How to Shine Pennies

Pennies are made from copper and are bright and shiny when they're first minted. However, over time, the copper oxidizes and the penny becomes dull and brown. There are a number of ways to remove the oxidized layer and make pennies shine like new.

Things You'll Need

  • White vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • Ketchup
  • Salt
  • Paper cups
  • Paper towels


    • 1

      Soak the penny in a mild acid such as white vinegar or lemon juice. A carbonated beverage can work also. After a few minutes, remove the penny and wipe it dry with a paper towel.

    • 2

      Rub the penny with ketchup, toothpaste, a paste of baking soda and water or brass cleaner. You can use an old toothbrush or your fingers for rubbing.

    • 3

      Add salt to white vinegar to shine pennies that have a lot of oxidation. This mixture won't make a paste, but you can use the edge of a paper towel or washcloth to rub the vinegar and salt on the penny.

    • 4

      Buy a commercial product to shine your pennies. These products are usually harsher than household products, and you will have to wear protective gloves and protect your work surface.

    • 5

      Use a pencil eraser to rub the oxidized layer from the penny.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are shining pennies before pressing them in a machine, only use those that were minted before 1982. Newer pennies contain zinc, which might show through after pressing.
  • Shiny pennies make great gifts for young children.
  • Never shine old or valuable coins because this will destroy or diminish their value.
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