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How To Properly Clean Your Unearthed Treasure

How To Properly Clean Your Unearthed Treasure

Finding buried treasure can be an exhilarating experience. Unfortunately, most items don’t come out of the ground in pristine condition. Artifacts require time and attention to recover, especially if you want to do it right.

Excessive scrubbing or soaking in the wrong solution can result in damaged items. If you want to get your big find looking as good as possible, you’ll need a few tips to get started. Read on to learn more about how to properly clean your unearthed treasure.

Why Clean Unearthed Treasure?

You should clean buried treasure immediately if you want it to stay in good condition. Clay, lime, and other sediments can quickly ruin items if you don’t handle them correctly. Depending on the type of material, the object may erode faster if you fail to clean it.

While precious metals such as gold and silver can last much longer, other iron, copper, and bronze artifacts can experience staining and rusting. Cleaning up items can increase their value, especially if they’re rare or hard to find. If you find a cache that needs cleaning, it’s essential to do it right—otherwise, you risk damaging them, rendering them worthless.

Remove Dirt and Debris With a Brush

The first step to cleaning buried treasure is to remove excess dirt and debris. To start, use a cloth to rub the item off gently. If there’s still excessive material embedded in it, you can use a wool pad, wire brush, or toothbrush to remove it.

It’s important to be careful when cleaning older items. If you rub too hard or use overly rough bristles, you could cause damage, reducing the value of your find. Remember, the longer you leave the material stuck to your treasure, the harder it will be to clean later.

Soak the Item in a Cleaning Solution

If wiping or brushing your unearthed treasure isn’t enough to clean it, you can soak it in a solution to loosen it. Most people use a simple combination of soap and water. However, depending on your needs, you can also use other cleaning agents such as bleach, white vinegar, and peroxide.

Starting with a combination of warm water and dish soap will help minimize potential damage and costs. If this approach isn’t enough, you should consider the specific item, what it’s made of, and where it was buried before using a more robust solution. For example, you can soak old coins in vinegar to take advantage of its acid content.

Use a Paste if Necessary

Soaking may not be enough for some items. Consider using a paste for a deeper clean if your treasure still needs attention. Paste-based solutions have an inherent texture that can get into the tiny grooves and cracks of buried items, making it easier to rub out slight imperfections and blemishes.

While various general-purpose cleaning pastes are available to buy, many people make their own by combing cheap, easy-to-find ingredients. One common solution is a mixture of baking soda and water. Others use salt and lemon juice. Just remember that some household products and cleaners can damage your find.

Rinse the Items

The next step in the process is to rinse your treasure with cold water. This part is crucial if you use any chemicals or cleaning agents that might cause the items to degrade. However, you must be careful with items that easily rust to ensure you don’t damage them further.

You can put coins and other metal items in a bowl or cup filled with water and let them sit for up to a half hour. Remember to wash your hands before handling them to avoid contact with oils and dirt that may stick to your fingers. You can soak them again if necessary.

Dry Completely

Once you thoroughly clean your treasure, you should ensure it’s completely dry to prevent it from forming rust or corroding. While drying times might seem arbitrary, they can significantly impact the overall quality of your treasure. Some people add a bit of anti-tarnish polish to help give them a nice shine.

Pat the items dry with a towel or cloth, ensuring you go over everything evenly to remove all the excess moisture. You can also use a bin or box lined with newspaper to let the items air dry if you have a large collection to manage. Just be sure to space them apart enough so that they aren’t touching.


If you have old coins or metal items that are beyond cleaning, you can use a coin or rock tumbler to polish the edges and beat out excess dirt. This process is incredibly harsh and can damage your treasure, making it a last resort for items that are on their last leg.

Remember, many collectors prefer items that aren’t overly clean. Such processes devalue most types of treasure or render them worthless. While tumbling is fast and cost-effective, it is often not worthwhile.


Another invasive cleaning procedure that treasure hunters tend to avoid is electrolysis. By passing an electric current through the item, you can remove minor blemishes and bits of stuck-on dirt that would be otherwise impossible to get rid of.

Unfortunately, as with tumbling, electrolysis can result in the degradation of your treasure if you aren’t careful. Leaving your items in the machine for too long will wear away at the base material, causing noticeable fading and reducing its value. Using electrolysis in short increments can be helpful if other cleaning methods fail.

Other Methods

You can use many other cleaning methods, but the best one largely depends on the items you find and the condition they’re in. You can contact a professional cleaning service if you don’t want to do it yourself. However, this service will cost money, so you need to be sure it’s worth the cost.

For some people, cleaning buried treasure is a matter of history. Others have a sentimental attachment to the items. Once your items are clean, you can add a coating of wax or polish to help protect them from further wear.

Repeat As Needed

Getting your buried treasure as clean as you like may take more than a single pass. You may never get it back to its original condition, depending on how bad it is. If necessary, you can repeat the cleaning process. Remember that whenever you clean the items, you risk damaging them further.

Finding buried treasure requires the right equipment. If you’re looking for quality Garret metal detectors for sale, we’re happy to help. By learning how to properly clean your unearthed treasure, you’ll be able to make the most out of each find.

How To Properly Clean Your Unearthed Treasure

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