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Cleaning dirty LEGO

by admin on December 2, 2010

in Care & Feed of LEGO

Have you picked up a large tub of used LEGO at a garage sale? Did you find that some pieces were in need of some serious cleaning? Well, the good news is that LEGO is quite easy to clean and bring back to its original shine!

:arrow: WASHING: in most cases you can just wash the dirt right off with warm water and a mild soap or detergent.  Make sure the water is not too hot (no more than 104 Fahrenheit or 40 Celsius) as this can damage plastic. If the water hurts your hand, it is too hot! This is the safest way to clean LEGO, and it is not difficult to do.

:!: WARNING! Do not wash electric LEGO parts in water!

:arrow: SOAKING: if pieces are very dirty, you can first soak them in the soapy solution overnight (or even longer) to loosen up the dirt and grime stuck to them. Then later use an old toothbrush to gently clean the little nooks between the studs, and crevices on the bottom where dirt can still hide.

:arrow: RINSING: make sure you rinse off all LEGO pieces well so there is no residue left on the bricks from the cleaning solutions you used. Using a colander can really help in the process!

:arrow: USING BLEACH: if you want to disinfect dirty LEGO parts you can ad a LITTLE bleach into the water solution. 1TBSP/gallon of water is safe and shouldn’t damage your LEGO bricks. Make sure you rinse them well!

:arrow: USING ALCOHOL: for extremely dirty LEGO bricks you can use a bit of rubbing alcohol to wipe off grime. Keep the exposure to the alcohol brief (as longer exposure can fade the plastic), and make sure you rinse the pieces off fully when you’re done.

:arrow: USING A DISHWASHER OR WASHING MACHINE: if you have lots of second-hand LEGO to clean, you may consider using a dishwasher or washing machine. Place you LEGO in a mesh-bag used for laundry delicates, and use the gentlest setting (otherwise you can seriously damage parts). If you are using a dishwasher, only use the top rack! Make sure the water is not too hot!  

:!: WARNING! Do not use a clothes dryer or your dishwasher’s dry setting for LEGO as the heat can seriously warp them!

:!: WARNING! Do not place electric LEGO parts, parts with batteries, or LEGO tires in the washing machine or dishwasher!

:arrow: DRYING: Once your LEGO is clean spread them out well on a towel. Placing parts on their sides also helps so they don’t hold water. You may use an electric cooling fan to speed up the drying time. It may take a day or two for all your LEGO to fully dry.

You may also like to read these sections for further ideas:

Let your LEGO shine! :)


LEGO Brand Retail

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Giza May 8, 2011 at 10:28 PM

He-he! Love the picture! Clever use of the minifig hands!


admin May 9, 2011 at 3:09 PM

Thanks, Giza! :P


MorningCoffee May 16, 2011 at 4:53 PM

Great info, thanks! Especially useful if you get lots of second-hand legos!


admin May 17, 2011 at 10:16 AM

Yes, second-hand LEGO often needs a lot of TLC! :lol:


Giza June 3, 2011 at 1:32 PM

Thanks for this! I’m just starting to go thru my childhood legos. This is going to help a lot! can’t wait to have some shiny legos!


Tydroid Ninja of NINJAGONESS June 6, 2012 at 12:15 PM

I often forget to take lego pieces out of my pockets when i wash my clothes some times! oops! :oops: At least they are clean :P


Theo Ross July 6, 2012 at 12:49 PM

You can put a lot of the parts through your dish washer! They come out sparkling clean . I do it a lot with the second-hand ones I buy for my shop. :)


Vicky February 28, 2013 at 6:12 AM

I have a salad spinner that would be perfect for helping with the drying process.


admin February 28, 2013 at 10:20 AM

Vicky, yeah, that should work great! :D


K July 31, 2013 at 12:30 AM

This was very good, I can see a lot of people getting doubts cleared. You should do an index of your posts. Separate them in something like: LEGO 101:Cleaning, Finding, Shopping and then 102 ungluing, etc…XP

Great posts Sir.


admin July 31, 2013 at 9:14 AM

K, all posts are categorized as much as a blogging platform allows it; in categories in the left-hand side-bar. I also link related categories and articles at the bottom of each post. Hope that helps. ;)


Håkan September 4, 2013 at 4:03 PM

Any special tips about printed parts? I guess they would require some extra care?


admin September 4, 2013 at 6:21 PM

Hakan, yeah, I would be extra super careful with printed parts. I would not put them in the washing-machine with other parts, but try to clean them separately. Just soaking them in warm water with a mild detergent should be fine, but I would not touch the print with any abresive or scrubby cleaning supplies. Maybe a little alcohol to remove dirt around the printing, and wash it off right away. It’s a tough one. If you really want printed elements in perfect condition, it is probably best to just get a replacement part in better condition off of BrickLink.


Lou January 17, 2014 at 4:27 PM

I just finished washing about 40 pounds in the washing machine (not all at once!). I used the mesh bags, gentle cycle, and put a little bleach in with the soap to sanitize. They come out BEAUTIFUL! On to sorting!


admin January 19, 2014 at 7:47 PM

Lou, yeah, that’s a great method for cleaning large amount of LEGO! Have fun sorting! ;)


Maniac4Bricks October 5, 2014 at 2:10 PM

Thank you for this article! I’ll keep this in mind as I have some used LEGO I inherited recently that I want to wash.


admin October 5, 2014 at 10:34 PM

You’re very welcome. :)


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