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Cleaning Old / Yardsale Legos?

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Cleaning Old / Yardsale Legos?

Postby etcknight » Sun Apr 26, 2009 9:55 pm

Hi everyone,

Just curious - how does everyone go about cleaning dirty / old legos that you've acquired? Dust alone is pretty easy to get rid of. But, legos with dirt, etc are harder to handle. I'm cautious about using alcohol to clean them. I don't know how good a job soap and water will do. Any recommendations? Thanks! :)
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Re: Cleaning Old / Yardsale Legos?

Postby bigospedros » Mon Apr 27, 2009 2:15 am

remove the stickered and printed pieces ... put the rest in a delicates bag and bung em in the washing machine.

the sickered and printed pieces can be washed, with care, by hand in some mildly soapy water.

Once done, just leave em to air dry.
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Re: Cleaning Old / Yardsale Legos?

Postby Flynn » Mon Apr 27, 2009 8:45 am

I once had a cat vomit on a couple of my pieces. I let them soak in hot water for a night and they were fine.
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Re: Cleaning Old / Yardsale Legos?

Postby Draykov » Mon Apr 27, 2009 2:39 pm

Luke-warm water and a mild soap work for me. A word to the wise though: temperature is important. In some cases, I've seen at least one element that got exposed to water that was too hot and it warped. Trying to put a brick on the 2x2 plate resulted in a brick launched across the room a second or two after it was snapped on.
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Re: Cleaning Old / Yardsale Legos?

Postby Daz Hoo » Wed Apr 29, 2009 7:53 am

I used this method once, and it worked well for me, but it's more time consuming than the previous advices :

1) Put the bricks in an old pillow case, but not the pieces with stickers, who should be cleaned seperately.
2) Tie the end of the pillow case, and put it in the tub
3) Put some liquid dishwashing soap on the pillow case (3 or 4 table spoon depending on the quantity).
4) Poor middly warm water (a little less hot than you would bathe a baby with) over the pillow case.
5) While the water is running directly over the pillow case, stir it a few time and turn it over once or twice to make sure every piece gets washed. If you have a telescopic shower head, that might help you in that process.
6) Turn off the water and spread a large bath towel on the floor next to the tub
7) While still in the tub, un-tie the pillow case, and start taking the pieces out and lay them on the towel. Use a second smaller towel to sponge the excess water off the pieces. You may also want an old toothbrush to remove the more stuborn stains or dirt off some pieces.
8) Don't turn the pillow case over to get all the pieces, because the excess dirt will follow. Get all the pieces out first, than turn the pillow case over to take the dirt out and wash it (if you want to use it again sometime later).
9) Let the pieces dry for the day.

That process will minimize the damage to your pieces and turn most of them to ready to use status once more.
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Re: Cleaning Old / Yardsale Legos?

Postby thepatient » Wed Apr 29, 2009 12:13 pm

This sounds like a good idea.

The only step you forgot to mention is make sure you put the plug in the drain before placing the pieces on a towel. You know that someone will forget that. Then we'll have to have a thread on the best way to get pieces out of the tub drain.
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Re: Cleaning Old / Yardsale Legos?

Postby Daz Hoo » Thu Apr 30, 2009 8:53 am

thepatient wrote:The only step you forgot to mention is make sure you put the plug in the drain before placing the pieces on a towel. You know that someone will forget that.


Yeah, i forgot about that...

You folks might want to add that part in the process.

:lol:
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Re: Cleaning Old / Yardsale Legos?

Postby FirstCircle » Tue May 05, 2009 7:43 am

I used a similar method to Daz. I acquired some grimy pieces so I washed them in my kitchen sink.

First: I disassembled all pieces (even mini-fig arms and hands).

Second: I put the plug in the kitchen sink and added a rubber mat (the rubber mat is intended to help protect items when washing in the sink... it has lots of small holes which keeps elements from sneaking into the drain.

Third: I half fill the sink with slightly warm water and a small amount of dish soap.

Fourth: I put about 100 pieces at a time in the water and let them soak for 10-20 minutes.

Fifth: I hand wash each piece using my fingertips or an old toothbrush.

Sixth: With another rubber mat in the other side of the sink, I individually rinse each piece until they look clean and all the soap is gone.

Seventh: I use a towel to lightly pat dry the rinsed piece and place it on a laid out bath towel.

Eighth: I let the pieces air dry on the towel, or put them in a plastic container that I can let air dry in a place where I don't have to worry about the box being upended.

I repeat this process until everything is clean. It takes a long time, but all pieces are super clean afterword and they have the bonus of being super "grippy". Oil free bricks stick together better than anything. If it wasn't so much work, I'd be tempted to wash all my pieces.

I also used this method to remove tobacco smoke odor. I bought a used set from a smoking household and the pieces reeked of smoke. After the wash, they had no smell. :D
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Re: Cleaning Old / Yardsale Legos?

Postby Blondie-Wan » Fri May 08, 2009 8:31 am

FirstCircle wrote:First: I disassembled all pieces (even mini-fig arms and hands).


On a slight tangent, I wonder about this a lot. Doesn't removing the arms damage them? I thought the arms weren't really considered to be removable, and that while one can do so it stresses the plastic, leading to cracks in the torso if one does it a lot.

I know a lot of people swap hands in and out of minifig arms, too, and I've wanted to do some of that myself (replacing yellow hands with flesh ones, and vice versa), but I don't know whether I really "should" (yeah, I know, they're my bricks and I can do what I want with them, etc., but anyway...).
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Re: Cleaning Old / Yardsale Legos?

Postby FirstCircle » Sat May 30, 2009 11:10 pm

Blondie-Wan wrote:On a slight tangent, I wonder about this a lot. Doesn't removing the arms damage them? I thought the arms weren't really considered to be removable, and that while one can do so it stresses the plastic, leading to cracks in the torso if one does it a lot.


Your concern is well founded. I would recommend doing this as infrequently as possible. When I was a kid and tried to swap arms, I'd sometimes crack the torso. That being said, the big set I last cleaned was the Black Monarch's Castle (it was 19 years old when I cleaned it). All 11 of the original mini-figs are hunky-dory (the missing 12th was just missing, not damaged). I just gently pulled the arms off the torsos.

Pulling mini-fig hands out of the arms repeatedly will eventually strip them (at least it's happened to me), but click hinges will strip with repeated use too, or even soft plastic mini-fig weapons. Nothing lasts forever, as much as we might like it to. :)
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Re: Cleaning Old / Yardsale Legos?

Postby Gooker1 » Wed Feb 02, 2011 11:44 am

Bringing back an oldie of a thread...

I recently purchased a sizeable lot of Lego sets, and I'm trying to figure out the best way to tackle it. There are 5-7 big sets (endor, home one, etc) partly built and the rest of the pieces laying in a plastic container. I want to make sure all of the pieces are there, but it's rather difficult considering sets are half built and pieces are stored away. My question is, should I just remove every piece from the partially built sets and color code them w/ the rest of the separated pieces and go through each instruction book one by one building sets?

Secondly - since this was previously owned, the kid apparently liked to color his clone/stormtroopers a bit. What's the best way to remove ink from the torsos and helmets? And is it possible to remove it WITHOUT damaging the printed pieces like on the chest?

Help!!! :)
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Re: Cleaning Old / Yardsale Legos?

Postby SuperDave » Wed Feb 02, 2011 12:50 pm

I'd say build to completion what's already been started. Then you can inventory those and the parts will be out of the way. Then move on from there.
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Re: Cleaning Old / Yardsale Legos?

Postby BobaFett » Fri Feb 04, 2011 6:36 pm

I also use lukewarm water and dish soap. I fill a plastic tub with water and let the pieces soak for a few hours.
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Re: Cleaning Old / Yardsale Legos?

Postby pacific493 » Tue Feb 15, 2011 2:59 pm

My favored method is to use Woollite bags that you can buy at Target. They have a very very very fine mesh that will prevent any small parts from falling out unexpectedly. Then I separate out the stickered pieces and any pieces with metal parts. Then I load the rest into the Woollite bags and put them in the bathtub (I generally wash 40-60 pounds at a time), which I then fill up with hot water and dish soap. I let them sit for 15-20 minutes, then agitate the water for a few minutes, then drain the tub and rinse the bags.

I have experimented with leaving the parts in the water overnight, but have found that it really only takes 15-20 minutes in hot water to wash off the grime and dust that I often find on older used parts.
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Re: Cleaning Old / Yardsale Legos?

Postby Gooker1 » Thu Feb 17, 2011 10:27 am

Do the pieces get scuffed up at all when being washed together like that at all?
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Re: Cleaning Old / Yardsale Legos?

Postby RfAurora » Sun Jan 15, 2012 12:20 am

I am sorry for necro'ing this post, but I need help with cleaning mine as I am getting ready to move from a smoker's environment to a non-smoking environment. Most of mine are starting to get that horrible residue built up as my parents have unfortunately started smoking more often.
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Re: Cleaning Old / Yardsale Legos?

Postby TheGeologist » Mon Jan 16, 2012 7:18 am

I just inherited my rather large lego collection, but they have 20 years of attic dust on them.

My method was to:
1 - break apart pieces (but not minifigs)
2 - fill a large sink or rubbermiad with warm, soapy water
+ If a sink, make sure to cover the drain well
+ For soap I use Ivory, I was told it is the mildest of the grease fighters, and I trust it on my infant's gear, so there you go.
3 - Soak for 30min, manually agitate three times
4 - drain using a fine pasta strainer onto towels
5 - dry on towels for 30min to absorb most of water
6 - move pieces into mesh bags (I have a bunch from camping equipment)
+ make sure you pay attention to the mesh size
7 - dry overnight and you're good.

I have heard that putting bricks in the laundry can cause them to scratch either other? Any truth to that?
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Re: Cleaning Old / Yardsale Legos?

Postby Bubblyhai » Wed Jan 18, 2012 4:00 pm

I just wash a load of lego over the weekend.

1) put old lego into a laundry bag
2) put in machine with a bleach
3) set to wash/rinse
4) after that set it out on a towel to dry

There was scratch on the lego. But the lego were used to being with and need a good cleaning. Plus it is a very quick and easy way to clean them.
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Re: Cleaning Old / Yardsale Legos?

Postby emmtwosix » Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:57 pm

BobaFett wrote:I also use lukewarm water and dish soap. I fill a plastic tub with water and let the pieces soak for a few hours.


Besides the printed or stickered pieces, this seems to work great for me as well and you don't have to worry about losing pieces down a drain. If you don't want to let them soak, you can take a toothbrush (preferably one you're not currently brushing your XD with) to take off the extra caked-on grossness. After you're done, I recommend letting them dry on a towel and/or using paper towels to help get water out of the places it likes to hide.

I did this with a V-19 and an AT-AP I got off of eBay a little over a year ago and the results were pretty amazing. I wish I had taken a before & after picture. They went from dustbins to "like new" in an hour or two.
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