What Liquid Cleans Pennies the Best?

Children can observe how different liquids affect tarnished coins, learning that some cleaners work faster than others to restore them to their former condition.

Many kitchen items can help clean pennies, such as vinegar, pickle juice, lemon juice and coke. Unfortunately, certain cleaners may cause damage and devalue them further.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice contains low levels of acid that are perfect for cleaning pennies. While this process takes some time to work effectively, its use will be safe and will not damage the coin. Lemon is generally considered the acidic juice; other citrus options such as lime or orange will work equally as well; fruit juices with moderate citric acid concentration such as grape or cranberry may also work; any alkaline drinks such as apple or peach juice won’t have any impactful results and cannot effectively clean pennies.

As an easy and fast solution, simply place a penny in a bowl or cup of lemon juice and leave it to sit for five minutes before removing and rubbing with paper towel – the copper oxide coating should rub off, revealing shiny copper metal underneath! This method works particularly well on old pennies that have become dull.

Lemon juice and vinegar have also proven successful at cleaning pennies effectively, thanks to their salt and acetic acid components that dissolve copper oxide deposits, while citric acid found in ketchup or some fruit juices helps restore their original orange hue.

An exciting and educational experiment involves applying different kinds of juice to old pennies and watching what happens. Seek out combinations that create copper-colored coins. When done, remember to rinse off with water immediately so as to prevent further dulling of your penny!

Tomato Juice

As pennies are exposed to air, they become coated with copper oxide which gives them a dull brown, dirty appearance. Tarnish can be easily removed using a solution of low-level acid and table salt – lemon juice, vinegar, tomato juice, ketchup or Tabasco sauce are suitable acidic cleaners that will restore their shine – though older coins may take some extra time before seeing results from this method of cleaning.

Bar Keeper’s Friend, available at many hardware stores and online, can also help to give your pennies a thorough cleaning. Containing oxalic acid as an effective cleaning agent that can also work wonders with copper coins, simply wet the coins before applying oxalic acid with your fingertips and rubbing. Rinse and dry after each application for best results; any residue can be easily removed using damp cloths or paper towels.

Vinegar makes an effective cleaner for pennies and other metal objects due to its acidity; this allows it to dissolve the copper oxide coating on coins. You can find vinegar in most grocery store condiments aisles. Furthermore, vinegar has many other uses around the home such as washing windows or dishes.

For an effective vinegar penny cleaner, combine coins in a glass jar with enough vinegar to cover them and mix in 1 teaspoon of salt. Let sit for at least 5 minutes; check its appearance – if not shiny yet, let sit another 5 minutes more – rinse out and pat dry using a soft cloth.

Ketchup also contains acid, making it another effective means of cleaning pennies. Similar to vinegar and salt methods, however, with less rubbing required. Unfortunately this method may take longer and create unpleasant aromas in your kitchen – not ideal if your partner suddenly becomes upset!

Grape Juice

Today’s pennies may only have limited uses outside of coin collecting or playing penny bridge. While that is acceptable, some may appreciate having shiny pennies and want their copper pocket change cleaned regularly – this can be accomplished using many household products; grape juice is an especially powerful remedy as an acidic substance which will dissolve any copper oxide tarnish that might make your pennies appear dull and dirty.

To do this, place several pennies in a glass cup filled with grape juice and allow them to soak for five minutes. After this time is up, rinse off your pennies with warm water before patting them dry with a soft cloth; you should find that all tarnish and grime have been eliminated leaving behind coins with an appealing shine.

Another effective method for cleaning pennies with vinegar involves mixing a quarter cup of vinegar with 1 teaspoon of salt until completely dissolved in a glass jar. Once your penny has been submerged completely in this solution, let it sit in there for five minutes and remove.

Once time has expired, rinse and pat your penny dry with a soft cloth to restore its original shine. This method may work particularly well on older, tarnished coins that you wish to restore to their former lustre – though be mindful that this process may cause small damages and devalue coins significantly; hence it should only be used on coins you aren’t planning on selling or displaying publicly.

One final method can be effective at cleaning pennies: 100% pure acetone nail polish remover. However, as this substance can be toxic and hazardous to use properly with adequate ventilation – thus not recommended for collecting pennies as this method may reduce their value considerably.


Acetic acid in vinegar is what gives pennies their sheen. Over time, copper reacts with oxygen in the air to form dark chemicals known as copper oxides that dull down its shine. Vinegar’s acetic acid dissolves these oxides to keep copper looking its best! For this experiment you will require white vinegar and an non-corrosive container such as glass jar – though any suitable non-corrosive container would work just as well!

Once this solution has been prepared, add just enough white vinegar to submerge a penny beneath its surface. Mix a teaspoon of salt with the vinegar until dissolved before placing your coins in it for five to fifteen minutes of soaking time before carefully brushing off any residual oxidation with a toothbrush.

Rinse the pennies with water and dry them with a towel. If they still appear dull, repeat this process using more lemon juice or vinegar and salt until your coins reach a satisfactory level of brilliance and brightness – but be wary not to oversaturate their surface by over-doing it!

As well as vinegar and lemon juice, other acidic liquids such as pickle juice, grapefruit juice or even ketchup may work for preservation of fine patterns and indents on pennies if left submerged for prolonged periods. But note: some substances might prove too caustic to maintain delicate pennant details such as indentations on its face if left immersed for too long!

Or you could buy Bar Keeper’s Friend metal cleaner which will quickly clean copper items like pennies. This cleaning solution works on all copper items including silver and gold jewelry and can even be used on cookware or decorative pieces like pennies. However, we advise using such products if you do not plan to sell your pennies as collectors’ items as prolonged exposure may degrade or decrease their value over time.