How to Clean Paper Money

You can remove some dirt and stains from money if you are careful.
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United States paper money is composed of 75 percent cotton and 25 percent linen rather than wood pulp. This makes the currency relatively strong and durable, so you can clean it if you are careful. You should not attempt to clean collectible bills, however, as this may reduce their value.


Currency Cleaning Steps

Avoid trying to clean currency when the paper is very worn or brittle as you will cause more damage. Place a bill on a flat surface on top of a clean sheet of paper. Swap out the paper for another clean sheet when you turn the bill over to clean the other side. Hold the bill in place with one hand and use a soft brush to remove dirt. Start at the center of the bill and brush outward. If the money is still soiled, repeat this process using a dry, natural rubber sponge. To remove pencil marks or additional grime, use a plastic eraser like those found on mechanical pencils. Use the eraser only when the bill itself is in good shape as the eraser can easily damage worn material. When a bill is stained, use alcohol or a spray of soap and water on the spots. Remove the cleaning solution with clean water. Note that this method tends to cause discoloration or fading. Dry the bill by pressing it between two sheets of paper, such as a book.

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