How to Clean Your Challenge Coins

6 minute read

Published on: 10 Mar 2024

Last modified on: 29 Mar 2024

How to Clean Your Challenge Coins
Table of Contents

Are you a challenge coin collector? You may have started collecting challenge coins when someone supported your dedication to the safety and protection of the city.

Top Highlights

  • Why It's Important To Clean Your Challenge Coins
  • Various Cleaning Techniques To Clean Your Challenge Coins
  • How To Make Your Own Challenge Coin

Police Challenge Coins are a great way to support the 800,000 law enforcement officers who are working hard every day to make your home and community safer.  

No matter how you got started, collecting custom challenge coins is a fun and interesting pastime. It can help you find out more about your community and history, and just be part of a bigger community.

If you’re looking to be a long-term collector, you want to make sure your challenge coin is clean and sparkling. Keep on reading for a complete guide on how to clean your challenge coins.

how to clean your challenge coins

Should I Clean My Challenge Coins?

It depends. If you’re collecting old coins, then the value of the coins can be reduced if you clean them. But, if you’re collecting new custom Police Coins or Law Enforcement Coins, then it’s nice to keep them clean.

You can display your coins in different ways. With the spotlight shining on them, you may want to keep your coins clean and sparkling. They will attract attention and look their best.

How Do I Clean My Challenge Coins?

There are many different methods for cleaning your challenge coins. You can try each method and see if it works for you. 

Rinse With Cold Water

If your coins are just a bit dirty, then running them under cold water will do the job. You can simply wash away the dust and dirt. After you rinse it under cold water, simply pat them dry with a soft cloth.

You don’t want anything rough or abrasive that will ruin the intricate details of your custom challenge coins.

Wash in Warm and Soapy Water

Rinsing doesn’t always work to get rid of all that dirt. There are some thin crevices in your police challenge coins or law enforcement coins that can attract dirt over time. If simply rinsing it doesn’t work, then try washing the custom challenge coin in warm, soapy water.

Remember to use non-acidic or mild dish soap. Add some water and dish soap to a small plastic container. Sometimes clay and metal containers can scratch your coins, so a plastic container is always a good idea.

Wash your coins one at a time. Again, you want to make sure your coin doesn’t get scratched up.

Rub the challenge coin with your fingers and try to wash off the dirt.  

Soak in Distilled Water

Another way to get rid of dirt is to soak your challenge coin in distilled water. Distilled water is a type of purified water that is free of contaminants and minerals. This will ensure your coin isn’t contaminated or further damaged as it stays in the water.

Leave your challenge coin in the water for 24 hours. Make sure your challenge coins don’t touch each other. A large container or several small ones are best to soak them.

After 24 hours, the dirt on the coin should be loosened. All you need to do is brush the coin with a soft toothbrush to remove the loosened dirt. If this doesn’t get all the dirt, soak it again for another 24 hours.

You also don’t want to leave your challenge coin in the water for too long because that can lead to other damage. Set a reminder for yourself so you don’t forget.

Mix Baking Soda and Water

If you have some extra difficult dirt to take off, then consider a baking soda and water solution. Remember that this method is best for copper, silver, and brass challenge coins.

You want to make sure that the solution is liquid and not a paste. Otherwise, you can end up with baking soda paste getting stuck in your challenge coin, and then you have to start the cleaning process all over again.

Line a bowl with aluminum foil. Add 2 tablespoons of baking soda and boiling water. Place your coins in the bowl and make sure they’re not touching.

Take the coins out once the water has cooled down to room temperature. Just rinse the coins with cold water.

Soak in Olive Oil

Another way to clean old coins with caked-on dirt is to soak them in olive oil. Compared to water, it does a better job of loosening the dirt. Just leave the challenge coins in a bowl of olive oil for a couple of days.

Then take the coins out and wash them with warm, soapy water. The dirt should be easier to remove after soaking in olive oil for a couple of days.

Acetone or Isopropyl Alcohol Solution

If you need to tackle some tough dirt, you can consider using acetone or isopropyl alcohol solution. Some collectors prefer acetone, as isopropyl alcohol leaves a white film on challenge coins.

Acetone can help you remove grease and adhesive. It removes any soap, water, or other debris from the challenge coin.

Ask a Professional

If nothing you’re doing is working, then it’s time to get the help of a professional. They’ll be able to help you clean your coin without damaging it. They have better equipment to handle tricky dirt on your challenge coins. It’s the best option once you’ve tried all the options on your own.

challenge coin air force cleaning

Increase Your Challenge Coin Collection

Now you know how to keep your challenge coins clean and sparkly. You know how to take care of them so they will stay with you for a long-time to come. You also know that keeping your challenge coins clean can help you display them to your friends and colleagues with pride.

If you want to increase your challenge coin collection, then you can design your own custom challenge coin. Check out our website to get a free price quote for your design. It costs nothing to get a quote, and you might be surprised by the low price we can offer. Our price includes free artwork, revisions, free custom shapes, and free shipping.

Joshua Allen

Joshua is the newest member of the Custom Challenge Coins team, bringing with him a fresh perspective grounded in his SEO experience and his service in the armed forces. Beginning his journey with us earlier this year, Joshua is passionate about merging his military experiences with his interest in SEO and custom challenge coins. His writing reflects a blend of practical knowledge and enthusiasm for the subjects he covers. Outside of work, Joshua is keen on exploring technological innovations and contributing his unique insights to the Custom Challenge Coins community. If you have a story or a special coin order that you’d like to see featured, reach out to Joshua at

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