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  • Writer's pictureSinar Saredah

How I cleaned money. A personal experience.

My Experience: The Quest for Clean Bills

During the pandemic, I became more aware of the germs we encounter daily, especially on money.

Handling cash for groceries, tipping delivery drivers, or even paying for coffee suddenly felt like a risky business.

Determined to find a way to keep my money clean, I embarked on a journey that led me to discover the best practices for sanitizing currency without damaging it.

Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Money

an ai image of cleaning supplies

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

To start, you'll need:

  • Mild dish soap

  • Warm water

  • Soft cloth or sponge

  • A bowl

  • Rubbing alcohol (optional)

  • Ziplock bags (for organization)

an closeup of a cleaning solution

Step 2: Prepare the Cleaning Solution

Fill a bowl with warm water and add a few drops of mild dish soap.

Stir the water gently to mix the soap without creating too many suds.

Avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach, as these can damage the bills based on my personal experience.

an closeup of money being dipped into a solution

Step 3: Test a Small Area

Before fully immersing any bills, test the cleaning solution on a small corner of a bill to ensure it doesn't cause any discoloration or damage.

If so, I'd normally discard the solution completely and make a new one with even milder chemical content.

This step is crucial for preserving the integrity of the currency.

closeup of money being washed

Step 4: Clean the Bills

  • Gently Wash: Submerge one bill at a time in the soapy water. Use a soft cloth or sponge to gently wipe both sides of the bill. Be careful not to scrub too hard to avoid tearing the paper.

  • Rinse: After cleaning, rinse the bill under lukewarm running water to remove any soap residue.

closeup of money being dried

Step 5: Dry the Bills

Lay the bills flat on a clean, dry towel and gently pat them dry. Avoid wringing or twisting the bills, as this can cause them to tear.

Allow them to air dry completely, ideally in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight, which can cause fading.

closeup of money being sanitized

Step 6: Optional Disinfection

For added peace of mind, you can use rubbing alcohol to disinfect the bills. Lightly dab a small amount of rubbing alcohol on a soft cloth and gently wipe the bills.

This step helps kill any lingering bacteria or viruses.

closeup of money being packed

Step 7: Organize and Store

Once the bills are completely dry, organize them in ziplock bags to keep them clean and protected. Store the bags in a cool, dry place to prevent any moisture damage.

Tips and Precautions

  • Avoid Heat: Never use a dryer or iron to dry bills, as heat can damage the paper and security features.

  • Handle with Care: Always handle wet bills gently to prevent tearing.

  • Use Clean Hands: Ensure your hands are clean before handling the bills to avoid transferring dirt and oils.

New insights on dirty money

The presence of these microbes won’t necessarily make you sick, however. “Certain subtypes of organisms are better or worse at infecting people,” says Emily Martin, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. “Organisms also grow better in certain specific environments. Just being on a surface doesn’t give it everything it needs.” - ABIGAIL ABRAMS

The composition of our banknotes is especially concerning—more so than that of our copper-laden coinage, which appears to be less hospitable to bacteria. U.S. notes, made from a blend of 75 percent cotton and 25 percent linen, may be more attractive to bacteria than other countries’ currency. - DINA FINE MARON


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