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Cleaning Lego

edited January 2012 in Collecting
I would imagine that a fair number of collectors out there pick up used sets that have a significant layer of dust coating them and want to clean them up for re-sale. Does anyone have some tips or tricks to do this quickly and avoid damage to the bricks? I use a tooth brush and soapy water and then rinse them in a strainer, but this is rather labor intensive and drying I have not quite perfected yet. I have tried putting them in socks tied at the top in the clothes dryer, but I have noticed some scratching on a few bricks, but not sure if the scratches were there before I dried them or not.
kimiko2339
«1345

Comments

  • @Rainsrorm26 - I met with Lego's 'Global Customer Service Manager' over Christmas. Not that I have followed through with her suggestion, but she assured me a safe and most effective way of cleaning them was indeed a sock but inside the dishwasher instead. I questioned the heat but she said he nominal 50-60 degrees was fine and was only UV that damaged the bricks.
  • Although having said that, my kids earn their pocket with a toothbrush, soapy water and a strainer. Is that legal?
  • I've not been motivated enough to properly clean any 2nd-hand bought sets yet, one of the reasons I buy mostly MISB is so that I don't have to. However, I'm tempted to give the technique described @flump6523 a try, especially since it's LEGO approved!
  • A toothbrush can badly scratch Lego, unless you're very gentle with it. Unless the dust has stuck, I usually use an airbrush & compressor, which I happen to have to hand ;-)
  • edited March 2011
    Just swish the parts around in warm water in a bucket mixed with a bit of washing up liquid (sometimes need to use a brush on larger plates if the LEGO is REALLY filthy), then rinse a couple of times, and leave to dry naturally (takes a few hours outside in the warm, or a few days inside). And that's it. I've never needed to do anything more drastic - the dirt seems to slide off. I've regrettably had to wash a fair few dirt-encrusted sets I've bought from eBay and I find it utterly tedious - people are absolutely gross.

    The other solution ? Well, just buying MISB is in theory the best way around this problem...... EXCEPT that I sometimes then can't bear to actually open MISB sets, thus defeating the whole point of buying them in the first place. So in some ways I kind of prefer buying second hand. Apologies if that sounds absolutely insane.
    legofanfromleeds
  • I think I'm the same @drdavewatford. I don't have close to as many sets as you guys but when you consider how much I've spent in just a couple of years...and a lot of them are sealed. My wife thinks I'm nuts, but it's reassuring to know I'm just a small fish...a very small one!

    When we visited Lego's HO in Slough (uk) over Christmas, my eldest son grassed me up to the CSM telling her "they're not allowed to play with Dad's sets" and "had sets that hadn't even been opened". I felt extremely awkward and didn't really know what to say except "Ah, well, it's like this......what's that Joe, you need the toilet?" I'm desperate to build some of my sets but knowing how their value has rocketed recently, I'm having a lot of trouble in justifying breaking the seal. When you consider you'd lose a couple of hundred quid just for breaking the seal of a UCS MF - it's a hard thing to swallow. Stupid thing is I've bought for me and in the future the kids. They are not an investment unless I intended to sell, so why is it so hard?

    When my kids have cleaned for me, it has in fact been a 2 inch paint brush they've used to wipe the bricks and not a toothbrush as previously stated. It was for the same scratching reason mentioned above we picked a paintbrush over a toothbrush. And to avoid water marks whilst drying, they get tumbled in a strainer lined with kitchen towel to remove the water drops. Sad?
  • They are not an investment unless I intended to sell, so why is it so hard?
    I think you, @drdavewatford, myself and probably countless others all suffer from this same state of mind. Over half my sets are now MISB and I'm reluctant to open them but yet I have no intention of selling. Maybe there's a psychologist amongst us who can shed some light ;o)
  • edited March 2011
    I think I'm the same @drdavewatford. I don't have close to as many sets as you guys but when you consider how much I've spent in just a couple of years...and a lot of them are sealed. My wife thinks I'm nuts, but it's reassuring to know I'm just a small fish...a very small one!
    I'm a small fish too, but my family (especially females:-)) don't agree!
    When we visited Lego's HO in Slough (uk) over Christmas, my eldest son grassed me up to the CSM telling her "they're not allowed to play with Dad's sets" and "had sets that hadn't even been opened". I felt extremely awkward and didn't really know what to say except "Ah, well, it's like this......what's that Joe, you need the toilet?"
    Why should you be embarrassed to admit that to someone who is obviously interested in Lego?
  • @Matthew - My obssession for Lego is seen to ANY non-collector as absolutely barmey. My work colleagues don't get it and have a dig on a daily basis. I work in a fairly strict, quiet and traditional office environment. And then there's me with a UCS MF as my wallpaper ane whom walks into a legal meeting clutching a Lego Yoda ballpoint - it's comfy! My wife cannot for the life her understand what the hell I'm doing. She's kind of accepted it but only because she can see the values either hold or rise and the money isn't totally all the way down the drain (it's retrievable if I got knocked down next week). Bear in mind I only collect the larger sets. A sure fast way for me to wind her up is to reveal to her how many more times than the amount I paid one just sold on Ebay for. "WELL SELL IT! It's not worth that unless you SEEL IT." Nope.

    The whole reason we were at Lego was because they messed up a Christmas order for the kids. They invited me and the kids to their office for a couple of hours to play with their 2010/2011 sets. As well as their 'storage room', they have an area where every set is made up ready to assist their customer service department when taking a difficult call relating to a specific set. I went along with the 'it's for the kids you know' approach until my eldest (five) revealed that Daddy was the closet enthusiast and had dozens of sets not even open and Mummy's not happy!
  • My work colleagues don't get it and have a dig on a daily basis.
    Mine too!

  • This is like a release for me to be able speak openly about 'dusting Lego'.
  • We've barely scratched the surface of topics to be discussed yet!
  • ... barely scratched the surface ...
    ^ I see what you did there ;-)
  • Am really grateful for this forum and look forward on a daily basis to what others have got to say. However, am very conscious of how easy it is to go off-topic. I daren't post on other sites through fear of being shouted at by other members. It's kinda comforting the forum being restricted to 100 people at the moment, but I'll hopefully learn the ettiquette by the time it goes live. Just a suggestion but it might be worth allowing a single topic for 'open conversation' - just to let the topic go where it flows without some other impatient member having a go for talking about blue bricks when we should have been discussing green! :p
  • HuwHuw
    edited March 2011
    Don't worry about drifting off topic, just go where the conversation takes you :-)

    At the moment we have around 25 non-staff members which is a little less than I expected to join, but maybe most invitees were kids.

    There's a nice vibe in here at the moment, isn't there...
    The whole reason we were at Lego was because they messed up a Christmas order for the kids.
    That was a nice gesture, not many companies would do that, would they?

  • I think it's great in here. In the few days I've been participating, I've managed to get a feel for the staff that have been posting regularly - you're a great bunch.

    Lego have the best customer service department I've ever encountered in a company. It was a big surprise to be invited to wonder round their office and play with the kit with my kids. You're probably aware of this already, but the Slough office is home to the Rest of the World Customer Service - the States have their own. It was fascinating to see all of the different nationalities of people with small flags taped to the side of their monitor indicating what their home language was - although most spoke two or three. The only languages they openly confessed they didn't cater for was Chinese and Japanese. If service was required, they would have to write in so Lego could get it translated before reponding.

    Remember a week or two ago on the Brickset site where we were discussing how Lego appear to be providing a cardboard sleeve when packing the sticker sheets and instruction books to improve customer service? Contrary to how everybody else felt,knowing how good the service was, I was happy to receive a slightly mashed copy in the box and claim a licensed replacement. That way I'd have one to keep and one to apply.

    Just remembered. The kids were given a Lego business card to keep in contact and send in pictures of their builds. It's in the form of a minifig. How cool is that?

  • The whole reason we were at Lego was because they messed up a Christmas order for the kids. They invited me and the kids to their office for a couple of hours to play with their 2010/2011 sets. As well as their 'storage room', they have an area where every set is made up ready to assist their customer service department when taking a difficult call relating to a specific set. I went along with the 'it's for the kids you know' approach until my eldest (five) revealed that Daddy was the closet enthusiast and had dozens of sets not even open and Mummy's not happy!
    Hope I'm not being too nosy, but in what way messed it up?
  • edited March 2011
    Not nosey at all.

    Running up to Christmas, the only delivery option available was the Express type and I had yet to place the order. From memory, I think Express is generally 3 days or so. I made a call to Lego asking whether or not this would arrive in time for Christmas and they said yes. It was something like the 19th or 20th December. Come the 23rd, the package had yet to be depatched by Lego and subsequently wasn't going to arrive in time for the 25th. Lego were extremely apologetic and so not being too far way suggested we came down for a play. The customer service assistant that took my call was very very good. She even offered to raid their 'emergency store room' and personally deliver the items on the 24th to my home address on her way home to make sure they were received for Christmas.

    Lego's customer service is second to none.
  • I usually dump any dirty piece into a bin and then wash them by hand at the sink with a toothbrush and dish soap, which takes forever, but ensures clean parts..
    I will say that I have used WD-40 when removing sticker residue or paint and it works pretty good, some elbow grease is required at times, but overall it takes most of that off. Then I wash it with soapy water to remove the WD-40 residue..(it also seems to restore the color in older parts, but maybe that is just me)
    I also use a dishwasher for cleaning my base plates, which works fairly well but be careful of the green base plates with grey paint for the roadway, those seem to be REALLY susceptible to washing the grey off, and causing 'dark spots' on the plates.

    BUT I want to know what is the best method of cleaning large amounts of parts quickly, or at least being somewhat less labor intensive. I have heard of ultrasound cleaners, Washing machine, etc.
    Cause I am tired of standing over my sink cleaning and getting pruned fingers and a bad case of 'Lego back'

    Also how do you go about drying all of those parts? stick them into a dryer? (I have bad images of parts breaking free and rattling everywhere dinging up my dryer in my apartment) Air dry them on a towel? Which is what I do...
  • edited April 2011
    Also, while the buy MISB is an ok concept for new sets, I am not about to go pay for a MISB 6383 Public work center or a 6393 Big Rig Truck Stop, nor are many people. So I will need to resort to cleaning lego lots for the time being.
    That, and like someone noted above.. People can be REALLY gross with their stuff...
  • @ madforlegos I use one of those salad spinners to dry my Lego. After you're done cleaning and rinsing just fill the salad spinner with clean, wet Legos and give them 50 pushes with the button and all the water comes off and falls to the bottom. Take out the Legos and drain the water in the sink. I live in a dry climate so it only takes a couple of hours for them to completly dry.
  • @old todd33: Thanks, did not think about those Salad spinners....
    How do you wash? Do you use just a tooth brush and patience or do you use another method? I know one method I was going to try is using an old pretzel barrel and put soapy water in it and just shake it or swish the water around...
  • @madforlegos: I use Dawn brand dish soap because it is one of only of few that actually contains real soap, most others do not. I use a soft nail brush for scrubbing and I have found it is not a good idea to use too much soap. They seem to do better if you use only enough soap to make a nice lather on top.
  • edited June 2011
    I have bought Lego at garage sales and off craigs list but sometimes they smell of smoke and i end up leaving them in storage because i can't stand the smoke smell does anyone have a good way to remove the smell?
  • I've heard quite a few success stories, just be careful and maybe test a few bricks before the whole lot.

    Here are a few links, I have not tried either so no guarantees:
    http://blog.abandonedfactory.net/2007/02/18/removing-smoke-from-lego/
    http://brickblog.net/2006/10/30/cleaning-lego

    Good luck!
  • Put loose bricks into a pillow case secure the end then toss it into a washing machine at a low temperature. Comes up a treat. Not recommended on the boxes or instructions :-)
  • Another vote for pillowcase in the washer cleaning method. Just make sure its on low and your laughing.
  • ^ Yes, avoid the spin cycle I've heard. Could cause a lot of damage to bricks - scratch, scuff marks etc.
  • Has anybody tried a dishwasher in the cuttlery container?
  • ^ Have tried in the dishwasher and was extremely successful. Still goes in a pillow case though to make sure no pieces go astray. The fact that there is no rotation inside the dishwaher also means that there's no scratching either.
  • Has anybody tried a dishwasher in the cuttlery container?
    My wife doesn't have a cutlery container ;o)

  • ^ I'd take her back then...
  • I clean all second hand Lego regardless of how well looked after it is. I usually do this by adding a few drops of anti-bacterial washing up liquid to a sink full of warm water and sponge each piece, then rinse off a couple of times. This takes forever, but gets a good result. I'm thinking of trying the dishwasher or washing machine??

    Those little drawstring bags that hold the tablets in look handy!!
  • edited June 2011
    Has anybody tried a dishwasher in the cuttlery container?
    I use my dishwasher for baseplates, but you have to be careful with spotting and any detergent you use.. Especially with Green baseplates with roadways.. it seems the Gray paint they used on those does not really hold up well while washing.. you have to be carefully not to rub the paint off of those..
    I have tried smaller pieces without a bag or anything, and they just move all around in the dishwasher, but I believe others have mentioned laundry bags as a solution to that. Just hesitant to put a bag full of Lego into a washing machine.. I have that fear that the bag rips open and I lose a ton of Lego out the drain...
  • The type of detergent can help. Ariel is one of the highest perfume content detergents around so using it will help. Also storing them with a few Bounce sheets in the boxes can counter odd smells. I use this hint for those horrible smelling plastic toys that have a petroleum base.
  • The bigger lego is made up of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene plastic (ABS) and are not toxic, I did materials at school :P . But not all pieces are made from this, with other plastics used such as polycarbonate for example on more smaller pieces.

    You can either do the pillow case option, which is rather easy!
    Or
    You can put the lego into a bucket with hot soapy water.
  • edited June 2011
    Do NOT put printed bricks in the washing machine. Might seem pretty obvious, but I was tired and shoved a whole lot in. Came up a bit too clean for my liking :( dishwasher does sound better for preventing scratching too
  • edited June 2011
    What about oxyclean? I'm surprised nobody has mentioned it or the method to try use oxyclean. Only thing is I'm unsure of; is it safe to use on the bricks? I will attempt this with extra spare bricks I never use.

    I've used oxyclean to clean out the shower heads by immerse it in a small bowl of warm/hot with oxyclean stirred in it. I was surprised to see how much dirty it came out of shower heads. After this, the shower heads was full stream on.
  • edited June 2011
    Do NOT put printed bricks in the washing machine. Might seem pretty obvious, but I was tired and shoved a whole lot in. Came up a bit too clean for my liking :( dishwasher does sound better for preventing scratching too
    Yeah.. started to rub off a 1 x 8 before I realized I was rubbing off the 'Garage' sticker from 6383, never put printed or sticker bricks in the wash.. sounds obvious, but you may tend to want to lump all the pieces to wash in one bin...

  • Thank you all for the advice I will try the dishwasher method as my wife will not let me go near the washing machine ........so I washed few ink pens you would think one would forget something like that.....
  • I been using baby wipes on a couple of sets and it works a treat for minifigs for general cleaning and leaves 'em smelling fresh! But only as a trial as I wonder what long term effect it might have on lego! I can't see it being a problem but you never know?
  • From a friend who is a chemical engineer... he said that it's the "B" in ABS (Butadine) that causes the absorbtion of smoke. The above mentioned fixes work fine... but if you happen to work in a laboratory and have a vacuum chamber.... then smoky ABS LEGO left in a vacuum for 24 hours will also eliminate the smoky smell.... but not everyone has a vacuum chamber available... nor it seems a cutlery container.... ;-)
  • Given the quite low softening temperature of ABS, is it really a good idea to wash bricks in an automatic dishwasher? These usually heat the washwater to 65 degrees C or more.
  • The type of detergent can help. Ariel is one of the highest perfume content detergents around so using it will help. Also storing them with a few Bounce sheets in the boxes can counter odd smells. I use this hint for those horrible smelling plastic toys that have a petroleum base.
    The problem is those solutions the only mask, not remove, the smell, or make the Legos smell like something else. I want my Legos to smell like plastic at best, not perfumes, or dryer sheets.. Someone apparently used those with some parts I got off of eBay and I almost started to vomit at how bad the parts reeked.. not of smoke but of those dryer sheets...

  • From a friend who is a chemical engineer... he said that it's the "B" in ABS (Butadine) that causes the absorbtion of smoke. The above mentioned fixes work fine... but if you happen to work in a laboratory and have a vacuum chamber.... then smoky ABS LEGO left in a vacuum for 24 hours will also eliminate the smoky smell.... but not everyone has a vacuum chamber available... nor it seems a cutlery container.... ;-)
    Do they sell vacuum chambers on eBay? lol
  • ^ You'd think they would... but most of that sucking sound coming from them is "seller fees"..... LOL
  • I have won a used 4894 (Mythical Creatures) set on eBay. I have not received the set yet, but I know I will be cleaning the parts. What is the best way to clean the triangular wing (Green Cloth Sail Triangular 15 x 22 )? I don't know the condition of the pieces yet, but any general suggestions would be appreciated.
  • edited October 2011
    I was wondering how you dust LEGO sets that you display on a shelf. Feather duster? Wool duster? Other? Any ideas are much appreciated!
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