Have you bought the box of Lego pieces or a second-hand Lego set at surprisingly low cost from that yard sale and cannot ignore the foul smell from the box? Have you lost touch of Lego building for ages and suddenly bring out the old cardboard box to inspect the pieces or complete sets, only to lay hands on greasy and dusty stack of pieces? Even if you like to be appreciated your Lego building art while looking at the completed sets displayed at home, chances are that many such models are standing there on the shelf for months and years on end without the touch of a wiper and brush.
Playing with your favorite Lego set or indulging in frequent assembling and disassembling of Lego pieces will seem like a normal thing to do until one day you look at them closely to find layers of dust, greasy stain, foul smell or even see the pieces losing color. Knowing how to clean Lego on a regular basis will help you store the Lego sets and loose pieces for years to come. If you buy used Lego sets from yard sale or any online platform, those need to be properly cleaned to remove any smell and germs residing in the dust.
Hand Washing Lego Bricks –Steps To Follow
Although time-consuming, this process is the safest approach for cleaning as sensitive dye and old Lego pieces are subject to get damaged if you use hard chemicals. Besides, if your Lego pieces have minimal dust and dirt, it will be the easiest way to clean for preventing accidental damage –
- Use alcohol wipes to wipe electrical or delicate parts such as light bricks, streetlamps, light kit accessories etc. Keep the printed or stickered Lego pieces and multi-part Lego units like turntables that are complicated to separate, aside and scrub those with dry wipes or towels. If needed, use toothbrush or soft-bristle brush to remove dust from tricky corners.
- Now disassemble the pieces that are not water sensitive in multi-piece units as much as possible. Add lukewarm water (temperature not more than 40-degree Celsius) and a little bleach-free mild detergent or soap and dip the units, stirring them gently from time to time. Generally keeping 200-300 pieces or units in each container will be enough.
- You can add 1/4thor ½ amount of vinegar in the water if you want to sanitize them or eradicate smell. Keep the bricks soaked for about 10-15 minutes –if the water looks too murky, replace with the same but fresh solution and leave for an hour or overnight as necessary.
- Rub scratch-prone pieces like windshields with fingers. If there is residual grime stuck on the pieces and crevices, use toothbrush or toothpick for scrubbing. Now transfer the bricks to colander or strainer and rinse properly under cool water to remove loosened grime and soap.
- Now place the wet pieces right-side up on a dry towel to let the water drain from underside and leave the fan running. Do not use hair dryer as it can ruin the bricks.
Cleaning Lego Bricks In Washing Machine
Now that you know the best way to dust Legos and considering whether to wash the pieces quickly in washing machine, here is a little word of advice –there might be the tumbling or disfigurement issues due to heat, if the pieces are old. Here also, you need to separate the printed, stickered and electrical pieces, moving parts and clear plastic pieces to wipe them clean with alcohol wipes or dry towel. Now, follow the steps –
- Put the units or pieces in laundry bag or pillowcase if not available. The mesh or cloth covering will prevent tumbling. Make sure you close the mouth with rubber band or zipper.
- Set the washing mode in cold and the gentlest wash. Add mild laundry detergent powder or liquid wash to prevent scratching.
- Place the pieces on dry towel like in the hand washing method described above and make sure the room is well ventilated for quick drying. Keep away from excessive heat. Depending on the humidity level, it will take 1-2 days for the pieces to dry completely.
Cleaning To Restore Discolored Lego Pieces
Discoloration happens due to excessive exposure to the sun and before reversing it, you need the accumulated grime and dust to be removed. Follow any of the above-mentioned two steps to clean the pieces first. Now follow the steps –
- Get a large transparent glass or plastic container and place the Lego parts (excluding printed, stickered and electrical parts) in it. Keep the container where it receives sufficient sunlight.
- Hydrogen peroxide will be used in this step and as it reacts with UV light, so only a place with sunlight or UV lamp will be helpful. Get 3% solution of Hydrogen Peroxide from any drug store that will be enough for covering the bricks. Wear rubber gloves, mask and goggles while using it to avoid skin contact and make sure kids are not near as exposure to the chemical can be harmful.
- If any lightweight piece floats on the surface, weigh it down with something heavy. Stir the bricks at the interval of an hour to dislodge bubbles and when you see no bubble in the solution, it means that hydrogen peroxide is dissolved fully and it is time to drain the liquid and start the process with new solution.
- If white Lego turns yellow or red brick look orange, this process will help reversing it. Now keep the bricks for 4-6 hours according to the sunlight strength and age of hydrogen peroxide. Transfer them to colander once done and rinse properly before letting them to air dry.
Cleaning Lego Pieces With Stickers –You can clean the pieces with stickers by hand so that the sticker is not damaged. However, for removing obnoxious dirt, you can use lukewarm water where bar towels can be dipped and wrung before gently rubbing over the stickered pieces. Let them dry before packing.
Cleaning Bricks If You Have Hard Water Supply –Just rinse the Lego bricks in jet-dry and solution of water, following the amount of six tablespoons per gallon. Place the bricks separately on towel so that the jet dry can remove surface tension while water rivulets can trickle down into the towel. This will help in efficient soaking of the water instead of making a pool.
Disinfecting Lego Pieces –Vinegar solution can be the best disinfectant although if you find the awful smell persisting, add bleach and water in 1:20 ratio and dip the pieces into the solution for an entire day. Keep stirring the pieces in the solution at regular intervals.
Removing Smoke Or Urine Smell From Lego Pieces –Consider the consistency like that poutine and prepare a thick paste with baking soda and water and lather it properly on the Lego pieces wearing gloves. According to the number of bricks, you should make the paste so that all the pieces are properly covered and you can also put the paste in a 3-4l bin and dip the pieces in it so that the surface gets covered.
Now take the bin outside in a place without grass or plants you do not want to kill (concrete floor or weed jungle, for example), take a spray bottle full of 100% white vinegar and spray on the pieces. You will notice foam forming around the pieces and the smell going slowly. Mix it up again, let sit and spray again –do it for a few hours.
After that, fill a bucket with vinegar or with half vinegar and half water. Dunk the foam-covered bricks using a strainer and then into a bucket filled with water for rinsing them properly. Let dry in the sun afterwards.
Things You Should Not Do While Cleaning Lego Bricks
The thumb’s rule to follow is not to use anything that is harmful for baby skin and therefore, you should steer clear from undiluted bleach, chemical cleaner for bathroom, floor or sink and undiluted cleaning acid. Here are things you should be aware of –
- While Isopropyl alcohol is mostly used for Lego clean up, many people confuse it with nail polish thinner or remover as many consider both to be the same. The nail polish remover spirit takes more time than alcohol to get evaporated and often ends up damaging the dye on the bricks.
- Air drying without confirming the water quality of the tap water can result in mineral deposits on the pieces because hard and saline water tend to leave residue when dried in air.
- Do not leave any dust stuck between the studs of the pieces because once it is settled, you cannot get rid of it without wiping the dusty pieces with wet rug or swifter duster or kitchen scrubber having soft bristles.
- Avoid using powdered detergent if you want to wash the Lego bricks in dishwasher as the detergent particles will act like small sand blasters and harm the pieces. the same goes for clothes washing machines where whitening detergents are strict no-no for Lego bricks.
- Make sure you kid is not using magic eraser for removing dirt as these erasers are made of expanded melamine foam like in sand paper and rubbing with a 2500 grit rubber will result in wearing of the bricks.
- Avoid washing chrome Lego pieces in soap water. Even if you need to, dip those pieces in water only and pat dry with microfiber clothing. Do this only if there is no flaking of the chrome plates.
Additional Tips To Follow
Even if you light up Lego sets, cleaning the light kit along with the Lego pieces will still be necessary because dust might accumulate amid the intricate lighting accessories. make sure you uninstall the light kit and remove it from the main power before washing the Lego pieces, otherwise the lights will get damaged or electrical hazards can take place. Apart from that, here are some tips you should follow –
- Use lukewarm water, light detergent or soft cleaning liquid and rinse with large stick or spoon while washing in basin or bin.
- While washing in dishwasher, add up to 10 clean glasses and start the rinse cycle by adding one or two cups full of white vinegar instead of detergent and load the bag of Lego pieces. Once done, air dry the pieces instead of heating.
- For clothing washing machine, use heavy rinse cycle with non-bleaching light and liquid fabric cleaner. Air dry afterwards, even better if dried in sun for a few hours as it helps to remove yellowing.
- If you live in clod damp region, sort the pieces beforehand and plan the washing over 5-6 days as the pieces will need 2-3 days for drying up fully.
- For speeding up the drying process, get a lidded bin of about 4-5L capacity and toss the Lego pieces inside with some microfiber clothes. Close the lid and shake it up a little.
- Avoid using too much alcohol while removing any permanent ink marking on the Lego pieces and keep a tissue handy to wipe the excess alcohol off. Too much alcohol can damage the sensitive dyes in the pieces as they do not evaporate soon.
Light Kits For The Lego Sets –How To Clean Them
For the Lego sets to look stunning without overshadowing, you can highlight Lego with lights from the handmade Briksmax or Lightailing light kits. The kits come in hardcover box that you can sanitize with any disinfectant spray and letting it under sun for a day. On opening the box, you will find plastic bags and inside each, you get LEDs and peripherals. Wipe the packets and contents with sanitizing liquid and test them properly before using so that you can be sure about the functionality. There are premium LEDs with connecting cables, that are passed between stubs and if the stubs are dirty, the wires automatically get dirty too. Clean the sets and install the lights, expansion boards, Adhesive Squares, cables, USB power cord and battery pack with clean AA batteries bought separately. Once installed, spray disinfectant from a distance or use wipes to clean any dirt.
There are instruction manuals to understand the installation process and the kits have 2-year manufacturing guarantee. While following the cleaning procedures for the Lego bricks, make sure you clean the lighting accessories too, but without exposure to water. If you use alcohol-based disinfectant, let it dry completely before turning on main power.