Did you know LEGO originated from a carpenter’s shop? Ole Kirk Christiansen, a carpenter in Denmark’s Billund, started making wooden toys in 1932. In 1934, he set up his company called LEGO, which comes from the Danish phrase ‘leg godt’ which means play well. Around 1947, Lego started making plastic toys and in 1949, the company came up with its first-ever interlocking bricks called Automatic Binding Bricks. These building blocks were based on Kiddicraft’s self-locking bricks invented by Hilary (Harry) Fisher Page.
Over time, the bricks made by the company came to be commonly known as legos and the brand name changed into the toy’s name.
We have all played with LEGO bricks and our creativity knew no bounds. From houses to cars and figures, we had our share of fun with the blocks. However, I remember how difficult it would be for my mother to keep my LEGO sets clean. More so as I had a peculiar thing for playing with the bricks at our backyard because I believed I was making a real house to stay. Come on! I was a child back then.
While the internet has a few ways to keep them clean, most of them do not work on LEGO pieces and often damage the bricks. Back in those days, I used to see my mother using a few tricks to clean them and I have personally come up with a few others. So here’s a list of methods for you to keep the LEGO pieces clean and safe for your little one.
- 1 How To Wash LEGOs
- 2 How To Dust LEGO Bricks
- 3 How To Remove Scratches
- 4 How To Restore Discoloured LEGOs
- 5 DO NOT List For LEGOs
How To Wash LEGOs
Different methods to wash LEGO bricks.
1) Washing LEGOs In Bulk
If you have a lot of LEGO pieces to wash at one time, then you may try using the washing machine. Use a laundry bag and put the pieces in it. Make sure to fasten the mouth of the bag as you wouldn’t want the pieces tumbling all around your machine. Plus, it may also damage the washer and the pieces may get stuck at the slots meant to drain out water.
After you have ensured that the mouth of the laundry bag is properly tied, put the bagful of LEGOs into the washing machine full of hot water and some soap. Ensure that the water is not too hot as it might damage the blocks by changing their shape.
After it is done, take out the bag and spread the pieces out under the sun. You may also use a towel to put the pieces on it but this may take a longer time as water stuck in the crevices of the LEGO pieces won’t dry. However, do not use a heater or a high-speed blower to dry the pieces as the heat may damage the bricks and it won’t be the same again.
When I used this trick to clean my son’s LEGO sets, it did turn out to be a quite noisy affair but this method is worth trying. Some washing machines come with removable centre spindles which might reduce the noise made. Also, do remember to use a strong laundry bag as LEGO bricks can be really sharp and may cut through the sides.
2) Cleaning The Pieces Using Your Hands
This is the ideal way to wash dirty LEGO pieces. In a tub, pour hot water not above 40 degrees Celsius and add some light dish soap. Agitate the pieces gently inside the tub by stirring them around with your hand.
While selecting the dish soap, make sure it does not have bleach in it as it may ruin the colour of the pieces.
After stirring the pieces, use your hands to rub the dirt off the pieces. Remember not to use a handful of pieces at one time as this may cause damage to the bricks. Once you have rubbed all the pieces, remove the pieces from the tub and wash the pieces with fresh water and strain them through a strainer or a colander and put it out in the sun to dry.
Here’s a small tip that I learnt from my mother. After removing the pieces from the water, use a towel or some soft fabric like cotton to dry the pieces to some extent. This way it will take less time to dry the pieces out in the sun.
3) Washing Grubby Or Sticky Legos
Some dirt can be really tough to wash off. If you have recently lifted some LEGO set from a garage sale and find grime stuck to the pieces, here’s what you can do. Pour some dish soap in a tub of water and put the LEGO bricks in it. Soak the pieces overnight as it loosens the grime and dirt.
The next day, use a soft bristle or a toothbrush to gently rub the bricks. Make sure to run the brush inside the nooks and crevices between the studs on both the sides of a piece.
After you are done, rinse the pieces under fresh water and strain the water using a strainer or a colander. Follow the similar process to dry the pieces as told above. However, be sure not to use a dryer or a heater as it will warp the LEGOs.
4) Removing Stubborn Dirt With Toothpicks And Cocktail Sticks
However, remember not to use the toothpick in a very rough manner as that may result in scratches.
5) Using Vinegar To Remove Odour
After the LEGO pieces are cleaned, it may smell of soap and cause irritation to a child. In this case, make a mixture of white vinegar and water in the proportion of ¼ or ½ vinegar of the amount of water you have used. Put the LEGO bricks inside and give the water a swish.
Leave the pieces for an hour and remove it from the vinegar water and let them dry under the sun after passing the pieces through a towel.
6) Using Baking Soda Solution To Remove Odour
If you do not have vinegar at home or want to use an alternative, use baking soda. Make a paste of baking soda and water which has a slightly thicker consistency. Apply the paste on the pieces and let it stay for a while.
You may also spray some vinegar after applying the paste. This will foam the baking soda and remove unwanted odour from the pieces. Once done, use fresh water to rinse the pieces.
7) Using Rubbing Alcohol
Though slightly tricky to use, rubbing alcohol works wonders on dirt. Take a piece of cotton or cloth and dip it in rubbing alcohol and rub a grimy LEGO piece. Remember not to expose the pieces to alcohol for a long time as that may cause damage to the pieces and may also fade the colour.
Rubbing alcohol can also be used to dry LEGO pieces. After you’ve washed your bricks, rub them with rubbing alcohol. Since it evaporates fast, it takes away water content from the surface.
As a tip, if you do not have rubbing alcohol at home, you can try out alcohol based hand sanitizers. Both normal rubbing alcohol and alcohol based sanitizers have the same composition. However, don’t forget to check if the hand sanitizer is alcohol based otherwise it won’t give the desired result.
How To Dust LEGO Bricks
Now, let’s look at how we can dust LEGO bricks.
1) Using Dusters
If you have kept your LEGO creation in the open, it is bound to gather dust. Covering it with a plastic sheet will destroy the show. In this case, you may use a duster as a piece of cloth may not be able to reach all the crevices between the studs.
You may use a synthetic or a feather duster and gently use it on your creation. Remember not to go harsh with the dusters as the feathers may get stuck at some sharp edge of some LEGO piece and come off. I particularly remember one instance when a feather got stuck in such a manner between two LEGO pieces that I had to dismantle the model and remake it. It was particularly pathetic as I was making a ship and had spent almost six days on it.
2) Paint Or Make Up Brushes
If your LEGO creation has gathered a lot of dust and you do not have a duster at home, simply use a paintbrush. Gently use the paintbrush on your creation as you wouldn’t want the pieces to be damaged.
However, here’s a tip. I have seen my mother using makeup brushes and when I sat to write this down, I asked her the reason and she said, makeup brushes have softer bristles and thus the chances of damage are less. You do not run the risk of putting scratches on the pieces. Additionally, she told me, it is prudent to use a bigger brush first and then a smaller brush. The bigger brush will help in dusting off dirt in general but you would need its smaller version to go inside the nooks and corners.
Note: By meaning paint brushes I have meant the ones used to paint houses and not the ones used to make paintings on paper. If you have the second form, it will work the same way as a makeup brush.
3) Compressed Air Dusters
The same that you use for your computer or laptop keyboards can be used for your LEGO creations. Compressed air dusters work wonders but this option may prove to be costlier as the cans are quite a pinch for the pockets. But if you are really passionate about your LEGO creations, you may always go for this option.
Alternatively, you may use a lens cleaner if you have a camera at home. Keep squeezing and blowing away dust from your creation.
How To Remove Scratches
Let’s learn about two tricks to remove scratches from the LEGO surface
1) Using Sandpaper Or Nail Filers
It could be terrible to see your LEGO pieces damaged with scratches or you may have bought some from a garage sale with a lot of scratches. Do not worry. Use sandpaper to gently rub on a scratch. Sandpaper basically smoothens the minute dents made by the scratches. You may also use a nail filer as it does the same job and is readily available at home.
However, do remember not to use very coarse sandpaper as it might just increase the scratches. Use the finer ones but if it does not work, you may use the medium ones. Preferably, go for the ones made with silicon carbide.
While using sandpaper on your LEGO pieces, be mindful of a few things. Firstly soak the sandpaper in water for 10 minutes and start rubbing on the scratches in a circular motion. Keep the sanding pattern irregular as otherwise, it may result in deeper scratches.
Make sure that a LEGO brick is clean before you start using sandpaper on it as sanding with dirt and dust may cause further scratches.
However, the sandpaper trick may not work on pieces like windshields. I had once kept my windshields along with other bricks and boy! Did I have to do a lot of work? However, if you love your pieces, you would always want to walk the extra mile.
To remove scratches from windshield pieces, use toothpaste that do not come in the form of gels. Directly apply it on the scratch and use a soft cloth to rub the scratch for some time. Rinse the LEGO piece and the trick should be done.
You may also use a paste of water and baking soda. However, before using the paste, remember to clean the LEGO pieces and then apply the paste and use a soft cloth in a circular motion on the scratch.
2) Using Liquid Acrylic
After it is dry, use a piece of a soft cloth and gently rub the places with scratches and it will give it a shine. However, do remember to clean your LEGO pieces before you dip them in liquid acrylic.
How To Restore Discoloured LEGOs
LEGO bricks are often discoloured if kept under the sun for a long time. However, there is a way to restore the colour by using hydrogen peroxide.
Before you use hydrogen peroxide, I recommend you to wear a pair of gloves though it is okay for your skin.
Take a flat container big enough to hold all your discoloured LEGO pieces and pour in hydrogen peroxide in it. You can get them at the medical stores or even at the departmental stores but make sure to buy 3% hydrogen peroxide as anything above that might be corrosive in nature.
After you have filled the container with hydrogen peroxide, put your LEGO pieces in them and make sure all the pieces are dipped. Some pieces may float and for them, use some kind of a weight to keep them submerged.
Once all the pieces are submerged, take the container outside and place it under sun. Remember, nothing apart from sunlight will work here because the UV rays are important to activate the molecules of hydrogen peroxide. The only other alternative is a UV lamp but it is not a very common household item.
You have to keep the LEGO pieces submerged for at least three to four hours but make sure to stir around the bricks every hour. This is necessary as hydrogen peroxide under the sun forms bubbles that keep the pieces afloat. It is important to keep all the pieces submerged as floating pieces will have marks on them along the water line. So make sure to keep an eye on the container every hour.
After three to four hours, you will see bubbles have stopped forming. This is when you know that the hydrogen peroxide has done its work. At this time, you will also see that the LEGO bricks are back to its original glory.
Drain the hydrogen peroxide and don’t worry, it is completely eco-friendly as after it stops bubbling, it is mostly water.
Rinse your LEGO bricks under fresh water and let them air dry or under the sun.
After your pieces have dried off, you may see marks on them (usually white). This happens only if the pieces were not submerged properly and the marks come along the water line as I explained before. However, do not panic. In such a case, use either a mild sandpaper or a butter knife and gently rub the place where it has gone white and you will see that the colour is restored once again.
DO NOT List For LEGOs
No matter what you do, we highly recommend that you do not do any of the following from our DO NOT list.
Here You Go!
- Do not use bleach as firstly, it is not safe for kids and secondly, it discolours LEGO pieces. Bleach also leaves a very irritating odour on the bricks.
- Do not use dishwashers as they are far too hot than what LEGO bricks can take. Too much heat can also melt your pieces or warp them and they won’t be the same again. Remember I asked not to use water above 40 degrees Celsius? Dishwashers generally run a temperature of 70 to 80 degrees Celsius.
- Do not use strong chemical-based cleaning products as they may discolour, damage or even pose a threat to your child after you have used some. Some people recommend the use of polishes that are used on plastic but I have purposely not included it because they are toxic and needs too much care to use.
- Do not use rough or coarse sandpapers as they may result in further scratches. Also, do not use sandpaper too roughly.
- Do not wash LEGO pieces in a bathtub while you are bathing your little one. A child may pull the bath plug and the bricks may choke your drains.
Did we miss anything? Please let us know if you know of any other methods that could be used for cleaning and washing LEGOs.
We would love to know which method did you end up trying and what worked for you?