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5 Ways to Clean Your Pennies

Kids Have Fun Cleaning Pennies

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4. Vinegar (or Lemon Juice) and Salt

This method will produce a very bright orangey copper color on your pennies. It does this by using the low levels of acids that are contained naturally in vinegar and lemon juice to remove the patina (brown oxidation) on the penny.

Start by adding a quarter cup of white vinegar, or lemon juice, into a cup or glass. Mix a teaspoon of salt into the liquid by stirring until it is dissolved. Place your pennies in the bottom of the cup or glass so that they are not stacked on top of each other. Wait about five minutes and check your pennies. If they are not as bright as you would like them, let them sit for another five minutes. It may take as much as fifteen minutes to achieve the color you desire. Remove the pennies from the solution and rinse under warm running water. Dry your pennies with a soft cloth. If you would like to add a little bit more shine to your pennies, do the "Bon Ami Cleanser or Baking Soda" method described below.

Materials needed:
  • Quarter cup of white vinegar (or lemon juice)
  • Teaspoon of salt
  • Spoon for stirring
  • Cup or glass (plastic or glass, but not metal)
  • Clean water
  • Soft dry cloth
Advantages:
  • Removes the brown oxidation and produces a bright colored copper penny
  • Can do more than one penny at a time
Disadvantages:
  • Liquids can spill and make a mess
  • Can take up to 15 minutes (not good for impatient children)

5. Bon Ami Cleanser or Baking Soda

For this final method you will use a commercially available cleanser called Bon Ami. If you can't find this exact brand name, you can substitute baking soda. In my experience, the name brand cleanser produces the best results.

This fun process begins by taking the powdered cleanser (or baking soda) and placing it in a small bowl or container. Start mixing small amounts of water into the powder until you have a paste like consistency. Pick up a small amount of the paste on your thumb and forefinger by dipping them into the container. While holding the penny with your other hand, rub the mixture onto the front and the back side of the penny at the same time. Using small circular motions produces the best results. Rinse the penny and your fingers under clean running water and dry with a soft cloth.

Materials needed:
  • 2 tablespoons Bon Ami cleanser (or baking soda)
  • Small bowl or container for mixing
  • Water
  • Soft dry cloth
Advantages:
  • Produces bright and shiny pennies
  • Kids love this one the best
Disadvantages:
  • Very messy
  • May have to go to the store
  • Small, physical, and repetitive motions (may be difficult for grandma or grandpa to help)

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