Souvenir Pressed Pennies – Cleaning Guide

Souvenir-Pressed-PenniesOne of my favorite (and the cheapest) souvenirs that we collect are Pressed Pennies. We get them everywhere we go, whether its at Disney World, the zoo, or the Smithsonian, we love collecting them. Normally we start collecting the shiniest pennies a few weeks before we are about to go somewhere, however on our latest trip to Washington, DC, we noticed that our pennies would come out with a streak in them. NOT COOL!!! I did some research and discovered that any penny that was minted after 1982 contains a zinc core with only the outside shell of the penny being copper. IMG_6795

We are about a month away from our May Disney trip, so I decided to go through our piggy bank and pull out all the pennies that were minted before 1982 and boy, were they ugly. However, after researching different cleaning methods, I decided to try 5 of them to see which way I liked the best and what was the quickest and easiest!

Please note that all methods listed below only apply for pennies that were minted before 1982.

Method 1: Coca-Cola

Share a Coke with Friends!
Coca-Cola

This method is super easy but takes a while!

Step One:

Gather your pennies and place them into a container where they are not touching.

Pennies
Pennies before their Coke bath

Step Two:

Pour a layer of Coca-Cola (or any generic Coke brand) over the pennies. Let them sit for 4-5 hours while the Coke performs its magic!

Pouring Coke
Add some Coke to your pennies
Submerged pennies
Add just enough to submerge them
3 hours later
Pennies after 3 hours of sitting in the Coke

Step Three:

Scrub them with a toothbrush to remove any leftover residue. Rinse them in the sink with warm water and dry them off.

Scrub
Scrub with a toothbrush
Rinse and dry
Rinse with warm water and dry completely
Complete
After 5 hours of soaking, these pennies are looking shiny again!
Before and After
Before and After

Method 2: Vinegar and Salt

Vinegar and Salt
Vinegar and Salt

(Note, you can also use Lemon or Orange Juice as a substitute for the vinegar)

Step One:

Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 cup of vinegar into the bowl. Stir well to ensure the salt has dissolved. (For lots of pennies, you can use 1 Tablespoon of salt and 1/2 cup of vinegar) Smells nice, doesn’t it?

salt and vinegar
1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 cup of vinegar
Stir it up
Stir until the salt is dissolved

Step Two:

Add your pennies and be sure those babies aren’t touching each other. The transformation happens quickly, it’s pretty cool to watch. Let them sit in this solution for about 5 minutes.

It's a miracle!
After about 15 seconds in the solution they looked like this. Amazing.

Step Three:

Scrub them with a toothbrush and run them under some warm water. Be sure to dry them completely or they will be ruined!

Scrub a dub
Scrub your pennies!
Rinse and repeat
Rinse in warm water and dry them completely
Vinegar and salt
Like new again!
PhototasticCollage-2015-08-05-17-00-38
Not a great picture, but you get the idea!

Method Three: Ketchup

Ketchup
Any Ketchup will do

Prepare to get messy.

Step One:

Pour some ketchup into a container. Add pennies while trying not to let them touch each other. Let sit for 3 minutes.

Mistakes
I didn’t do it right and I had to drop them back in when I realized the underside wasn’t clean. Ketchup first, then add pennies!
3 minutes
Let them soak up that Ketchup for 3 minutes

Step Two:

Go fishing for your pennies and scrub them clean with a toothbrush.

Look at that mess
Scrub your pennies! Look at that mess.

Step Three:

Rinse them in warm water and dry them well.

Rinse away that Ketchup
Rinse in warm water
IMG_6837 [16764]
That one still has a “fungus” on it. I couldn’t get it off. I consider that a lost cause and will return it to the piggy bank. Otherwise, the Ketchup worked well!
Before and After
Before and After

Method Four: Tabasco Sauce

Spicy
Tabasco Sauce

This one is also messy.

Step One:

Place your pennies into a container so they are not touching each other. Add a layer of Tabasco so it covers them completely. Let sit for 3 minutes.

Shake shake shake
Shaking out the Tabasco Sauce
3 minutes
Let them sit for 3 minutes

Step Two:

Grab those suckers out and scrub them with a toothbrush.

IMG_6847 [18671]
Scrubbing with a toothbrush. Careful, Tabasco will fly everywhere!
Step Three:

(Can you guess what comes next?) Rinse them with warm water and dry them completely!

IMG_6796 [27260]
Rinse with warm water and dry completely
Like new
Shiny and “new” again!
Before and After
Before and After

Method Five: Bar Keepers Friend

Bar Keepers Friend
Bar Keepers Friend

We have some that we use for our Stainless Steel appliances, sink, and pots (I actually used it after I finished this to remove the rust ring in my sink) and if you have anything metal in your kitchen, this stuff works really well, I get mine at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Step One:

Place your pennies into the container so they do not touch each other. Add a layer of Bar Keepers Friend (be sure to shake well!) Let them sit for 5 minutes.

Shake it up
Add a layer of your Bar Keepers Friend, don’t forget to shake well!
5 minutes
Let it sit for 5 minutes

Step Two:

Scrub the pennies with a toothbrush. This part really makes a difference here, Bar Keepers Friend works miracles only if you are willing to put in some elbow grease.

Put your back into it
Scrub those pennies like you mean it!

Step Three:

Rinse in warm water and dry the pennies completely.

Rinse
Rinse the residue away in warm water and dry completely
YAY
Ready to get pressed into something Disney related!
PhototasticCollage-2015-08-05-17-02-16
Before and After

In conclusion:

The easiest method is either the Vinegar and Salt or the Coke method. The Bar Keeper’s Friend gives them the best shine, but you really do have to scrub them a lot to get the gunk off. The Ketchup and Tabasco work well, they are just the messiest, so if you don’t want to get too messy, skip these. Salt and Vinegar is definitely the quickest method, so I have determined that for me personally, I will continue to use the Salt and Vinegar trick to clean all our old pennies before our vacations!

 

Purchase Disney Pressed Penny Albums before your trip:

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