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How do you efficiently clean your LEGOs?

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How do you efficiently clean your LEGOs?

Postby Sir Prog » Wed Sep 29, 2010 11:33 pm

Ok, so many of us have LEGO sets dating back to our childhood. Personally, my original LEGOs have tried their darndest to survive numerous moves, storages, and elongated displays. Over time, (just like any medieval castle) the exterior of LEGOs can show some serious fatigue. Now while the paint jobs and shapes never necessarily change form, a lot of dust and muck can accumulate. Myself, I have several sets that sat built on shelves for years collecting dust. So my key question here is, how do clean your LEGOs? Is there a fast and/or general process that doesn't endanger the LEGO itself? This is not a question of how to avoid dirtiness, rather, a question of restoration for those classic castles, etc. :)
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Re: How do you efficiently clean your LEGOs?

Postby elondisc » Thu Sep 30, 2010 12:28 am

Great question. I had a lot of mine sorted and in plastic containers but also had about half of them sitting in an old computer box for 10 years or so. When I got them out there was mold, rat poop, etc. on some of them. I put them in the sink and used dish soap on them. No bad effects yet. Just gently scrubbed in warm water.
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Re: How do you efficiently clean your LEGOs?

Postby OverLoad » Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:20 am

I clean most of my LEGO, usually by means of either hand soap or Clorox wipes, depending on the amount of pieces in question.
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Re: How do you efficiently clean your LEGOs?

Postby Rick-Ricks » Thu Sep 30, 2010 3:10 am

When I get used bulk lots I like filling the bathtub up and putting a few tablespoons of dish soap in and letting them soak for a while. I then scoop them out and lay them out in between two beach towels to dry.
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Re: How do you efficiently clean your LEGOs?

Postby Sir Prog » Thu Sep 30, 2010 3:44 am

Wow, great replies! So for those of you who soaked them, there were no problems regarding paint coming off or fading away?
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Re: How do you efficiently clean your LEGOs?

Postby architect » Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:57 am

Sir Prog wrote:Wow, great replies! So for those of you who soaked them, there were no problems regarding paint coming off or fading away?


Certain old printed elements should be carefully washed. This includes early lion knight torsos and spacemen. The original gold and silver printing wears off extremely easily.

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Re: How do you efficiently clean your LEGOs?

Postby nanuck95 » Thu Sep 30, 2010 11:40 am

I've purchased several sets that were really dusty before and I found that just using warm water and an old soft toothbrush works really well. It's tedious, but it gets all the spaces between the studs (kind of like your teeth in the toothbrush commercials) pretty clean.
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Re: How do you efficiently clean your LEGOs?

Postby Memsochet » Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:38 pm

nanuck95 wrote:I've purchased several sets that were really dusty before and I found that just using warm water and an old soft toothbrush works really well. It's tedious, but it gets all the spaces between the studs (kind of like your teeth in the toothbrush commercials) pretty clean.


I did the same thing, except with a scrub brush. I got a bunch of black plates that were covered in dust, plus the ones I previously owned. I filled the sink with warm water, added soap and let them sit overnight. Then I used the scrub brush to get the dust out between the studs and placed them in my dishwasher to dry.
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Re: How do you efficiently clean your LEGOs?

Postby porschecm2 » Thu Sep 30, 2010 7:24 pm

I generally use a large container filled with warm water, with a bit of dish-soap added. For normal dirtiness, I just stir them around a bit, and then fish them out with a colander, and spread them on a large towel to dry. Recently, however, I acquired a large lot of Lego from a smoker's home, and all the pieces thoroughly reeked. I used the same method, but let the pieces sit for almost 24 hours in the soapy water. When I rinsed and dried them, they only very, very faintly retained the smoky smell--unnoticeable if you're not looking for it. For extra dirty pieces, an old toothbrush works well, or if you're being very picky, a q-tip.
In the past, for extremely dirty lots, I've even added a small amount of bleach to the water, and noticed no adverse effects.
I make sure to thoroughly sift through my pieces before soaking them, though, to make certain that there are no stickered pieces or cloth in the batch. Recently, however, I discovered that I'd accidentally left a stickered wing to a Jedi Starfighter in the lot that I soaked for 24 hours. Remarkably, it appears to be no worse for the wear. The sticker was not wrinkled, and it still adhered well. I wouldn't recommend testing that out, though. Due to my nitpickiness, I also remove any large transparent pieces and all printed pieces, and wash those separately and more carefully, so as not to unnecessarily scratch them.
I've also heard that people have gotten good results putting the Lego into a cloth baggie and placing it on the top rack of a dishwasher, for the cycle. Having not tried this personally though, I can't attest to the merits of this method.
Whatever you do, though, don't put them in the clothes washing machine (or the dryer!)

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Re: How do you efficiently clean your LEGOs?

Postby KarenJ » Sat Oct 02, 2010 4:49 am

OK. One very important thing, no matter how you clean them (gentle please) : DO NOT take wet Lego elements and shake the water off them with your arm!

LOL It happened to me. I bought a several-hundred-pound lot from a complete idiot on ebay. It arrived with a caboose from the 70's with old rotted batteries that had leaked into the entire lot. I spent a month washing them in warm (110*) water and mild dish detergent, shaking the extra water off vigorously, and laying them out on a large towel to dry thoroughly. Worked great until I tore my rotator cuff shaking out thousands of Legos. Out for a month. Couldn't even pick up a cup of coffee or get dressed.
The Legos were fine though- warm water, mild dish detergent (nothing harsh, like dishwasher detergent), soft brush, and lots of drying space.

On my current displays, I use air from an air compressor to blow off dust and a fine make-up brush to get the nooks and crannies. The make-up brush (a "blush" brush) works the best. So all you guys need to do is consult with your girlfriends!
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Re: How do you efficiently clean your LEGOs?

Postby Storm » Sun Oct 03, 2010 2:52 am

This isn't really about cleaning, just a cautionary story:
When I was trying to do a Brickfilm, I put some tape on an old chrome knife. When I took the tape off, it had peeled away some of the chrome paint, leaving a cloudy white knife in its place. I now have to re-paint the knife. :(
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Re: How do you efficiently clean your LEGOs?

Postby KarenJ » Sun Oct 03, 2010 3:14 am

Storm, I have a lot of those where the chrome wore off. Never would have thought of re-painting. Oh the things I've thrown away... :(
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Re: How do you efficiently clean your LEGOs?

Postby pijani » Wed Oct 06, 2010 1:45 pm

Another advice that I've learned the hard way, ad a kid in a tub outdoors: I've loved playing with Lego in the water, making subs etc. And, being a kid, when I've finished playing I've left bricks in the water on the sun. Hours later many of them were the formed so much that they could not be used again. And I am talking about sturdy 2x1, 2x2 and 2x4 bricks :)
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Also white and blue bricks faded, changing color notably.
But it was not many bricks and I've learned my lesson. From then, the biggest problem that I have is dust, because building of the MOC can go for months, and I do not like to cover it, because I enjoy looking at it :)

Take care of the sunlight from the window; sun is circling, and if you build a MOC during the afternoon, in the morning, when you are at the school/work sunlight could go directly on the MOC without you realizing it (happened to me :)
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Re: How do you efficiently clean your LEGOs?

Postby eilonwy77 » Wed Oct 06, 2010 3:13 pm

I've washed lots of DUPLO bricks in the dishwasher, and they have come out fine. I'll put them in a mesh bag, or just stick them in the silverware containers. One time I wondered if they had come out a little bit worse for the wear, but I kind of suspect that they were not that great when I got them at the yard sale, and I just hadn't noticed. All the other times they came out fine, so I think it was probably just a bad batch going in.

I haven't ever really had to clean my little LEGO bricks, though.
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Re: How do you efficiently clean your LEGOs?

Postby Bluesecrets » Wed Oct 06, 2010 8:29 pm

I can tell you NOT to put them in a lingerie bag and then load them into your clothes washing machine. That is a HUGE mistake. Its BAD BAD BAD. It doesn't work..and I think it eventually kills your clothes washer. Nope..stick to the dishwasher and the lingerie bag if you are going to do anything like that. (And although I can not prove this was the cause..I did have to buy a new washing machine less than a year after attempting that horrible experiment.) Just say NO!
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