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Cleaning Common Clad & Pennies can be simple
You always want to make sure (check and double-check) that you're only cleaning newer, modern coins and nothing that might have any potential numismatic value.

While I enjoy the search and recovery of the older, more dated and more interesting coins, tokens and similar smaller artifacts, the fact remains that just 'getting out detecting' is better than sitting around home. So, I find my share (and maybe a little of other's, too) of modern coins and I like to get this "flash money" clean and presentable for the bank, or just spending, without any embarassment.

Here are the steps I take to get coins the cleanest I can in the shortest amount of time, and with the least amount of effort from 're-dos' of stubborn stains.

A Lortone 2-barrel tumbler
Aquarium Gravel (I use the white synthetic type)
Dawn Dish Soap (I prefer it in the yellow version, but othert brands will do)
Cream of Tarter (optional, but I use it out of habbit)
Liquid Toilet Bowl Cleaner (I used to prefer 'Sno Bol' but now I just get the bargain $1 liquid from Dollar Tree, etc.)
Strainer & Gravel Catcher (I use a Garrett Gravity Trap gold panning set with the larger 14" pan and the 'Grizzly' because I had them)
Plastic Jar w/Lid (I use an empty peanut butter jar.)
'Flexible' Plastic Container (such as a soft-spread margarine type)
Terry Cloth Towel (I have a few I keep for such tasks when we get new towels)
Lytex Gloves (optional, but I recommend them)

#1.. Separate coins into three groups: Pennies, Nickels, and 'Clad' to include the clad dimes, quarters and occassional half. The Susan B. dollar coins go in with the 'clad,' while the Sacajawea dollars go in with the pennies.

#2.. Wash and rinse all coins to remove surface dirt, making sure all soap, etc., is rinsed from the coins.

#3.. Double check the pennies to make sure any dark, dirty dimes aren't among the numerous pennies.

NOTE: At this point I already know about how many coins I can put in a tumbler load. I started out years ago with a 'formula' that worked well of -cup (mounded meassuring cup) of coins per tumble. Now I just 'eyeball' what I measure into the tumbler, then add enough aquarium gravel to make it about two-thirds full, then cover with water (not fill, just cover), add dish soap & cream of tarter and tumble. Oh, I also do this coin cleaning where I have a set-tub or sink and try to do it all in one long cleaning session so as to clean up as I go.

#4.. I put one type of coin in a plastic bottle, about to full. DO NOT mix the types you sorted out!

#5.. Here's where you can start wearing the gloves I suggested. Squirt an ample amount of toilet bowl cleaner into the plastic jar. You DO NOT have to fill it up to cover the coins, just an ample amount of this liquid so that you can screw on the lid and then aggitate and tumble the coins in the jar so that they all get a good 'coating' of the toilet bowl cleaner.

#6.. I pour all the coins and toilet bowl cleaner into a flexible plastic container. Then, I 'pinch' the plastic container so that I can keep all the coins in it and pour as much of the used toilet bowl cleaner back into the plastic peanut butter jar. This liquid can be re-used a lot with all coin types!

#7.. Now, with all the coins and a little remaining toilet bowl cleaner in the plastic tub, rinse it all very thoroughly!. I wash and rinse coins in hot water, and stir them around while rinsing them off. I make sure ALL of them get well rinsed and ALL of the toilet bowl cleaner that was left with the coins gets rinsed away.

#8.. Note that at this point, many of the coins will appear to be quite spendable! It is best to continue with the process to ensure that all the 'TBC' and residue is cleaned from the coins! Put about -cup, mounded, coins into a tumbler.

#9.. Add aquarium gravel to NO MORE than 2/3 full, just cover the mixture with water, add ONLY A SMALL SQUIRT of dish soap, and then I add 1-teaspoon (level) of Cream of Tarter.

#10.. Put the lid on the container and tumble for 30-60 minutes. Yep, that's all it shoudl take. A half-hour to an hour!

#11.... With the strainer (Grizzly) in the catch container (14" gold pan) I pour out the tumbler of coins and gravel. I rinse it all well while 'stirring' it so that the aquarium gravel falls through into the gold pan, and all the coins are retained in the grizzly. Once I am sure all the aquarium gravel is separated from the coins, I rinse them with hot water. This helps increase the drying time.

#12.. Pour the rinsed coins onto the towel on a counter top and allow them to dry while you continue with the next batch of coins to be tumbled.

As I stated, you can re-use the Toilet Bowl Cleaner a number of times. This does an excellent job of ridding the clad coins, especially, of tarnish. A very, very low percentage of coins will look bad when you've completed this cleaning process.

Questions? Feel welcome to E-mail me at: I might be a few days behind in responding as I will be out of town until later Saturday or Sunday hunting some ghost towns and such.

Happy Hunting and Happy Cleaning,

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