Should you ever clean old coins?  We share 5 reasons why we don’t think so.

“I have some old coins that I want to clean before I bring them into your shop…..can you recommend what products I should use to clean them with?”   This is a question we routinely get asked; our answer is always “DON’T DO IT!!”   We then proceed to share some of the reasons why they should not clean their coins.   In this blog post we wanted to share those same reasons with you.

1. When you attempt to clean dirt or tarnish off the coin, you are more than likely going to cause further damage to the surface of the coin; especially if you are using a product that is abrasive.


2.   The abrasive product can leave scratches or hairlines on the coin, as well as destroy the luster of the coin; in many cases a coin that has lost its luster will rarely be worth more than half its original uncleaned value.

3. When a coin is cleaned, it takes on an unnatural color. Numismatists can spot a coin that has been unprofessionally cleaned.

4. While you may think that toning (or tarnishing) of the coin may be detrimental to the coin, it is in fact quite common among silver coins.  The toning is a natural reaction of the silver molecules interacting with the elements in the environment.   Upon further inspection of the coin with a magnifier, though there is toning, the surface of the coin is still intact.  In some cases, depending on the coloring of the toning, it can be quite beautiful and even enhance the value of the coin.

Toning on a coin is common

5. Cleaned coins are considered “problem” coins and again if you are looking to sell them, it will lower the value.

Now if you are scratching your head, and thinking “But I have heard on Antiques Roadshow that a cleaner coin would have fetched a higher price.”   Cleaning coins is acceptable under certain conditions, especially if you see a green residue start to form on the surface of a coin.  This damage is due to polyvinyl chloride, (PVC).


This green residue is a sign that the metals in the coin are having a reaction to plastic.  This type of damage cannot be ignored, because it will get progressively worse. Though in this case the coin needs to be cleaned, it needs to be cleaned by a professional coin cleaning service.

Trying to repair this type of PVC damage on your own can cause a couple of events to occur.

  • Chances are good you will further damage your coin
  • The chemicals that you will be using to remove the PVC are dangerous to handle and can be flammable.

Our suggestion?  Bring your coins to us…..dirty or not!  We can see their  beauty and determine their value in spite of their dirt and grime.   To get more information on our locations, and  hours, give us a call at 847-348-6447 or visit our website at


PGS Gold & Coin’s mission is to provide our customers with “Fair Market Value” in exchange for any unwanted Rare Coins, Platinum, Gold, Silver, Diamond, Jewelry and Collectables! We strive to deliver the highest quality of customer service each and every day. PGS Gold & Coin is locally owned & family operated since 2008. PGS has become one of the most professional and trusted Rare Coin, and Precious Metals Dealers in the area. We are a Certified Coin Dealer by PCGS (Professional Coin Grading Service), NGC( Numismatic Guaranty Corporation), and PMG (Paper Money Grading). We are a proud sponsor of the ANA (American Numismatic Association) and have a BBB (Better Business Bureau) A+ rating.

clean old coins, 5 Great Reasons NOT to Clean Old Coins
clean old coins, 5 Great Reasons NOT to Clean Old Coins
clean old coins, 5 Great Reasons NOT to Clean Old Coins
Main Office: 830 W. Northwest Highway, Suite 7, Palatine, Illinois 60067, USA •  Tel: (847) 348-6447  •  Email: [email protected]

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