Cleaning Military Coins: A Practical Guide

8 minute read

Published on: 29 May 2018

Last modified on: 18 Mar 2024

Guide to cleaning Military Coins
Table of Contents

Essentials of Coin Cleaning: How To Clean Challenge Coins

How to clean coins effectively while preserving their historical and sentimental value requires a careful approach. This guide outlines essential techniques for maintaining the pristine condition of your military coins, ensuring they continue to symbolize honor and tradition without sustaining damage.

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.

Cleaning Military Challenge Coins
Military Challenge Coins

Basic Cleaning Steps for Military Coins

Discover the initial steps for gently cleaning your military coin. This section provides insights into assessing dirt levels and executing a soft wash to avoid surface damage. The first step in cleaning coins is a simple yet gentle wash. Assess the level of dirt and hold the coin under lukewarm running water, avoiding harsh scrubbing to prevent surface damage. 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.

Advanced Cleaning: Using Distilled Water and Soap Wash

Learn how distilled water or a mild soap solution can effectively remove stubborn dirt from military coins, detailing the nuances of these methods to ensure your coins remain unharmed. Washing under running water can only get you this far. If there's persistent gunk on your antiquities you will need something stronger. For more persistent dirt on military coins, distilled water or a mild soap solution is recommended.

Soak the coins separately in distilled water for a day, gently scrubbing with a soft toothbrush if needed. Distilled water is gentle and will remove most of the gunk without affecting the color. 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.

For greasy coins, a weak, non-acidic soap solution is effective. 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. 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.

The Art of Coin Maintenance: Navy Coin Cleaning Techniques

In the time-honored practice of Navy coin maintenance, it's vital to know the exact composition of your challenge coins for proper care. This ancient art involves more than just cleaning; it requires a deep understanding of the materials to ensure that each coin is treated with the respect and precision it deserves. Whether your coin is made of brass, nickel, or even silver, each type demands a unique approach, ensuring your treasured tokens remain in pristine condition, reflecting the rich naval heritage they embody.

For painted or enameled coins, a gentle wipe with a soft cloth and distilled water is advisable, avoiding harsh chemicals that can damage the surface. Antique-finished coins benefit from a mild soapy solution, using a soft-bristled brush for gentle scrubbing. It's important to regularly maintain your coins, storing them in a cool, dry place, preferably in acid-free holders or display cases to protect them from environmental factors. If you own particularly valuable or rare coins, seeking advice from a coin expert or professional conservator can ensure their preservation. Adhering to these Navy coin cleaning techniques safeguards the coin's integrity and honors the legacy it represents.

Traditional Olive Oil Cleaning Method

Explore the traditional olive oil technique for cleaning deeply soiled military coins. This segment explains the slow and gentle process, which can loosen accumulated dirt for easier removal. Olive oil is an age-old technique particularly effective for cleaning coins with deep-set dirt. This gentle method requires soaking the coins in olive oil, sometimes for several days, and then cleaning them with a mild soap solution. 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. After soaking, take the coin out and gently clean it with dish soap and water.

Handling Adhesive Residue on Coins

For military coins affected by adhesive substances, this part offers guidance on safely removing such stubborn residues without harming the coin's surface. 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.

Isopropyl Alcohol for Tough Grime Removal

Understand how a diluted isopropyl alcohol solution can help dissolve more challenging grime on military coins, balancing effectiveness and remove dirt. When standard cleaning methods don’t work, a diluted isopropyl alcohol solution can be used for cleaning coins. This method helps dissolve tougher grime without harsh chemicals.

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 to remove tarnish.

Using Abrasive Solutions For Cleaning Coins Carefully

When faced with stubborn dirt, learn how to create and use an abrasive solution to clean your military coins without causing damage. 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.

Effective Washing Methods for Preserving Coins

When washing coins, the key is to be as gentle as possible to preserve their intricate designs and historical value. Start by lightly rinsing the coins with lukewarm water to remove surface dust. For more thorough cleaning, prepare a mild soap solution, ensuring it's non-acidic to avoid any damage.

Submerge the coins one at a time, gently agitating the water with your fingers or a soft brush to loosen any stubborn dirt. It's crucial to avoid using hard brushes or abrasive materials, as these can scratch and degrade the coin's surface. After washing, rinse the coins with clean water and pat them dry with a soft, lint-free cloth, taking care not to rub the surface harshly.

This method helps maintain the coin's integrity, ensuring they continue to be a proud representation of military achievement and heritage.

Water Softeners in Coin Cleaning

This section discusses using water softeners like Calgon to remove mineral deposits from military coins, outlining the careful application to prevent damage. If you've left your 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 cleaning solution might peel off color in addition to the buildup.

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

Cleaning Military Challenge Coins

Professional Cleaning for Valuable Medals

For highly prized or delicate military medals, find out why and when it's best to seek the expertise of professional medal cleaners. If your military medal 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. For highly valuable or delicate coins, professional cleaning is recommended. Experts in coin preservation/cleaner can apply advanced cleaning methods that are beyond general advice.

Final Advice on Clean Coins

We emphasize the importance of careful and effective cleaning methods to maintain the integrity and beauty of military coins. A coin clean requires a balance of careful handling and effective techniques. By following these expert tips, you can ensure your military coins are cleaned safely and effectively, maintaining their beauty and historical significance

About Our Coin Crafting Expertise: Perfecting the Wash and Finish

Here at Custom Challenge Coins, we offer you limitless possibilities when it comes to designing your own challenge coins. We have been producing challenge coins since 2003. From traditional squad badges to more exotic designs, we guarantee 100% satisfaction at the lowest price!

Jack Thompson

Jack Thompson was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After retiring from the military, Jack moved to Austin, Texas, to start a new chapter in his life. He has always been passionate about storytelling and decided to become a writer and podcaster. He runs a successful podcast where he discusses military history, shares personal anecdotes, and interviews other veterans. Jack also writes often about military traditions and history.

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