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Mention cleaning silver coins
to most dealers and you will get a strong reaction - "don't do
it". While I generally agree, in my opinion there can be
exceptions. Before you even think about cleaning any silver
coin, there some things you must take into consideration...
It is not uncommon for silver coins to have a value over and above the value of their silver content (intrinsic value). Cleaning a coin that is numismatically valuable can destroy that value thereby costing you tens or even hundreds of dollars (in rare cases, even more). If you are tempted to clean your silver coin(s) before finding out their potential value (based on scarcity, demand, condition, etc.) DON'T.
There are very few good reasons to clean your silver coins. But if you have common date silver coins in your personal collection that you would like to shine up, that shouldn't be a problem. If you have common date silver coins you want to present as gifts to friends, children or grandchildren, that is understandable. But if you plan on selling your coins and think shining them up a bit will get you a better price - it won't. Cleaning silver coins (also referred to as "whizzing") is definitely frowned on by most dealers and experienced investors.
To see a closeup of one of the worst whizzed coins I have ever come across, click on the picture at left. This coin was in a lot I purchased from a dealer some years ago. Some abrasive material was used to clean the coin which really messed it up. Do you suppose the guilty party bothered to find out its value before doing the dirty work? Most likely not. Here are the facts on this coin...
Morgan Silver Dollar-no mint mark (therefore produced
by the Philadelphia Mint)-total mintage 9,976,000.
This coin happens to be a common date silver coin and its value is limited to the silver content (.7650 for a circulated Morgan dollar) plus the current premium. If this had been an 1896 S, in VF condition its value would be three times that of the 1896 and cleaning would have probably destroyed that value. Source: The Red Book of US Coins-R.S.Yeoman
Some of the silver coins you see on this site have been cleaned (to better display them on this site) - most have not. All of the cleaned coins are common date silver coins - no key-date or numismatic coins in the bunch.
If you have done due diligence on the coin(s) you want to clean and decided to proceed, two different methods are described below.
The second coin selected for cleaning was
a 1944D Walking Liberty half-dollar. This 1944 Walker
was minted at the Denver mint with a mintage of 9,769,000. This is
a common date coin which, in circulated condition, contains
approximately .3575 troy ounces of silver. To
clean this coin, make a watery paste of baking soda and water in
a small container. Dip the entire coin in the paste, then rub
both sides with your thumb and index finger for a minute or so.
Rinse with water and wipe dry with a soft cloth. l repeated this
about three times to achieve the results you see above. The
baking soda is a little more abrasive than the silver polish but
the results were good considering all of the little crevices
around the image.
There you have two effective methods
of cleaning silver coins. Just remember to research the value of
any coin you wish to clean before going ahead or you may be
kicking yourself for ruining what could be a small windfall.