Cleaning Coins – Don’t Do It!

Grandpa Joe casually collected coins many years ago. He put aside silver dollars, quarters, dimes and halves when he found them in pocket change.

Grandpa Joe lived a good life, but he’s gone now. He left you his casual coin collection, and you’ve decided to learn the value of the collection and determine if now is a good time to sell.

Well, you know when you want to sell something in a garage sale, on Craig’s List or if you want to sell a car or a house, it’s always best to clean and shine what you plan to sell. A clean, shiny object is easier to sell and brings more money. That’s got to be true for coins too, right?


Yes, old silver coins look dull, dingy and dirty, but making them clean and shiny will reduce their value significantly!

You’ve seen the pitchmen on those TV ads where they dip a coin in the cleaning solution and it comes out bright and shiny. That’s great for a TV ad but not great for increasing or even maintaining the value of the coins.

Most coin dealers have stories about people who brought them cleaned coins. First, cleaned coins hurt their coin collecting hearts. Second, coin dealers hate to break the news that the collection’s value was significantly reduced by the cleaning. Their horror stories include coins worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars being reduced to the melt value of their metal.

Again, you can compare coins to antiques. If you ever watch the Antiques Roadshow, perhaps you have seen the experts tell  people that their antique dresser, chest, desk or whatever lost significant value because someone had refinished it and replaced the hardware. You could see the heartbreak in the owners’ faces when they learned a piece worth many thousands as an antique was reduced to the value of an ordinary piece of furniture.

If you have old coins, don’t let the same heartbreak happen to you. Don’t clean your coins!