Is there an easy way to make coins shiny?

I am NOT talking about doing this to any valuable coins, just the run of the mill ordinary quarters in common circulation.

See, I’m thinking of giving a ‘laundry kit’ to a girl who’ll be heading off to college, and it’ll include a Bag ‘o’ Quarters. And I thought it would be nice if they were bright and shiny.

But I don’t care enough to polish them individually or anything like that. So, is there something I can just soak them in, or maybe boil them in?

Why not visit your bank and get rolls of new coins?

I’m not a chemist, but how about a weak acid, like vinegar or lemon juice?

Depends on what they’re coated in. Sometimes they can be encrusted with material of biological origin, in which case lightly scrubbing them by hand in water with a bit of soap can make them shinier. Doesn’t have to be one at a time, just rubbing your hands against loads of them can also get the crud off.

Now, if they are rusted, that’s another story. Speaking of rust, I don’t know if my method would cause the quarters to rust.

Put them in a cloth bag with walnut shell media, and then put that in the dryer with a bunch of towels (to keep the noise down). They will come out sparkling!

I would agree with jasg - I don’t think of quarters as being particularly shiny even when new (unless proof coins). Pennies appear shiny - as you are used to seeing the oxidized. Quarters I think get a little duller than orig due to scratches, but they already have those I think straight from the mint.

You probably are going to need a little manual labor to get any dirt off - I would think toothpaste massaged in would work well - and polish a bit at the same time.

However - if you can get a new roll at your bank - that would be simplest…

Rinse and dry them, then place them into a plastic container with some mercury. Shake them around and they’ll all have a nice shiny coating. Caution, do not handle the coins after doing this.

Yeah, this works.
For around an hour.
Then, they will become as dull as lead.

This is by far the most reasonable solution. Most banks have brand-new rolls, fresh from the armored car. They may have customer-wrapped rolls as well, but if you explain why you want new quarters, they’ll surely help if they can, provided you’re an account holder.

I put mine in the washing machine (unintentionally) with my clothes. Works admirably but sometimes have to retrieve them from the fluff filter.

Doesn’t work so well for notes in a wallet.

Ah! I didn’t realize you could ask for brand-new from the mint rolls! The rolls I’ve gotten have always been a mixed bag of years/condition.

Definitely that is a ridiculously easy answer. Thanks!

Are you certain she can even use quarters in the laundry? As far as I’m aware most universities have converted to a debit-card system.


Hmmm. Something I’d better ask about, I guess.
Or just give her the coins anyway. She can always buy Cokes or chips or whatever from other vending machines.

In the good old days when dimes and quarters (and halves and dollars) were silver, we used to rub them with a bit of mercury (doubtless poisoning ourselves in the process). The resultant amalgams were bright and shiny, but it didn’t last long as it quickly wore off.

You could soak them in packets of Taco Bell hot sauce. Oh, wait, that is for pennies. Not sure it would work with quarters.



Its nickname “battery acid” is not that far off.

I once drove a canteen truck with a fountain - I set the cash box up at the end of the truck- by the fountain,
At end of day, a stray coin which had fallen in came out as shiny as a mint coin

you should put them in a bag with a huge $ sign on it.

Ex-teller here. Maybe things have changed, I was a teller in the early 90’s, but one roll of quarters looks like any other. Once in a while I would open a roll for my drawer and the whole thing would have new quarters in it, but it was rare and I was never able to tell just from looking at the two visible from the ends. They’re not marked any differently.

You could certainly try and see by calling, maybe they can specially request new quarters from the fed - I had a standing order for $500 bills for a certain customer. Never asked for whole rolls of new quarters - deliveries came in boxes that weighed some 20 pounds. On the same hand though, I worked for a huge downtown Chicago bank that was located a block from the fed and had palettes of cash delivered. Most banks outside city centers won’t have that kind of service or cash on hand. Hopefully you’re in or near a large city center. Certainly call and ask, it’s worth a try, just don’t get your hopes up.

Please come back to the thread and tell us if you were able to do that, I’m definitely curious!

Acid cleaning of metals tends to leave the surface bright but matt in my experience, as the acid etches the metal a bit.

Rock tumbler with hardwood chips or nut shells is probably the best way to get them actually bright and shiny. On a smaller scale, you could hot-glue them to a board and polish them all on one side at once with a proprietary metal polish.