We buy a ton of used LEGO bricks. As you can imagine, they come with plenty of germs and some we wonder what the previous owners were doing with the bricks that they are just so *nasty*. So we clean used LEGO bricks before we use them. If you visit the LEGO website, they recommend the following:
We recommend that you clean your LEGO parts by hand at max. 104°F / 40°C. Higher temperatures may affect the quality of the parts. You can add a mild detergent to the water – please rinse them well with clear water afterwards. Please don’t put your bricks in the washing machine or dishwasher.
That is, of course, the safest way to clean them. However, as you may well know from stepping on a brick in the middle of the night, LEGO bricks are super strong.
3 Ways to Clean Used LEGO Bricks
For those of you more adventurous sorts out there, here are several other approaches you can take for to clean used LEGO bricks:
1. Clean with a good old (soft) toothbrush and warm soapy water
If you want to protect your LEGO bricks from additional scratches and discoloration, this is the most recommended way to clean your bricks and/or remove crusted up gunk from any bricks. The downside? This takes some time if you have over 200+ pounds of bricks to clean.
2. Swish in a bucket with bleach, drain using a fry splash guard
Our first attempts at cleaning involved swishing around our new used bricks in a solution of water and a cap-full of bleach in a bucket, then letting sit overnight. This became a problem when we tried to drain the bucket with a fry screen in our sink. Sometimes the fry screen would slip and some of the smaller LEGO pieces would fall down the drain.If you have a strong grip and not too many LEGO bricks to clean, more power to you! Had us worried, though, so we moved to a new setup…
or, Swish in a bucket with bleach, drain using a perforated lid
I was going to make this a whole ‘nother way to clean LEGO bricks, but since the difference is only the lid, I thought I’d just tell you about it with the other bucket method.
My husband purchased a $2 bucket of FireHouse Sub pickles which comes with a lid. (Not with all the pickles in it, obviously… who could eat that many before they went bad?) He drilled a few holes in the lid of the bucket and it worked great for cleaning our bricks without loosing any of them down the drain. Just snap it on before you drain and voila! Easy rinsing with no LEGOs down the drain.
This method is our current way to clean used LEGO bricks.
3. Wash in the washing machine
While LEGO clearly does not recommend this option, I got this tip from an eBay LEGO store owner. Not loose, of course, but in a sealed pillow case. (We used zip ties in the above photo to keep sets separate for later re-assembly.)
Wash them in the regular cycle, with detergent and bleach and they come out sparkly clean in less time than leaving them in a bucket overnight. We tried this method thinking it sounded great. It was quick and easy. I loved it for the first batch we cleaned. However, the second batch didn’t fair so well.
We found a lot of older bricks broke in the wash and all of the softer pieces like plant leaves and whips came out looking worn and old. Because of this, we now mainly stick with cleaning method #3. Sometimes we do a combination of 2 and 3 where regular bricks get washed and softer items are soaked. We did notice some of the bricks got very scratched up as well, so we’re not quite sure how often we will use this combo cleaning method.
And obviously, VERY IMPORTANT, with any of these methods, you don’t want to put your electrical parts, such as cables, motors, battery compartments, in the water, because they *will* end up damaged.
After you’ve cleaned your LEGO parts, you can lay them out on a towel to dry for a few days, or use a salad spinner for more immediate drying results.
Here are a few other tips you might find useful when cleaning your LEGO bricks:
- If they smell, a bath with hot water and vinegar will sanitize and remove the smell.
- Toothpicks work great to pop off stubborn dirt pieces from LEGO bricks without scratching them.
- A quick spritz of hairspray and a good rub with a soft cloth can help remove stubborn dirt as well.
Want to do more of your own reading on the topic? You can check out the following blog posts where I got most of my extra information:
- LEGO cleaning techniques and tools at LEGO Answers
- Cleaning dirty LEGO on The Brick Blogger
- Best way to clean LEGOs on BrickSet
Now you know how we clean the LEGO parts and sets we sell. How do you clean your LEGO things?