How To Clean a Penny

Dirty US pennies

If pennies are forming communities under your sofa cushions or in the bottom of your kids' pockets, it may be time to do something about it. Any mom who has ever emptied a child’s sticky pockets has likely come across some clumps of gooey and oxidized pennies.

Instead of throwing the mess out (since pennies can’t buy much anyway), save them by cleaning them. With a few basic household items, you can have clean pennies in a few moments.


Dirty pennies (sticky is optional)
2 tablespoons vinegar
1-2 teaspoons of salt
Empty cup
Paper towels

  1. Clean sticky pennies. If your pennies have just changed color to a dull brown, they have oxidized a little but you can skip this step and move straight to step two. If you are one of the lucky moms who has discovered a clump of pennies held together with lint and some sugary, sticky substance, hold the pennies under warm water for a few minutes and rub to separate the pennies and remove the sticky residue.
  2. Mix the cleaning solution. Combine the vinegar and salt into the empty cup and stir until the salt has dissolved.
  3. Place pennies into solution. This amount of solution can clean 2-3 pennies at a time. If you have more pennies in need of cleaning, consider making a larger batch of the solution. Place up to 3 pennies into the cup.
  4. Stir or swish pennies. Be sure that the pennies are fully immersed in the solution and stir to be sure they are not sticking together.
  5. Let solution sit. Depending upon the amount of oxidation, the pennies may take from 30 seconds to 5 minutes to clean. Let them sit in the solution.
  6. Remove pennies and wipe with paper towel. The pennies should be clean and ready to be used.

In a pinch, you can use common household items that contain both vinegar and salt (such as hot sauce or ketchup) to clean pennies. Just exchange the sauce for the cleaning solution and follow steps 3 through 5. Rinse with water, then dry with a paper towel.


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Interesting idea that could even prove to be rewarding.

By Zach Bauguess

Cute article -- and what a great lesson for kids. If they collect pennies, clean them, then roll them in $.50 papers, they will be amazed how fast they add up.

By Marion Cornett