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Cleaning dusty LEGO

by admin on December 3, 2010

in Care & Feed of LEGO

If you are displaying your LEGO creations on open shelves, eventually they will collect dust. However if you do a quick dusting on them on a regular basis, you can keep those dust-bunnies at bay.

The challenge of keeping LEGO dust-free is the studs on top of LEGO elements. It makes it hard to just wipe them off with a cloth, as you cannot get between the studs easily.

There are some other methods though, that are very successful in keeping your LEGO-displays clean. Check out the suggestions below! ;)

:arrow: DUSTERS: natural feather dusters or synthetic dusters that are used to keep small display-items clean works quite well for LEGO cleaning. If you use this method, I would recommend dusting off you LEGO collection once a month. Here are some you might like listed on Amazon: Feather Dusters

:arrow: BRUSHES: soft, natural fiber paintbrushes that artists use are very handy to get into small crevices. I would recommend getting a large brush for general dusting of your LEGO-displays, and a smaller one to get into small spaces. Makeup brushes also work wonderful! Again; I would recommend a once-a-month cleaning with this method. You can find them at local stores as well as a good selection on Amazon: Paint Brushes, Makeup Brushes


:arrow: COMPRESSED-AIR DUSTERS: this is a product used to clean computer keyboards and other small electronics. It comes in a can, and provides a tremendous amount of air pressure to expel dust, yet it is safe for delicate items. Compressed-air cans are available at office supply stores. It is not cheap (about $5/can), but it does a really good job at cleaning away dust. My experience is that if you do a throughout cleaning of your LEGO collection with this method a couple of times a year, it will keep your displays in tip-top shape. Here are some examples: Compressed Air Dusters

:arrow: VACUUM CLEANERS: Some small, handheld vacuum cleaners have an option of switching over to blowing out air, instead of sucking it in. They also have various large and small attachments to control the airflow. This is a good option for very large LEGO displays, mosaics, or sculptures, however because the airflow cannot be controlled nearly as well as with compressed-air dusters, it may blow off some of the LEGO elements that are not well attached. So, I would not recommend it for small LEGO displays with delicate details. Here is an excellent example of this type of vacuum cleaner:
Metro Vacuum MDV-1BA DataVac Pro 4.5-AMP Computer Vac/Blower


:!: WARNING! Never use a vacuum cleaner in its normal, sucking setting to clean LEGO! Your LEGO bricks will end up in the belly of the monster!  :(

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

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Ann December 31, 2010 at 3:44 AM

Thanks for posting this topic, I’m searching around for an easy way to keep my boys’ Lego sets clean/dust-free and these are great, simple ideas using household items! I also came across a youtube video on a lego-cleaning tool, Brick duster. Have you tried it before?
this is the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1iL68inyoIo

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admin December 31, 2010 at 10:31 AM

Ann, thanks for sharing the video! No, I have never seen this before, but it seem to work great! The person has an eBay store where he sells these. Here is the link:

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gina January 2, 2011 at 3:33 PM

Thanks, very timely.

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admin January 2, 2011 at 3:39 PM

You are welcome, Gina! ;)

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LegoMom June 7, 2011 at 3:54 PM

These are all great suggestions! I don’t want to lock my kids Lego away in some cabinet, and these are good ideas to keep them clean! the compressed air duster seems to work especially well! It is quite expensive, but you only have to use it a couple of times a year.

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Tobymacboy January 2, 2012 at 6:08 PM

One thing you forgot. A toothe brush! Use a new never-used toothe brush and it dusts easity. Just dont brush the stickers too hard!

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admin January 2, 2012 at 7:04 PM

Tobymacboy, yes that works too! Although what I don’t like about toothbrushes is the angle of the handle. I found it is easier to use regular brushes. Also, I’m wondering if the bristles of a toothbrush would be too harsh for LEGO. I guess a soft brush would be fine, but I wouldn’t use one rated hard. It may leave scrathes on LEGO elements.

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Tobymacboy January 3, 2012 at 3:53 PM

yeh i use a soft kids toothe brush i got from the dentist in one of those stupid bags

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Ashton6460 February 9, 2012 at 1:52 PM

Paint brushes… That’s a great idea;)

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admin February 9, 2012 at 8:25 PM

Ashton, simple works best! ;)

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Aaron July 27, 2012 at 12:54 AM

I like to use a camera duster brush. It’s like a little hand pump bulb that has a brush on the end so you can brush and blow air at the same time. And they only cost about $4.

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admin July 27, 2012 at 9:07 AM

Aaron, that’s a grat idea I never heard being mentioned! Thanks for sharing! ;)

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K July 30, 2013 at 6:37 PM

Another useful set of tips. tyfs!

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Håkan September 4, 2013 at 7:04 PM

My mom used to sort out Lego pieces sucked into the vacuum cleaner when she emptied it. That’s quite impressive.

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admin September 4, 2013 at 7:19 PM

LOL! Yeah, bless those moms who are willing to do that! :D

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Goofyhobbie June 5, 2014 at 6:22 AM

Admin,

As you probably know, overtime dust can get underneath a Lego sticker that has been placed on a Lego element. As a result the underside of the sticker becomes dirty and more often than not will began to peel off of the element that the sticker is decorating.

Naturally it is difficult to find replacement stickers and what to do about the peeling sticker is a mystery.

Have you or other commentators developed a good method for salvaging the original sticker.

One would need to know a practical and easy way to remove the sticker that has begun to peel away without damaging the sticker.

Then one would need to know how to clean the underside of the sticker to remove the dust and/or dirt.

That would then need to be followed up with a good idea about an appropriate way to re-apply the sticker to the element.

Any good tips or ideas to resolve the above mentioned common problem would be appreciated.

Goofyhobbie

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admin June 5, 2014 at 11:27 AM

Goofyhobbie, there are some stickers that could be salvaged, however really best is to just replace them. You can find pretty much every sticker LEGO ever created on BrickLink. Yes, some of them can be a bit expensive on retired rare sets, but it often ends up being cheaper then buying special restoring materials.

And for newly avaiable sets ALWAYS buy extra stikers sheets. These are readily available on BrickLink and only costs a few pennies. I usually buy 5-10 extra sticker-sheets for my favorite LEGO sets. If you store them in a ziplock bag, they pretty much stay fresh forever. I replace stickers on the set if and when they start to look bad, which could be many years. So 10 stickers sheets could last for like a 100 years! :roll:

As far as restoring old stickers, those that are torned, brittle and discolored really cannot be salvaged. For others that are borderline, you can use similar methods for cleaning and restoring them as what stamp-collectors do. One thing I found useful for the paper stickers (not the clear ones) is to coat them with a thin layer of clear nailpolish top-coat. This makes the sticker much more durable and last longer. Also, by using this method the white part of the sticker doesn’t peel off (the notorious problem you find on some older LEGO stickers like on the LEGO Viking shields).

For clear stickers the biggest issue is application. Once you touch the underside with your fingers they are already ruined. So it is best to take them off from the sticker sheet and apply them with something like the thin blade of an X-acto knife instead of your fingers. Once applied, and if never touched by your fingers, they are actually very durable – more so than the paper stickers. The reason dust goes under them is because of being touched by your hand and damaging the adhesive. If you don’t touch them, they apply much better and dust won’t go under them.

And it goes without saying is to NEVER display LEGO sets with stickers under direct sunlight. That is the biggest enemy of stickers. The adhesive starts to deteriorate immediately. It is not good for ABS plastic either, so keep your LEGO out of the sun is the best advice I can give. Hope this helps some! ;)

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