Should I clean a Buffalo Nickel ?

A frequently asked question is "Should I clean a Buffalo Nickel, what will happen to it, and how do I do it?"

First of all it's not a good idea to buy a cleaned coin and definitely not a coin that has been polished. Once any chemical has been applied to a coin, the chemical reaction, although slow and almost undetectable can change the coin in the future. It can become stained, eroded, pitted, rusted, brittle, change color and sometimes become very dark.

True the coin becomes more attractive, but keep in mind that the person selling the coin may have cleaned or polished it to make it more attractive.

On rare occasions it may be necessary to clean a coin because it may be covered in tar, oil or been painted with nail polish.

MS70 may work reasonably well on gold and silver, but it doesn't look right on copper and copper-nickel coins. I wouldn't use it in any but the most extreme cases where there's nothing to lose.

Keep in mind that recent policies of the Coin Grading Services state that they will not grade a cleaned coin. Check with the grading service first if you are having them grade a coin.


In the above examples, the coin on the left appears to be in much better condition than the coin on the right. The coin on the left has been cleaned and polished to make it more attractive and drive up the value for resale.

The coin on the right is actually a better grade than the one on the left.

look at the hair on the shoulder of the Buffalo, most of the hair is worn off the coin on the left. Don't be discouraged. If you already bought a cleaned coin, and/or polished coin - keep it. All Buffalo nickels are valuable to the holder