ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Cleaning Pennies Using Household Items

Updated on July 5, 2017

How to Clean Copper Pennies with Erasers, Taco Sauce, and Vinegar

Cleaning pennies is a surprisingly popular topic. It is an easy science fair project, and there are quite a number of ways that people have come up with over the years to clean pennies. On top of that, there is an almost endless supply of dirty pennies around to work with, and the cost is cheap to get more. It also seems like pennies start to look dirty sooner than the silver coins in circulation in the US.

Here is a look at a range of ways we have seen to clean pennies. Some of these I have not tried, so if you experiment, please leave a note at the bottom with your results.

Valuable Pennies

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you think you are working with a penny that has any value at all, STOP NOW, but please continue reading!

Ways to Clean Pennies

If you clean a vintage penny you will destroy any value that the penny has as a collectable. It will do no good to clean a valuable penny, so if in doubt get it assessed, or at least look it up in a coin price guide.

FYI, the pennies minted since 1982 are actually not copper pennies. The copper in pennies was getting to cost more than one cent, so the US Mint has switched to a compound of mostly zinc, with about a 2.5% copper content. Some of these cleaning approaches have some mild acid in them, which reacts more with the zinc than the copper pennies.

  • Pencil Eraser - One of the easiest methods to try, is to clean the penny by simply rubbing it with a pencil eraser. This is surprisingly effective, and with one of the tools that has a long thin eraser you can clean quite a few. Try a draftsman's motorized eraser that has the eraser material spinning like a little Dremel tool. If you are worried about the abrasives that are in many erasers, then try a vinyl eraser.
  • Vinegar and Salt - Make a mixture of one teaspoon of salt and one quarter cup of white vinegar, and let the pennies sit in it for just a few minutes. Of course the vinegar is a diluted form of acid, which in this case is the reactant, cleaning the pennies. A substitute of lemon juice also works for the acid in this mixture.
  • Taco Sauce and Ketchup - Straight from Taco Bell, these are closely related and are one of the most mentioned. Some have reported the same type of success with mustard. As it turns out, the main ingredient in these vinegar and salt, so it's just another version of the one above.

Science Fair Books on Amazon

Cleaning Pennies is a popular science fair project. Here is more information on science fairs

Cleaning Pennies with Condiments

Commercial Cleaners

This is the coward's way out: commercial products are stronger than many of the solutions above and so you need to take care, especially with zinc pennies. Make sure you don't use such a strong solution that damage will be done.

What's Your Favorite Way to Clean Pennies?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • tfsherman lm profile image

      tfsherman lm 

      5 years ago

      Very interesting. I could use this next summer in a summer reading program about lucky pennies, thanks!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Nice lens. I used to clean pennies with vinegar and baking soda, I do not like to put dirty coins in my purse.

    • JoanieMRuppel54 profile imageAUTHOR

      Joanie Ruppel 

      6 years ago from Keller, Texas

      @squid-pinkchic18: Thanks! Another activity we did with pennies was to empty out 3 old banks and count the money. We rolled it and brought it to the bank. I deposited the money in my kids savings accounts. We did find a few old and dirty pennies, too!

    • squid-pinkchic18 profile image


      6 years ago

      Neat lens! I could see this being a fun project to do with kids, and it'd definitely keep them busy :) Of course with adult supervision depending on what you're using to clean them.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)