Removing Milk Spots from Silver Coins | How to Clean Silver Spots

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Wondering how to clean silver coins? When it comes to silver coins cleaning, many ask us here at Bullion Exchanges "how do you clean silver coins?" Milk spots are those obnoxious, thin, white marks that arise on reflective silver coins caused by the annealing process. When a coin is manufactured, one of the final processes that it goes through is annealing, a system of baking and cooling the coin in order to prevent the silver from becoming brittle. Unfortunately, during this process borax can be left behind on the surface of the coin and end up baked into it. Milk spots do not reduce the value of your coin, but they can have a negative impact on the premium over spot price. Aside from that, they reduce the visual appeal of the coin, which on beautiful releases such as the Canadian Maple Leaf or the Austrian Philharmonic, is a definite blow for collectors.

Milk Spot Myths:

  • Milk spots are caused by overhandling of your coin

  • They are scuff marks or scratches resulting from improper storage or packaging

  • Milk spots are similar to tarnish and are caused via air exposure

  • They can be removed by scrubbing, scraping, or scouring your coin

  • They will grow and change if left alone

For years, collectors were confused and frustrated by milk spots on their carefully cared for and beloved coins. It was unclear how or why they showed up on valuable, otherwise spotless coins. This confusion led to the rise of certain myths, like that milk spots were caused by handling, scratching, or air exposure. Even only ten years ago, it was said that there was nothing to be done for the spots without causing irreversible damage, and many numismatists were left with these unsightly spots on their precious investments. Here, we’ve compiled a list of three methods available to you for the removal of milk spots from your reflective silver coins.

  1. Cloudy Ammonia:

Cloudy ammonia is a natural, biodegradable product that is easily found and cheaply bought, however, be warned that it carries a very strong, very unpleasant smell. In order to remove a milk spot, soak a cotton ball in this liquid and gently wipe the affected area of your coin. As an added bonus, this method will also remove oil and dirt buildup from the surface of the coin.   

  1. Jewelry Wipes:

Jewelry wipes can be found at most drugstores and often even at your local grocery store. Before undertaking this method, be sure to clean the surface of your coin of dirt, so that the small particles do not grind against the silver as you clean it. Simply wipe the coin with the cloth and watch the blemishes lift immediately. Be aware that even if you ensure that both the wipe and the coin are clean, this method will still leave behind small abrasions on the surface of your coin. These will only be obvious to someone looking specifically for them, however, and they are certainly less obvious and more preferable to the unsightly milk spots.

  1. Erasers:

Perhaps the most surprising method, a normal, everyday rubber eraser can also remove milk spots! Your best choice is a brand new, very soft eraser. Again, ensure that both the coin and eraser are clean or you will end up with a scratched coin! Then, simply erase the milk spots just as you would erase a mistake made in pencil.

Following all three of these methods could result in your coins looking visually appealing for a longer period of time. You'll never have to wonder again how to clean silver coins. For other questions on silver coins cleaning or how do you clean silver coins, feel free to message our friendly staff! Remember to only wash your coin in warm, soapy water and then dab it dry with a clean, soft towel. Store your coin somewhere safe where it is protected from possible damage from the air or curious visitors. For more information on best practices for caring for your beautiful collectibles, check out our Learning Center.