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Does Cleaning a Coin Hurt its Value?

Coins in hands, under a water faucet.

Will This Gold Eagle Lose Value if I Clean it?

Maybe you’ve found an old coin and it could be valuable, but it looks dirty. Would you try to clean it?

Don’t wash away the value of your coin!

Cleaning coins can cause irreversible damage to the coin’s surface and significantly reduce its value.

The consensus among coin experts and numismatists is never to try to clean a coin yourself. Cleaning your coin can reduce both its value and grade. It is recommended for collectors to store their coins and rounds in a way that preserves the condition over time.

Ensure your collection is stored away from moisture and heat, in an area protected from direct sunlight.

Why You Should Never Try to Clean a Coin

Chemical Reactions Associated with Cleaning can Damage Coins

Some chemical cleaning solutions can cause a reaction with the metal of your coin on the coin’s surface. These can be difficult to remove entirely and can cause damage to the surface of your coin.

Abrasive chemicals like baking soda, toothpaste, and acids can wear away the metal’s surface layer and destroy a coin’s luster.

Cleaning Coins can Damage to the Surface Layer of a Coin

Silver and gold are soft materials that scratch easily. Cleaning involves vigorous scrubbing, which literally changes the surface of a coin as it removes tiny bits of metal from the surface.

This causes irreparable damage to coins. Even if the scratches left on the coin are not apparent, a skilled appraiser will pick up on the scratches and hairlines. Skilled appraisers know to look for them.

Coins are engraved with very small, minuscule details; the condition of those details is where coins derive much of their value. If these details have been scratched, scrubbed, and been subject to corrosive chemicals, they will not be in the same condition they were in before.

Why You Should Never Clean an Old Coin

This is doubly true for older and more valuable coins. This is because cleaning your coin can reduce its patina and tone. Patina refers to the toning and coloration that develop on a coin’s surface.

This occurs as a reaction of the metal in your coin with oxygen, moisture and other elements in the environment. This is doubly true because of the beauty and value toning can add to a coin and the risk posed by harsh chemicals, residues, and scrubbers.

How Should I Remove Foreign Material from My Coin?

If you have a particularly valuable coin that you think is in need of cleaning, and a your best option is to utilize the NCS Conservation or PCGS Restoration services.

One instance a coin must be cleaned is when PVC contamination occurs. This forms as green residue on a coin’s surface from PVC off-gassing. It will not stop spreading until the coin is cleaned destroyed, even if it’s removed from the offending holder.

PVC damage does not stop there. If the contaminated coin is stored with other coins, they can supply feed material for the PCV contamination to spread like a virus.


Yes, cleaning your coin can strip it of its value.

A toned coin tells a story and takes you on a journey through history.

Don’t erase your coin’s story.

Quick Guides to Investing

Step 1:

Why Buy Physical Gold and Silver?

If you are concerned about the volatility of the stock market, you’re not alone. The extreme highs and lows of the stock market often lead investors towards safe-haven assets, like bullion. Historically, the Precious Metals market has an inverse relationship with the stock market, meaning that when stocks are up, bullion is down and vice versa.

Step 2:

How Much Gold and Silver Should You Have?

This question is one of the most important for investors to answer. After all, experts suggest limits on how much of any types of investments should go into a portfolio. After deciding to purchase and own Precious Metals and considering how much money to allocate, one can then think about how much and what to buy at any point in time.

Step 3:

Which Precious Metals Should I Buy?

With the frequent changes in the market and countless Precious Metal products available, choosing investments can be difficult. Some want Gold or Silver coins, rounds or bars while others want products that are valuable because of their design, mintage or other collectible qualities. Also, collectors may shop for unique sets and individual pieces for their collections.

Step 4:

When to Buy Gold & Silver

After considering why, how much, and what Precious Metals products to buy, an investor’s next step is when to buy them. This decision requires an understanding of market trends and the impact of economic factors on precious metal prices.

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