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Science project: Fastest Way to Clean Pennies


Q. I am a twelve year old girl and I am doing this project for our school Science Fair . I would like to use this as an addition to my poster as added research. Which juice cleans pennies the best? I have done the experiment with lemon juice, cranberry juice, white grape, and apple juice. Apple was far and above the best. I learned that acid levels have nothing to do with getting the pennies the cleanest or cleaning them the fastest.


Sha-Aute' P. [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Youngstown, Ohio

A. What are you talking about -- lemon juice works the best.

Joseph L. [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Fitchburg, Massachusetts

A. I am cleaning juices with pennies and I have got lemon as my answer.

tamia s [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
school - Chicago, Illinois

A. I think vinegar [in bulk on eBay or Amazon] will clean best though you don't have it in the list

Claire M [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Bossier, Louisiana
December 4, 2008

thumbs up signHi Claire. You may be right, but vinegar is not a fruit juice (it is a fermented product), and Sha-Aute seems to want to consider only fruit juices.


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

A. I think lemon juice will work better because it has citric acid [on eBay or Amazon] and because of its sourness.

Tamya [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Surrey, Washington
January 25, 2009

A. I tried lemon, apple, tomato, orange and grape juice and my findings were that grape juice cleaned the best. But when we investigated further, we added salt to the lemon juice and within 5 minutes the oxidation was gone and the penny was much shinier.

Tyler R [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Goode, Virginia
April 14, 2009

A. Well, my name is Chyna and I did this very same experiment but with hot-sauce and that for me worked the best.

Chyna A [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Riverdale, Georgia
October 26, 2009

October 26, 2009

thumbs up signHi, students. Juices that are most acidic will probably work best because you are dissolving the tarnish into the acid. Although most juices don't have much salt in them, an addition of salt is very powerful at dissolving corrosion products.

I would be very curious about the apple juice that Sha-Auté used and the grape juice that Tyler used. Did you by any chance look at the ingredients list and see if sodium or salt were added to those juices?

We have an FAQ: What Cleans Pennies Best that should answer all of your questions about this project, and help you do the experiment well. Good luck!


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

A. I am only ten years old and lime juices clean pennies better . . .

Jahlynn h [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
student - chicago, Illinois
November 22, 2009

A. Well I am doing this project now, and I find that pickle juice cleans the pennies very well. I think it has something to do with the vinegar and salt in the pickle juice. I also used Orange juice and Apple. Orange juice being another choice and there again the acid in the oranges play a big role in cleaning the pennies.

Cameron S [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Brandon, Florida
December 14, 2010

A. I think that white vinegar cleans it the best because I'm using that for this year's science fair but I wasn't sure so I looked up more things I can use; so I will use lime juice and maybe hot sauce; also I might try red vinegar.

Ronia C.
- New York
December 8, 2011

A. Hey I am doing a project like that and I know you are doing mostly fruit juices but I used lemon juice, coke, hot sauce, vinegar, and coffee. I did a long term investigation and I found that coffee and coke worked the best.

Sage Payer
- Melbourne,Florida, USA
February 14, 2016

Hydrogen Peroxide

on eBay or


(affil links)

A. Hi, I've used vinegar and peroxide on almost every metal with excellent results without harming the metal (if not left on solution beyond the needed time.) I've put pennies found in the ground that were so dirty you couldn't even tell it was a penny much less see the date. I've put silver and other fine jewelry in this solution and it cleans very well; in fact most jewelers use this solution because it's both acidic enough to clean but general enough to not damage ... whereas lemon and salt are both rough on silver especially :)

Shanna. Davis
Refurbishing& sales - PRICE, utah, United States
April 10, 2018

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