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Cleaning Lego

245

Comments

  • Personally I get one of those feather dusters that actually attract dust. Any brand will do. I found that the best way to get most of the dust is to actualy tap the area with the feathers as opposed to rubbing. This tends to draw more dust out of the crevices. Its not perfect and does not get 100% but it will take enough off to make sure that another LEGO fan will not take your sets for neglect. :-)
  • I wrote a post on all the different ways LEGO-fans clean their dusty LEGO. There are some interesting options. You can read it here: http://thebrickblogger.com/2010/12/cleaning-dusty-lego/

    Also, in the comment section of that post you will see a link of an ingenious device someone put together and sells on eBay. It may not work for all LEGO creations, but for things like LEGO cars, Star Wars ships, etc., it would be great!
  • you can also put a pair of tights over the end of a vacuum (secure with a rubber band) and although small parts might dislodge, they won't get sucked up!
    Drmnez
  • I caught the missus blasting my death star on Friday with the electric pump we use on the kids bouncy castle. Appeared to do the job but the mouse droid did go flying!
    flowerpotgirl
  • I ran across a small, hand-held, battery-powered vacuum designed for cleaning computer keyboards. It came with a couple different brush attachments, and seems to work fairly well for getting between studs and other small parts. I just keep it near the Legos and use it for a few minutes periodically. Here's a link:

    http://www.mileskimball.com/MilesKimball/Shopping/ProductDetail.aspx?ProductID=0000080045&ICMP=Search&;
  • Thanks everyone! @akunthita - I think the makeup or artist brush idea is the road I may take. The cans of air are too expensive. The little vacuums look interesting too.
  • Paintbrush and blowing it takes a while but gets great results and for grime its warm water and washing up liquid
  • I just spent about $10 for 2 cans of air dusters at Wal Mart today. Might have to get a swifter duster now instead.
  • I personally use the canned air method along with a brush. I only have to do it twice a year, so although canned air is expensive, two cans a year is a tolerable expense. I also tried the small air-blower method, and although it works fine, I found it is easier to navigate the canned air into all the nooks and cravices of my displays.
    @Savage_Steel, love your idea! Will try it out!...(c;
  • Take it outside and hose it down - as long as there's no pneumatics or electrics that is...
  • i used a make up brush and the hoover, brushing the dust while following with the hoover sucking it up.
  • I use a Metro Vacuum ED500 as an alternative to canned air. It's is kind of like a cross between small, hand-held leaf blower and a hairdryer. Just be cautious of other things across the room in its airstream.

    Natural fiber make-up brushes, synthetic may scratch. Not entirely keen on the brush approach as it never seems to remove dust sufficiently due to static electricity build up. Removes 80%, leaves 20%.

    Scotch Magic Tape to lift finger prints and other oily gunk from the glossy sides of bricks (avoid stickers). Avoids the abrasion that might occur using a cloth to wipe bricks off.
  • Thanks for the ideas everyone! I just picked up a natural fiber makeup brush, and liking it so far. W
  • I use old toothbrushes, you can get a good scrub going and get the bristles into tricky areas.
    I find them great for regular dusting and keep one to hand like I would a brick separator, that way any slightly skanky brick going into a build gets an immediate dust off.
    For ground in filth I use a damp cloth first (to help lift stubborn dirt) then toothbrush then clean damp cloth for shine.
    My UCS collection gets the same treatment,it's much quicker than you would imagine and quite therapeutic :)
  • Try feathers. My mum is a picture framer and she uses them to remove dust from the glass before sealing the frames.

    We've got some ostrich feather dusters in the house and they're brilliant for collecting dust and a shake out the window cleans them up.
  • edited December 2011
    What is the recommended way to clean LEGO Baseplates (Colored and Roads) and other LEGO Bricks/Blocks/Pieces.

  • I believe there have been other threads on this, but I have found that a cosmetic brush works really well for dusting. (this idea came from others in the forum.)

    For deep-down grime from a used vintage set, I have washed pieces using a toothbrush.
  • Soap and water and a toothbrush for most parts works wonders. Be careful with stickered and printed pieces. Wash those separately.

    What can be done about dirty cloth pieces? I have a printed pirate sail from the 90s that spent some time in storage and got discolored and dirty. Is it safe to wash? Should I use some sort of fabric cleaner?
  • Ok the brush part I knew about but I was wondering about what kind of liquid or chemical to wash the Base plates and not to take the color or any printing from the Road base plates.
  • edited December 2011
    I think there are threads that exist for this already...
    For lightly dusted, or light grime, you can use a paint brush to clean the parts.
    For parts that are more soiled use water and a toothbrush (maybe a bit of dishwashing soap, but without bleaching agents!!!).
    I have used a dish washing machine for bigger parts (large plates/baseplates)(do not use any detergent, just water), and a tooth brush and sink for smaller parts (sometimes the most work does get the best results...
    You can try to use something like a pillowcase and washing machine or dishwasher with parts, but I have never tried it, and really do not know how clean the parts get or how scratched up they can get with doing it this way.
    Do not put stickers in a 'wash bin' that is do not submerge them in water, hand wash those and do not scrub the sticker, try not to get too much water on them.
    WD-40 gets rid of sticker residue and

    Also note that green baseplates with Gray roadways tend to lose the paint fairly easily, so do not scrub a gray roadway on a green baseplate, lightly wash (and even then sometimes the gray seems to come up)

    Stick to water or a very light amount of dish soap to clean the parts as there are some that have agents that can bleach the parts.


    As for canvas, I have heard that stain sticks work for the white parts of sails, never tried it though..
    I have thrown them into a washer before, and while it may do a bit of cleaning (not much though from what I have seen) you will get a lot of fraying to the sails edges, so I do not recommend it,.
  • I am basically looking to make the Roadway baseplates to become a bit more shiny and not to appear too old and dusty.
  • Coolsplash, I just sold my collection of 80 old (9 stud) baseplates to several buyers on Bricklink. They had been stored in the basement for 20+ years, and although most were hardly (if ever) used, they needed a cleaning. A dusting was not enough, this is what I did, and worked great for me....

    1) Tools.... very soft tooth brush... some paper towels, old plush towels, oscillating fan, anti-bacterial liquid hand soap (or dishwater liquid soap).
    2) immerse baseplate totally in warm water, put some liquid soap into the stud areas.
    3) wet the toothbrush and go over all the studded areas brushing in the same direction. then switch angles of the baseplate so that eventually you scrub with the brush in all 4 directions of the compass.
    4) for roadplates use soapy wet paper towels for the road surfaces... easy going on the printed roadway areas. For non-printed road surfaces you can get a little rougher with the paper towel.
    5) completely immerse the sudsy base or road plate in warm water. Then tap the plate so that the water in the holes in back of the baseplate is out. Take a fluffy towel and dry the baseplate, drying in multiple directions (and don't forget the back).
    6) put the baseplate in front of an oscillating fan to fast dry within a few minutes. Don't just leave it out to dry without a fan, you may get water spots.
    7) if there are still any dirty areas on your baseplate... repeat process a 2nd time, with added attention to problem areas.

    Many of my road plates came out practically brand new by using this method... but remember easy on any areas that have printing....
  • Wow, thanks for the run down Istokg, really appreciate it. Do you have any Road baseplates you are selling?
  • edited January 2012
    I just received a lot that I won off of ebay, and it is pretty dusty. The paint all looks in great condition - and there is no stickers to worry about.

    So does anyone have experience on cleaning LEGO without damaging the pieces - or leaving any residue?
  • Is it painted bricks or just regular bricks? A colander, a few drops of Dawn, and a bath tub or sink will do if it is just regular bricks.

    If the bricks are painted, you'll have to be a bit more cautious. I'd skip the Dawn, but warm water won't do any harm. (FWIW - some say the Dawn won't harm the paint. That's probably true - I just don't use it.)

    Brent
  • I believe there might be a couple posts similar to this one... But what I can remember off the top of my head was one post suggesting placing the pieces in a sock and then placing the sock in a dishwasher. There is also a brick dusting tool made by some third party that is mainly used for built models. I've yet to pick it up but it looks interesting. I think its made by

    ArtiFlex and is called the brick duster

    Theres a youtube video showing its function and he sells them on ebay. I thought a dremel may be similar so I tried mine once, it worked but the slowest speed I could set my dremel was 5000rpm and maybe it was the tool I was using, but it seemed to slightly damage "softer" plastic parts... like the brown muskets and rigging from the vintage pirate stuff.
  • Almost all of the pieces are Minifigs - and from the Dragon Knights era (so the mid-90's). I just don't want to disfigure the painted torsos, they all look great. There is just the normal play residue.

    I will try the warm water (luke-warm that is). I don't think that I will need an apparatuses other than a 'soft-comb' tooth-brush. Most of the build-up is in the usual places - crevices, etc.

    Thanks!
  • I used room temperature water and a tooth brush. The primary ingredients besides that were good old elbow grease and patience.
  • ^ Unfortunately Prof's solution gets the best results. I soaked a lot of really bad stuff for a few days in some soapy water, but I don't think it made too much difference.
  • Luke-warm water and a couple of drops of washing-up liquid used in combination with a small soft sponge. Rinse off the cleaned bricks in a collander, shake dry in a clean tea towel and finish-dry any pieces that are still damp using a hairdryer held at a distance. Works for me - just takes a bit of time.

    Dust won't simply wash off by just soaking. A bit of elbow grease is required (unfortunately).
  • I just get a cup with water and a toothbrush, by the end the cup is filled with dirt.
  • I've used cotton buds for a bit of detail cleaning before. Works very well if you have the patience.
  • I buy a lot of LEGO from Craigslist and I thoroughly wash all of it because as @drdavewatford said so eloquently, "people are gross". For small batches, I generally handwash them. I do 2 separate soaks in soapy water (using a soft brush if necessary) and then 2 rinses before drying them with a giant fan (which is sooo much faster).

    Don't ask me why I have a picture of this - I just do. I'm weird this way.

    LEGO Sorting

    I've mistakenly washed a few stickered pieces this way and they actually made it through okay. But as a general rule, I wash stickered pieces separately.

    For lots that are 50lbs or more, I do a quick rinse and then throw them into a laundry bag (mesh with a zipper) and then put them in the dishwasher in the gentle/china rinse. I've had no problems with scratching, warping or anything else using the dishwasher. They're never completely dry though so they still need to be air/fan dryed.

    Also, I had some large white bricks with marker drawings all over it - the Mr. Clean Magic eraser + elbow grease took them right out.

    For new sets that I have on display, I just use compressed air to blow the dust of them every week.
  • Dishwashers are dangerous because of the water temperature. The contents get quite hot and with plastic bricks that's bad news.
  • @prof1515 - in my experience, it is typically the heat-dry element that that poses harm. Usually the water temp can't get high enough to do any harm.

    Brent
  • Entirely possible since ABS is rated for a maximum temperature of 176 F. However, dishwashers are recommended for a minimum temperature of at least 120 F, preferably higher. Doubt the water gets to 176 coming in but the 120+ recommendation is to aid in drying as the water temperature climbs more easily under heat from the element. In that case, the water is exceeding the 176 F and in direct contact with the brick thus posing the risk of damage.
  • Ah - just be sure to turn off the heat-dry element when you wash LEGO :)
  • Yeah, good idea. I wonder if it voids the warranty to do so. :-) With my luck, it probably does. I am the guy whose laptop suffered catastrophic failure 366 days after purchase with a one (non-leap) year warranty, after all!
  • On my dishwasher, there is an option to turn it off. It's nothing that I'd have to manually disconnect. I can just press a button and it's off.

    Brent
  • Ah, nice. Mine doesn't have such a feature.
  • Has anyone tried using a food dehydrator to dry their Lego? I have an old dehydrator that's been sitting in my garage for a year or so, and I think it's about time to put it to work. I'm thinking of washing the pieces and then putting them in the dehydrator at 105-115 degrees and letting it do its work.
  • edited February 2012
    ^ I dont think it will make them take up any less space unfortunately.
  • edited February 2012
    I bought some used sets that are kinda dusty or dingy or what have you. When I sold a big lot of Duplos a few weeks ago I just dunked them in hot soapy water to get the drool and boogers off as a kindness to the buyer, but I'm a little more finicky when it comes to "real" Legos, not least cuz they'll fit down the drain. My questions for collectors are: what are some methods you use to clean them, what are things to avoid (harsh solvents, etc.), is there a safe way to clean pieces that have stickers on them, and is it possible to efface printed bricks? I know the whole "put 'em in a strainer and spray spray spray" is obvious, so I guess I'm looking for answers to the other three questions. My soon-to-be heavenly white Recon Dropship and I thank you.
  • There have been other threads on this, but I can't find them! A lot of people use the dishwasher, washing machine (in one of those bags for delicates) and plain old dishwashing liquid in the sink. I've only done the sink method, but it does take a while if you're trying to remove absolutely every bit of dirt. Don't make the water too hot though, and a toothbrush comes in handy.

    I've never washed a stickered piece, others might be able to advise you on that one. Maybe a damp cloth lightly wiping it would be the way to go rather than fully submerged in water.

    I tend to go easy on the printed pieces though, others swear they survive, but I tried to get a smudge off a printed castle wall piece and ended up removing some of the printing. Same with minifig printing.

    Good luck with the Dropship! I'm about to break down my Eldorado Fortress and clean that.
  • edited February 2012
    ^^Ok, the thread I replied to moved to here after I posted above :)
  • As for those inquiring about dusting, I use a little dremmel-like tool, similar to the one sold on ebay, but I bought mine at a knockoff tool shop for $10. I use a little cloth wheel on it, and it works like a charm. It is great for buffing out light scratches as well.
  • So moderate temp, no harsh detergents, care and scrutiny. Got it. The temp was something I hadn't thought of, I guess it can leach the color. Thanks
  • ^Not sure about leaching the colour, I was more concerned about warping the plastic. I think it has to be quite hot to do that, but you can especially feel the larger plates and baseplates becoming a lot more flexible in the hot water.
  • Actually the really hot water is very bad on factory chrome parts. It tends to dull them down very badly almost turning them white. Hot water won't bleach the color but dishwasher detergent will because it contains bleach.
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