thatcoinguy's Blog

13 Nov 2021

The Unspoken Controversy

Collecting Tips | thatcoinguy

Cleaning coins. Most collectors will tell non-collectors a solid NO! But why? And what cleaning isn't so bad?

First of all, cleaning coins isn't just bad because it will ruin your fancy TPG slab. Using abrasives such as metal cleaners can physically take off a layer of metal, which obviously devalues the coin. They can also cause stretching on the coin which affects the grade IF it doesn't even come back as cleaned. If a TPG decides your coin is cleaned, they won't even grade it. They'll send it back in a bodybag (numismatic slang for slab without a grade) and there goes your money down the drain.

Polishing your coins is also a very bad idea. Collectors love a nice shiny coin, but they can, and will, tell if it is polished. I have seen multiple cleaned coins at even reputable coin dealer's tables, so stay informed and learn how to spot cleaned coins. Also, collectors are picky and want an example that has been untouched, rather than cleaned up.

So how can you get rid of dirt without harming the coin? In most instances, I would say don't even try it. But, as some of you might do it anyways, let me give you some helpful tips. First is that especially if you have a metal detected coin, warm water goes a long way. First use an artist's paintbrush to get the surface soil off, then run it over warm water to get any dirt that is still stuck. Then PAT it dry with a towel. If you rub it, you risk leaving hairline scratches that damage the coin.

Please. If a coin needs cleaning so much that you would clean it even after you have read this blog, it's probably not worth anything anyways.

Edit: I forgot to motion this originally, but NGC provides cleaning services in a non-destructive grade, there is no, “cleaned” on the label of a slab if you choose to send it in, and in some cases it raises the grade!

Keep collecting,



Level 6

No coining for me ; ) Really good blog!


Level 6

rule. 1: Don't clean your coins. Conservation is a bit pricey from NGC and PCGS. Thanks


Level 5

It’s the first thing I learned when I first entered the hobby and started collecting. I personally need more education on how to detect a coin that’s been cleaned. Some folks are very good at deceiving their practice, so beware. Thanks for sharing coinguy!


Level 7

There is only one way . Sam the educational director will tell you distilled water. Leave it in for a few days and pat dry. Yes a paint brush will leave hairline scratches. There is no safe way. Why clean them. People collect these because there very cheap. You said it yourself in the blog. So it comes down to this . Don't clean your coins.!! Send it to N.G.C. They are the pros in cleaning a coin . I sent one in and it didn't say cleaned on the label and the grade went up!


Level 5

Very good advice. It's surprising how many people mention cleaning coins that dont have experience. Cleaning, or improving a coin professionally has come a long way.


Level 5

Definitely. And I forgot to mention this in the blog, but NGC has a service where you can send it in and they will clean it up for you without damaging the coin.

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