USMC Custom Coin

Your Guide to Cleaning Your Military Coins

How do you clean your military coins? Keeping your coins clean and polished may seem like a no-brainer, but there are certain tricks you can adopt for best results. Read this guide on cleaning custom challenge coins to ensure they are cleaned without sustaining any damage.

Keeping your military coins clean and polished may seem like a no-brainer, but how do you actually go about it? Among coin collectors, experts and numismatists, there’s a lot of confusion when it comes to cleaning metal coins.

Thankfully, there are many viable methods to polish your coins. Read this guide on cleaning your custom challenge coins to keep them shiny without damaging them.

Keep in mind that you can combine most of the techniques below to keep your coins perfectly clean.

1) Washing Your Coins

The most obvious method to keep your military coins clean is washing. But be warned that there are many ways you can do this wrong.

To wash your coins properly, first assess how dirty they are. If there is considerable dirt buildup, hold them under warm running water for half a minute on each side. Then let them dry on a towel. Do not rub them needlessly, as the dirt might scratch off their surface.

2) Distilled Water or Soap Water

Washing under running water can only get you this far. If there’s persistent gunk on your coins you will need something more drastic. After washing your coins, dip them in distilled water or a soap solution.

Distilled water is gentle and will remove most of the gunk without affecting the color. Simply soak your military coin for a full day in and distilled water. Dip each coin separately, so they are not touching each other. The next day, scrub the coin with a soft toothbrush and dip it again for another day if that’s not enough.

If the coin is greasy, create a soap solution with dish soap and warm water. Dip your coins individually and rub them inside the water with an old toothbrush. Be gentle and you will see the gunk slowly coming off.

You may also soak the coin in the soap solution. If you do that, make sure you are using a weak soap with no acidity. This will make sure your coins remain unharmed. With a regular dish soap solution, most coins will be sparkling and clean after a single dip. If your coin is particularly dirty, rinse and repeat.

3) The Olive Oil Method

Collectors of ancient coins and other very delicate metals use olive oil to clean their possessions. Olive oil can loosen accumulated dirt, making it easier for you to remove it without damaging the coin underneath.

The process is slow and only suitable for the dirtiest of coins. Allow your coins to soak in olive oil for a week or more. During that time, change the oil if it becomes discolored, as it means it has been saturated with dirt.

Some ancient coins require six months or more in oil to be properly cleaned. Your military coin will be fine in a matter of days though. After soaking, take the coin out and gently clean it with dish soap and water.

4) Removing Adhesive Dirt

Sometimes glue, cement or some other extremely adhesive substance may stick on your coin. This is bad news but not irreversible. To remove such stubborn dirt, you will need to physically pry it off your coin with a toothbrush or a skewer. This is risky business but sometimes unavoidable.

Before resorting to physical methods, try soaking the coin in olive oil to soften up the dirt. This will make it easier to remove it without damaging the coin underneath.

5) Isopropyl Alcohol Bath

Dipping your coins in water and soap will remove grease. You will need different solutions if soap is ineffective.

Isopropyl alcohol is a mildly acidic universal solvent. In low concentration, it will dissolve built-up dirt. To make an isopropyl alcohol bath, mix it in equal parts with water. Let your coin soak in the solution for at least two hours before rinsing them with plenty of water.

6) Abrasive Solution

If you need to scrub off tough dirt, you can add a bit of salt to your isopropyl alcohol solution. A couple of tablespoons of table salt will make your solution abrasive enough to remove built-up dirt.

Place your coins in the mix and let them soak for a couple of hours before rubbing them with a soft toothbrush, just like the soap and water method. The added salt will create friction and peel off the gunk.

7) Water Softener

If you’ve left your military coins submerged in water for far too long, they may have accumulated salts and minerals on their surface. You can’t remove salts with soap, and an abrasive solution might peel off color in addition to the buildup.

Using dishwasher products like Calgon to create a “soft” water solution will allow you to remove salt buildup without physical force. Keep in mind that you should dip your coin in a Calgon solution for only a couple of minutes. Anything more and you might damage its outer layer.

8) Professional Help

Finally, if your military coin is very valuable, you should consider handing things over to a professional. A coin expert will be more qualified to clean your coin and prevent damage.

There are several chemical-based methods that are too complicated or dangerous for a layperson to attempt. We did not cover these in our guide, but an expert could be able to perform them on your coins.

Looking for More Military Coins? Check Our Gallery for Inspiration

Now that you know how to clean and protect your military coins, why don’t you take a look at our inspirational gallery?

Here at Custom Challenge Coins, we offer you limitless possibilities when it comes to designing your own challenge coins. From traditional squad badges to more exotic designs, we guarantee 100% satisfaction at the lowest price!