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Tips on cleaning used Lego

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I recently bought a bulk ;lot that had many licensed minifigs and some incomplete sets.  Upon arrival and inspection, turns out that Sid from Toy Story 1 must've owned these.  1/5s of the minifigs (and a few elements) had permanent marker on them. 

 

for permanent marker (any color), i had success using Goo Gone.  The marker come up w/o hurting the Lego artwork / design under it.  Even a 2006 Batman face (with the white stripe above the eyes) and Indiana Jones torso cleaned nicely.

A little WD-40 on a rag works well too.

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Well I have always used this method, which is using an Ultrasonic Cleaner that you use for jewellery.

I bought a cheap one of these a few years back now (from Ebay). Although it is not large you can still fit quite a lot of pieces in at a time and hey presto, it removes the majority of the dirt/dust for you. I use warm water with a little dish washing liquid then when they have finished in the Ultrasonic Cleaner rinse them under running water to remove all traces of detergent, dust etc.

I just let the pieces air dry on a towel which doesn't take too long and this has worked well for me over many years.

NOTE - To prove the cleaners do work, you should see the water left behind after a dirty model.. Cheers..

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This link is down. I read it once before and went back to reference it. Can anyone help?

I searched for the article individually, rather than using the link. When BP went over the WordPress, I think some of the articles weren't converted over because we're eventually going to go back to Jeff's own version. Link to the search: http://blog.brickpicker.com/?s=the%20art%20of%20cleaning%20lego and clicking on the link. Direct Link: http://blog.brickpicker.com/the-art-of-cleaning-legos/

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To dry I use an old bed sheet. Fill them with the washed lego. Tie it up and hang it outside when it is windy. After a day or two they are perfectly dry.

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I searched for the article individually, rather than using the link. When BP went over the WordPress, I think some of the articles weren't converted over because we're eventually going to go back to Jeff's own version. Link to the search: http://blog.brickpicker.com/?s=the%20art%20of%20cleaning%20lego and clicking on the link. Direct Link: http://blog.brickpicker.com/the-art-of-cleaning-legos/

 

Yes! That's it! Thanks a bunch comicblast!

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Guest brickcrazyhouse

take it apart, wash and rebuild

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I know this is an older thread, but I figured I would add my thoughts on the subject as I've been doing some more research and cleaning lately. 

I clean any Lego I purchase used, I'm disgusted at what other people do with their things sometimes after seeing and purchasing used lots and sets.

For cleaning, I've done the dish soap in the sink method, and gradually switched over to a small 2.5L Harbor Freight Ultrasonic Cleaner
The ultrasonic cleaner is great at cleaning used and dirty Lego without requiring much physical labor from you. I've dropped minifigures caked with dirt and crud on them into the cleaner, and seen the dirt just loosen itself and fall off in seconds. After a few cycles through the cleaner with dish soap and hot water (the cleaner has a heating plate to warm the water), most of the dust and dirt has fallen off and the pieces are nice and clean after a quick rinse under the tap. A good indicator that the ultrasonic cleaner is doing its job is the gunk left floating in the water after I remove the brick. 

My problem I'm realizing is that particular ultrasonic cleaner is good for minifigures or small batches, but not larger sets. It took multiple batches in the cleaner to clean my Emerald Night train, and most of those pieces were small. Larger plates kill space in the cleaner even faster. 

After killing an entire Sunday cleaning and laying out to dry the Emerald Night, I figured I needed a change. I have a bunch of HP, Fantasy era Castle, Star Wars sets, and various large lots of Lego that need to be cleaned, so an upgrade for the sake of my time is needed. 

I'm planning on purchasing a larger unit to clean a full set at once. I'm planning on either this 10L Ultrasonic Cleaner, or this 6L Ultrasonic Cleaner. Both appear to be made in China, but are fairly reasonable on price compared to industrial units in the $1-2K range. These large units have many benefits over the smaller unit I currently have, and I have other applications besides Lego I can use the cleaner for. 

Drying the Lego is the biggest time suck of the cleaning process I've found. I have laid out all the pieces on a towel to dry, with a small Honeywell circular fan that you can easily find at most stores blowing over the top of them. Drying in the winter time goes much faster as my apartment gets very dry, and the water evaporates much faster. 

I don't want to use the dishwasher, and I don't want to put in the dryer. I've heard some people have success, but I've also heard many melted Lego stories or scratches surfaces from being in the dryer. 

I found Ed's The Art of Cleaning LEGOs blog in which he mentioned using a salad spinner. This seems like a good approach for getting most of the large drops of water off, but doesn't completely dry them and still requires them to be laid out to dry. The spinner is also a manual process, and I'm looking for something that will require the minimal effort. 

After doing more research into ultrasonic cleaners, a common use is for cleaning spent brass for shooting. A few videos showed people using food dehydrators after the ultrasonic cleaner to dry the brass. 

After doing some searching, I have only found a person or two mentioning using a food dehydrator for drying Lego, but nothing on how well it works. Amazon has some relatively inexpensive food dehydrators, which I thinking will greatly help in reducing the drying time of washed Lego. This particular unit can be set between 95° and 160° F, but many reports say it runs a little bit cooler than the settings (which in this case will be good so it won't bake or melt the Lego. 

I'm curious if anyone else has thought about food dehydrators before, or also uses an ultrasonic cleaner and has any recommendations? 

 

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2 hours ago, Sharkbait said:

has any recommendations? 

I've looked at food dehydrators, but frankly, I've seen them in use for food before, and they can get quite hot! I'd be mildly concerned about some of the smaller more delicate pieces having little enough plastic that they might melt or deform a bit (thinking clips and such).

 

So instead, I've got a fairly brilliant, and potentially free, option for drying that I've been using for months now. It's extremely effective, and often dries a big set (as mentioned like a HP castle) in 6 hours or less. You just need lots of them, and they do eventually wear out so you'll need a continual supplier..... 

 

Find a retailer that stocks "hard goods".... this basically describes anything that isn't food or clothing/garments  (and thinking about it, maybe some clothing stores get them in their shipments). Ask them to collect you a big bag of silica packs. Just about every bag of every product has one in there, and 99.9% of the time they're just being chucked in the bin. Save up a bag of 4-8L (1-2 Gal) worth, then get yourself a tray with some deep enough sidewalls to contain your lego sets in question. I do recommend the salad spinner method first, to get rid of any large water droplets. If you have large plates or basepaltes I recommend giving them a few solid wacks over your (clothed, preferabbly cotton jeaned) kneecap or thigh to remove some of the droplets that like to hide in the underside tubes. Then layer the parts in your tray with the silica packs, alternating silica layer with lego layer, giving it a little toss/mix every couple layers. Generally I'll do this before bed and let them sit overnight. Usually good to go in the morning. 

 

I work in an outdoor sporting goods store, and have had kayakers come in and request silica packs for drying off their neoprene gloves and boots etc. which is where I got the idea.... if it's good enough to dry out material that's designed to hold in water, it's probably good enough to dry lego parts. Turns out I was right.

The only thing to be aware of, is the silica granules can only take on so much moisture before they're "full" and stop working. Their lifespan ultimately depends on how much pre-water you can eliminate before putting them in the tray... the less water the silica has to absorb, the longer the packets will last. I can usually get 15 or 20 batches of the described volume of lego out of a  single 4L batch of silicas. 

 

Hope this is helpful to some of you! 

Edited by Zelgazra
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I have old lego stocks as well and I was afraid to clean it before because it might compromise its quality, but when I used mild soap and soaked them, the stocks became good as new.

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Does anyone have any recommendations for removing persistent odor from LEGO? I've got a large, bulk lot of early Bionicle that has old house smell and after a soapy water pre-soak and 2 additional turns in the washing machine, they still stink. Will vinegar take the smell out completely? Will it leave a permanent vinegar smell? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. 

Edited by DangerP

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22 minutes ago, Phil B said:

I've used soapy water and a good spray of unscented Febreze to good effect on some train lots that came from a smoker's house.....

I haven't tried Febreze yet, but I will give that a shot. Thanks. I was able to get rid of smoke smell from a Technic snowmobile with a pre-soak and one color-safe bleach wash, but this Bionicle lot has proven to be much more difficult. 

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  • Get a large storage tote.
  • Fill about 1/3 with "stinky" Lego.
  • Put a piece of paper on top of Lego, and put about 8-10 Charcoal Briquettes on paper.
  • Put lid on tote and leave sealed for several days (maybe a week).

I've done this 4 or 5 times (successfully) to remove various odors, including cigarette smell.

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Guest TabbyBoy

I really can't be bothered to remove other peoples' filth, is it really worth it? There's a lot less hassle in selling new stuff, surely? I have some bricks that are over 35 years old and some are scratched to Hell and even split when using. However, they only have my DNA on them ? Won't the use of chemicals cause further damage?

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8 hours ago, Goofball814 said:
  • Get a large storage tote.
  • Fill about 1/3 with "stinky" Lego.
  • Put a piece of paper on top of Lego, and put about 8-10 Charcoal Briquettes on paper.
  • Put lid on tote and leave sealed for several days (maybe a week).

I've done this 4 or 5 times (successfully) to remove various odors, including cigarette smell.

And when do you light the charcoal briquettes? :devil:

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12 hours ago, DangerP said:

Does anyone have any recommendations for removing persistent odor from LEGO? I've got a large, bulk lot of early Bionicle that has old house smell and after a soapy water pre-soak and 2 additional turns in the washing machine, they still stink. Will vinegar take the smell out completely? Will it leave a permanent vinegar smell? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. 

For a bulk (prebuilt) lot of bionicles - I would just let mother nature take care of it.

Spread them out on the back deck - Soon enough, the breeze, rain, etc. will take care of them.

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