How do I clean antique currency?


Asking for a friend: this 1929 Great Crash rarity has “foxxing” a type of mold in the “rag” (cotton) paper stock. Many people say, don’t touch it, others say, someone must know how to clean them because the dealers sell clean currency.Chlorine bleach is caustic and leaves a slick residue. Dawn has too much blue food coloring in it. TIA

q how to clean antique currency
  11 answers
  • Gk Gk on Jan 17, 2020

    Here's two suggestions that I found. I would be very careful as it is probably pretty easy to ruin this and destroy any value that it might have. You can buy dish soap that has no coloring in it--look in the baby department at any local big box store. I don't know who you have been asking for your information about whether or not you should clean this currency. I would find an antique dealer who specializes in money and currency to ask. I don't think I would do anything until I knew for sure.

  • Beth Beth on Jan 17, 2020

    I second Gk's recommendation to ask an expert in antique currency. I used to work at an antique shop, and I know that with coins, cleaning them definitely reduced the value, and we could tell when they'd been cleaned.

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Jan 17, 2020

    I would suggest trying the sponge method on a newer bill to make sure that it works well. The dealer we have used suggested clear baby shampoo. It will remove oils and dirt without any bleach or coloring. Mix up warm soapy water and take a sponge, dampen with solution and gently apply from mid-bill to edge. Wear gloves while doing this to prevent additional issues. Repeat on the other side of the bill. Flip and do reverse side. So you are cleaning in 4 sections.

    I was trying to see the year but can't. Would you mind replying? Just for curiosity. I have a few silver certificate and coins from the 1880's forward. Not a serious collector but I've held onto them as I came across them.

    • See 1 previous
    • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Jan 17, 2020

      Thanks for sharing the information. I find bills more interesting than holding for their value. It's sad it has mold.

  • Annie Annie on Jan 17, 2020

    I agree with those who suggest talking to an expert in the field. Unless you're willing to take the chance of something going wrong. Have you got an estimate of its value?

    • Lifestyles Homes Lifestyles Homes on Jan 17, 2020

      Because it does not have a red star ⭐️ after the S/N it is not worth big money.

      The next indicator of value is which Fed Reserve Bank put their “guarantee on it”, this is Chicago.

      In its current moldy condition, it’s not worth a lot.

  • Talk to an expert. It would be a shame to ruin it.

  • Lifestyles Homes Lifestyles Homes on Jan 17, 2020

    Current currency can take being left in one’s jeans pocket and run through the washer & dryer-

    Not that my friend would do that! I’m just speaking to the quality of the rag paper & the inks.

    I’m wondering if Aqua-Tabs would work? It’s a “home use” version of a chlorine dioxide tablet that is used to fumigate a room for smoke damage and surface mold damage. Obviously one doesn’t leave it 12” away from the source.

  • Robyn Garner Robyn Garner on Jan 17, 2020

    Xerophilic fungi produce rust-colored spots. Often seen on the pages of old books or antique linens, these freckle like spots called 'foxing' are the result of a melanin type exudate, not rust. Oxidative bleaching with hydrogen peroxide may reduce the color but will further weaken the cloth or paper.

    There are things you can do yourself

    but - it the currency is valuable consult with a pro.

    • Lifestyles Homes Lifestyles Homes on Jan 17, 2020

      Excellent link, thanks.

      yes, not rust, but mold, as evidenced by the envelope in which it was stored.

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Dec 25, 2022

    There are shops that deal with money and currency, I would suggest you take it to more then 1 of these and get a consensus of opinion on it's value as is, and inquire if it would be worth it to clean it up and how to proceed.

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  • Mogie Mogie on Feb 10, 2023

    I would be worried that i would ruin this. For peace of mind and most likely a much better result take this to a pro.

  • Michelle Michelle on Feb 13, 2023

    Lemon joy