonderful with crab or fresh shrimp.

Simply place your pennies into a shallow dish and cover them with lemon juice and salt.

Wait a few minutes, rinse and serve. No rubbing required. (The dots you see on the 'After' penny were caused by air bubbles in the lemon juice. Be forwarned!)

Drawbacks: Cost of crab & shrimp. Leave it in too long (like overnight) and it will turn the penny black.

How to clean old, dirty ZINC pennies
Forest LeDoux TEC # 4281

Cleaning pennies, zinc or copper is easy before pressing, but not so easy after.

Rule number one thru ten, DO NOT use anything ACIDIC, even slightly acidic, on pressed zinc pennies!You will not be able to remove the black stain from the exposed zinc.

First, wash the pennies in a strong, soapy solution. In my case I used TSP in warm
water. Then thoroughly rinse the pennies in clean water. Now comes the hard part as each penny must be done individually. Gently, and I stress gently, scrub each penny with a wet SOS pad. The goal is to remove as much dirt and coloration as possible without marring the coin. When you are satisfied, clean the soap from the coin with a soft toothbrush and rinse in clean water. I just drop them in a bucket of water till I’m done with all of the coins. When done with all your pennies, remove from the water and thoroughly dry. I do not do the back side of the pennies unless it is a ’mule’. The pennies will not be bright and shiny, but will be presentable and readable. I suggest you try it on a duplicate first.

Nevr Dul Technique
Submitted by Cameron

We have used most all the methods you have listed for cleaning pennies. We have found Nevr Dul to do the best job. Use Nevr Dul on the penny then buff with dry cloth. The shine is much brighter and it takes very little time.

Kaboom Technique
Submitted by Judson & Michael H.

Kaboom Pro Pure Brite makes pennies shiny even when they are the darkest of pennies.

Apple Cider Vinegar Technique
Submitted by Kati

Pour Apple Cider Vinegar into a small container drop penny in and wait till it looks clean ( do not leave in to long) rinse rub on a baking soda paste rinse, dry and polish lightly with a soft cloth.

Toothpaste Technique
Submitted by Avid Collector

Materials: Penny (of course), Toothpaste (any, but I've had good luck with Aquafresh & regular Colgate, and of course Arm & Hammer for obvious reasons.) & a toothbrush.
Directions: Smear dab of toothpaste onto penny, wet toothbrush, 'scrub'. Then rinse under room temperature tap water, while scrubbing penny. If it's still grimey, then repeat until it's at your desired colour. You shouldn't have to repolish it afterwards with the bakeing soda paste, as is ought to be shiney. Pat dry. The neat thing is, it will even smell 'mint' fresh.

Tarn-X Technique
Submitted by Julie C.

There is a brand of metal polisher called Tarn-x that works really well that is available in most big stores. It is a bit toxic so you are supposed to use rubber gloves when your hands will be coming into contact with it. I just pour a little of the Tarn-x into a plastic container, put in the coins to be polished, snap on the lid, and shake it up for a few seconds. Fish the coins out with a spoon, rinse them off and dry them. I always polish the coins before squishing them so I can tell if they are really clean

Goo-B-Gone Technique
Submitted by Julie C.

If your penny has goo on them. The goo doesn't always come off during squishing. Goo-B-Gone is a good product to use to get the goo out of the crevices of the coin if necessary. Polishing again after squishing is a good way to make sure that your coins look really good.

Cola Technique
Submitted by Jojo

Drop your penny in a little cola (doesn't need to be name brand!) and soak for a little while. It doesn't take long, and the penny will be shiny and clean.

A.1. Sauce Technique
Submitted by Selinda

The best cleaner for pemmies is good old A.1. sauce, this will shine a penny and the stomach, the saying is that if A.1. does this to a penny, what does it do to the lining of your stomach? I am a new collector but this works.

Wright's is ALL RIGHT! Technique
Submitted by Darlyne H. / Sally Harper

The very best way to clean your pre-1982 pennies is to use "Wright's Copper Cream. It comes with a sponge in an 8 ounce round container, and it works better than any other method listed on this cleaning tips page! Just rub some of the cream on the pennies with the included sponge, rinse, and wipe dry. Your pennies will shine like the day they were minted!

Update - Wright's BRASS Polish actually works far better than their copper cream and much faster and with a lot less mess than Brasso!  It's water soluble too for easy cleanup (Brasso is not).

Orange Glo Power Paste Technique
Submitted by W. Moffatt

It works well. Take a sponge and get some power paste and start to apply. Let it set for a minute or 2 the rub it off and you get a shiny penny.

DrawBacks: Time & Expense...but smells like oranges!

Car Wax Technique
Submitted by Nathan

I have had some good experiences with Turtle Wax. Just put some on a rag and rub your pennies clean. Turns them shiny like new.

Cranberry Juice Technique
Submitted by Jimmy

Put a penny in cranberrey juce and let it set over night.

Sunshine Technique
Submitted by Joy

Leave your pennies in a sunshiny place after you have cleaned it and it will keep your penny from tarnishing for a period of time.

Caution For Soaking
Submitted by Sam S.

If you chose a cleaning technique that involves soaking your pennies, soak them individually or the dirt and grime will just be transfered from one penny to another.

Mr. Metal Technique
Submitted by Bryan L.

Put a handful of pennies in a small container and cover them with Mr. Metal. Shake the container slightly so that all pennies are completely covered. Let them sit for 5-10 minutes and then rinse with water. Make sure to dry the pennies right away so you don't get water spots. The pennies closer to 1982 will come out very shiny. The older pennies will come out a little dull. But when smashed, all pennies will be very shiny. I think the dullness of the older pennies is just an accumulation of scratches over many years. When smashed, all the old scratches go away.

Hot Sauce Technique
Submitted by Teia

Taco Bell's fire sauce to clean your pennies. It works really good & it's free.

Another Hot Sauce Testimonial:
My class experiments each year with what will remove the tarnish from pennies. ...All work to varying degrees with hot sauce at the top of the list.

And another:
I've been using Arby's sauce for quite some time. Louisiana Hot Sauce works pretty quickly in getting the tarnish off, at least as quick as most things. Lemon Juice can also commonly be found in packets free at resturaunts.


Warning (with follow-up):
When using things like hot sauce to clean pennies, I’ve found that it can actually turn the penny completely black on occasion... I don’t know why this is but I suggest testing a cleaner on the back or edge of a penny before covering the entire coin. This way if the copper reacts badly, the penny is not ruined.

I have since discovered that the black caused by hot sauce can be erased with a pencil eraser and come out shinier than it would have had I not used the hot sauce. Just thought I’d update my findings.

Rock Tumbler Technique
Submitted by Tyler Tyson

I have a cleaning tip I use and I think its one of the best for a serious EC collector, I'm not talking about someone who carries 4 pennies, I'm talking about the individual who carries 50 pennines and 3 rolls of quarters... Just in case....It involves the Rock Tumbler, thats right a rock tumbler filled with 200 or so pennies... I use a vinegar, and a polishing medium.... However I also have just used vinegar alone and achieved excellent results. I know vinegar doesn't leave coins gleeming, however one could experiment with other cleaning compounds. I don't know how many coins it could actually hold? probably 500-600 at a time? But I usually leave it spinning for 3-4 hours, rinse and pat the coins dry.

Brillo or S.O.S. Pad Technique for Zincs
Submitted by Donna

Hi everyone, I have been addressing the problem of green and black ruined zincs...and I found a way to clean them that works great . Brillo or SOS pads! They look better than new, now I am going to coat them with clear nail polish. I am so happy, I saved some very old retired EC's from Six Flags from the 80's that were green or black and I couldn't even tell what was on them anymore. Now they look perfect!

Thumb Technique
Submitted by Judson

Simply rub the penny hard with your thumb and the tarnish will come off.

Dremel Technique
Submitted by Evan

If you own a Dremel Tool With a wire brush attatchment, scrub the penny with it! The tarnish will come right off in seconds, without damaging the penny!

Power Drill Toothbrush Technique
Submitted by Maria

Pop the head off of an electric toothbrush and put it into a power drill. Wet the penny and put some Bartender's Friend (like Ajax - you can get it at the grocery store) on the penny. Use your new Power-scrubber to quickly take off all the tarnish. Bartender's Friend will clean & polish.

Steel Wire Brush Technique
Submitted by Fred

The best way to clean pennies is by using the steel wire brush wheel which is included as a bonus on most table mounted grinders. Get a "Vice Grip" or simular type locking plier and use it to secure the dirty penny while you hold the pliers as the rotating steel wire brush wheel is scrubbing away on it. I found it only takes about 10 seconds per side of the penny to clean it to such a bright shine that it looks like gold!

Very fast. No chemicals or liquids needed. One step from dirty to clean. Cleans even the "impossible" pennies such as black or green. Cheap, only the cost of running the electric motor. Even works on zinc pennies. Gets off all the tarnish and gunk, even inside the lettering and in all crevices.

Need moderate wrist and forearm strength. Somewhat abrasive to penny surface (Thats why it cleans so well) so would not recommend on already smashed pennies or valuable coins. Must observe safety as for all power tools. Need protective eye wear and possibly work gloves. Pliers will leave slight marks on edge of penny but they vanish when it is smashed. Leaves a small layer of "Coal Dust" on the work area. This is all the grime that was removed while cleaning.

Don't take a shortcut by using regular pliers else the penny might become a projectile and cause damage. Locking pliers must be firm enough to secure the penny while cleaning yet not so firm that it leaves large dents on the edge. Works best when slowly rotating the penny while cleaning. The penny may become momentarily hot while cleaning. Handle carefully. Do not clean the "Heads" side if want year to appear on back of smashed penny. Wear sunglasses while examining them after cleaning - no kidding!

Scrubbing BubblesTechnique
Submitted by Goi

It's very fast and easy. It's the bathroom cleaners magic. The cleaner in spray bottle you use to clean bath tub and shower curtain. No need expensive brand, just the regular or Walmart brand is fine. Just spray on pennies and soak them. Pennies get cleaned in less than a minute, even before all the bubble from spraying disappeared. If pennies is very dirty, you can also use a toothbrush to scrub it a little bit. You can use the
solution over and over until it gets really dirty. I also gave this tip to another collector, she's really impressed of how easy and fast it is. I hope you and the other collectors find this tip helpful.

Brasso / Drill Press Technique
Submitted by Ashraf

I use Brasso & a drillpress fitted with a polishing wheel. Makes quick work of shining those babies up.

Denture cleaning tablets
Submitted by Karen Marie, Oklahoma

Soak a pile of pennies in Polident. Shake the container every now and then to distribute the soak solution.
For even better pennies, soak overnight, rinse and repeat.


Skyline Chili
Submitted by Jeff Gardocki

If you happen to live by a Skyline Chili (or probably most grocery stores have it) their hot sauce will clean a penny brand new in a matter of seconds. Fastest and cleanest product I've seen.

Epsom Salt
Submitted by Dwayne Crown

I have been collecting pennies for a long time now and I decided to try something out to make the older and more used pennies look bran new. So I took some Epsom salt and put it in a small plastic glass then mixed it with warm water and put my pennies. Then let it I let it sit for about 5-10 min and wipe them off with a towel. Older pennies might need a second time around. I do this before I go out to press pennies that way mine are nice and shinny.

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