Money laundering is definitely bad, but there’s really no harm in cleaning your money. It can be easy and fun to do, and it can improve the appearance of that clear piggy bank.
Before You Start
Before you even think about cleaning your money, take a thought as to whether that coin you’re looking at may be a collector’s item. People can make big bucks from selling old money, but only if it’s in a certain condition. If you’re planning on saving your paper money or coins as an investment, it’s not a good idea to clean them. This could hurt their value in the future by scratching the surface or removing the outer coating from the mint.
It’s best to leave this money as you found it unless there is something truly repellant on them, such as you dropped them in a pile of cow manure. But that would probably reduce the value anyway. If absolutely have to have it cleaned, consult a professional. Your local hobby shop should be able to give you some names.
How to Clean Paper Money
Unfortunately, there is really no good way to clean paper money. You can try soap and water, but it doesn’t do much to penetrate the surface of the bill. You can always run your paper money through the washing machine in your pants pocket, and then let it air dry.
Other than that, just keep your money in your wallet and out of the dirt. And if you have a really gross dollar bill you don’t want to look at anymore, you can spend it and pawn it off on someone else or trade it in for a crisp new one at the bank.
How to Clean Coins
There are basically two ways you can go about cleaning your (not valuable) coins. You can wash them and/or you can dip them. If you want to simply wash the coins, these are the supplies you’ll need:
- Dish soap (the kind for hand-washing)
- A rag or dish towel
- Tap water and/or distilled water
- A Small bowl
Prepare the bath
If your coin is only slightly dirty, or the dirt isn’t deeply set in, you can simply rinse it off in lukewarm water. If the dirt is more set on than that, run hot water in the sink or boil it in a pan on the stove. Then take about a cup of this water and fill the small bowl. You should use the hottest water possible to clean your coin, but use caution when running it so that you don’t burn your hands. Next, add about a teaspoon of dish soap and mix it with the water until it is becomes fairly uniform solution.
Submerge the coin
After you’ve got the bath ready, take your coin and place it in the soapy water. Let it soak for a couple of minutes. If you’re soaking more than one coin at a time be careful that you don’t scratch the coins already in the solution as you put more in. Do not stack them up in the water and make sure they don’t touch each other. If you’re worried about this, you can always wash each coin separately.
Lightly buff the coin
If after a few minutes of leaving your coin in the water bath it still has dirt on it, first, try moving it around in the water vigorously and seeing if that shakes it off. If that doesn’t work, you can use your fingers to rub the coin gently, but do not try to pick the dirt off of the coin with your fingernail. You could risk scratching it that way. Also, hold the coin by the edges, never by the face.
Soak the coin further if needed
If your coin still isn’t clean, you can try soaking it in a tablespoon of olive oil, though it may take quite a while: days, weeks or years, even (no exaggeration), for the oil to remove the particles that are ground into the coin. Just put the coin and the oil in a sealed container and let it work its magic over time.
If you don’t have that kind of time to wait or just lack the patience, try using rubbing alcohol instead. Pour about a half a cup of the alcohol into the bowl and leave the coin submerged in it for five to ten minutes. Then follow the instructions below to rinse it off.
Rinse the coin
Once you’ve gotten the coin clean, you can rinse it under the faucet. But if you want to prevent hard water deposits or spots on your coin, rinse it in distilled water instead. Just pour about a cup of it into a bowl and dunk the coin in the water for a few seconds, making sure to get all the soap off of it.
Dry the coin
To dry your coin, place it on a paper towel or dish towel and let it air dry. If you’re too impatient or need the coin right away, you can dab it with the towel to dry it. Don’t forcefully rub the coin dry or you risk scratching its surface. If you hadn’t figured it out by now, they scratch very easily!
Dipping your coins
If your coin is clean but you want it to be shinier, you can dip it in a jewelry cleaner. (Again, do not do this if you plan on selling your coins later!) After a very short soak, a couple minutes, in the solution, you should be satisfied with the improvement in the appearance of your coin.
And remember: Think it may be worth more than a dollar? Don’t clean it!
Feel free to share any other ideas you may have on cleaning paper money.
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