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Cleaning lego with an ultrasonic cleaner

steve23094steve23094 Member Posts: 40
edited May 2017 in Collecting
I was cleaning my Lego with a soft toothbrush and a little bit of detergent and letting it air dry.  This is incredibly laborious and takes so long with the amount I have it will be like painting the Forth Bridge.

I'm considering investing in an ultrasonic cleaner.  I like the idea that it doesn't take any effort on my part (dunk it in and walk away).  They seem to vary wildly in price.  I would like to hear from anybody that has used one to clean Lego.  Is it effective?  What are the pros and cons?  What features should I be looking for in an US cleaner?  Do you use plain water or some sort of mix?  Which model did you buy and what do you like and dislike about it?  Is it noisy?

Thanks.

Comments

  • DedgeckoDedgecko Seattle, WAMember Posts: 799
    O_o

    Why would you need to scrub your collection with a toothbrush?  Or are you cleaning up a bulk purchase previously owned by a red-headed step child?
    Uberbrick
  • AstrobricksAstrobricks Minnesota, USMember Posts: 2,225
    ^ Pretty common problem with used Lego purchases and childhood collections. Just dusting won't do it. Washing in the washing machine in a lingerie bag gets a lot off, but some parts are too dirty or too fragile (long pieces that the machine may bend and crack/break) so they need hand scrubbing. 
    I'd also like to know if an ultrasonic cleaner would work.
    mustang69
  • gmonkey76gmonkey76 ChicagoMember Posts: 1,391
    Found this on YouTube 
    madforLEGO
  • steve23094steve23094 Member Posts: 40

    gmonkey76 said:

    Found this on YouTube


    Thanks.  I have seen that video.  It seems to be fairly effective but I was curious to hear from somebody with more experience.
  • DedgeckoDedgecko Seattle, WAMember Posts: 799
    3 minutes a part in the dunk tank vs, 5-10 seconds with a toothbrush.  Seems particularly wasteful unless you can dump in more parts.
    madforLEGOward
  • SprinkleOtterSprinkleOtter Member Posts: 2,720

    Dedgecko said:

    3 minutes a part in the dunk tank vs, 5-10 seconds with a toothbrush.  Seems particularly wasteful unless you can dump in more parts.


    I agree. Completely useless.
    madforLEGO
  • AstrobricksAstrobricks Minnesota, USMember Posts: 2,225
    I see no reason you can't put a whole pile of parts in at the same time, but I've never tried it.
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 9,207
    I just bought myself a stool to put near the sink so I can save my back and legs. Toothbrush and dish soap. Get a tub (I actually use an old cooler tray from a LEGO lot I bought so many years ago), and soak the parts for about 1 hour (I sometimes do it overnight) and use a toothbrush. It is tedious, but so far I think it is the most effective way to clean LEGO I have seen. If I recall, some have tried to use a washer and dryer with a clothing bag, but I dare not do that if the bag could break and spill LEGO all over the place (or dent the heck out of my washer and dryer).
  • AstrobricksAstrobricks Minnesota, USMember Posts: 2,225
    ^ I've done many loads of Lego in the BlockWash bags I bought on Amazon. I throw a bag or two in with a load of towels. It sounds horrible, but it works. Only problem I had was some old (70s/80s) long plates came out cracked, which is how I learned to hand scrub long skinny parts. (They also weren't very clean because the dirt was so old and stuck on.) I've also found that Lego pieces naturally join up in the washer, making for some interesting combinations.

    Definitely DO NOT put Lego in a dryer! Just lay out on a towel to air dry. 
    madforLEGO
  • steve23094steve23094 Member Posts: 40
    Thanks for the comments but I'm really only interested in hearing from people with experience of using an ultrasonic cleaner.
  • steve23094steve23094 Member Posts: 40
    edited May 2017
     












    Dedgecko said:





    3 minutes a part in the dunk tank vs, 5-10 seconds with a toothbrush.  Seems particularly wasteful unless you can dump in more parts.










    I agree. Completely useless.





    This probably shows an ignorance of how US cleaners work more than anything else.

    For example :


    77ncaachampsmustang69DedgeckogifinimCyberdragon
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,393
    edited May 2017




    Thanks for the comments but I'm really only interested in hearing from people with experience of using an ultrasonic cleaner.


    It is not time effective as the machines are so small, unless you buy an industrial sized machine. They are fine for jewellery or for doing a few lego parts, but if you want to clean bulk lots then you are going to need to use another method, such as the soak then brush method as above that you don't want to hear about.
    SprinkleOtter
  • BobflipBobflip Member Posts: 462

    gmonkey76 said:

    Found this on YouTube 


    Funny, along with a few others, I have the exact same piece in a takeaway container roughly the same size on my desk right now waiting to be cleaned!

    I can see the usefulness of these. A bit bigger would be preferable, but even though it takes a 3 minutes rather than a few seconds with a toothbrush, you can just leave it and do other stuff. Cleaning a bulk lot with a toothbrush can get very tedious and sore on the fingers - more so than putting a new pile in the water every now and again.
  • wagnerml2wagnerml2 Belleville, IllinoisMember Posts: 1,376
    I have one that I use.  My father-in-law is an optometrist and he had an extra one in the basement of his practice that I commandeered.  It works very well and is not noisey at all.  Just a light buzzing sound.  I use hot water and sometimes just a touch of dish detergent.  I use a salad spinner to dry.  Works very well.
    TyresOFlahertymustang69DedgeckoFizyx
  • elspankdogelspankdog TexasMember Posts: 403
    I place the parts inside a beaker filled with water inside the cleaner so I don't have to clean the water in the actual cleaner.  I have a large one at my work.
    Dedgecko
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,393
    I think that is probably it. If you can get one or use one for free, then use it. However, I wouldn't purchase a small jewellery one for £40 for using on lego. You really need a 5L plus size, probably 10L, if you want to clean large dirty lots. Is it worth spending £400 (probably same in dollars) or so on one? In my view no.
  • steve23094steve23094 Member Posts: 40
    edited May 2017


    CCC said:


    I think that is probably it. If you can get one or use one for free, then use it. However, I wouldn't purchase a small jewellery one for £40 for using on lego. You really need a 5L plus size, probably 10L, if you want to clean large dirty lots. Is it worth spending £400 (probably same in dollars) or so on one? In my view no.




    You can get a 9L for £150.  For example: https://www.amazon.co.uk/GT-Ultrasonic-Stainless-Transducer-Adjutable/dp/B01M0H3BUT/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1494324858&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=ultrasonic+cleaner&th=1

    Is my time worth £150?  If it's effective, yes.
    Dedgecko
  • steve23094steve23094 Member Posts: 40


    I place the parts inside a beaker filled with water inside the cleaner so I don't have to clean the water in the actual cleaner.  I have a large one at my work.


    Overall how good a job does it do?  Are there any issues with overcrowding the Lego pieces causing a less effective clean?
  • Fuzzy_ThoughtsFuzzy_Thoughts MichiganMember Posts: 5
    Thanks steve23094 for the link!  With a huge collection that spans 40 years I am always looking for a better way to clean parts (other than getting dishpan hands as I do now!). I put it on my Christmas Wish List! Hopefully Santa is listening!
  • steve23094steve23094 Member Posts: 40


    Thanks steve23094 for the link!  With a huge collection that spans 40 years I am always looking for a better way to clean parts (other than getting dishpan hands as I do now!). I put it on my Christmas Wish List! Hopefully Santa is listening!


    I think I'm going to give that one a whirl at some point.  I'm just aware that it will be expensive to return if it doesn't do a very good job, it will be heavy and bulky.
  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,228






    Thanks steve23094 for the link!  With a huge collection that spans 40 years I am always looking for a better way to clean parts (other than getting dishpan hands as I do now!). I put it on my Christmas Wish List! Hopefully Santa is listening!




    I think I'm going to give that one a whirl at some point.  I'm just aware that it will be expensive to return if it doesn't do a very good job, it will be heavy and bulky.


    Please let us know how it goes. I had never considered cleaning my dirty LEGO using this technique before I read this thread, but am now very tempted.... 
  • bok2bok2 Member Posts: 53
    I would very much recommend NOT to use a toothbrush for cleaning Lego - soft or not, the nylon will scratch the ABS. I always use a dish washer brush with natural hairs.
    DedgeckoPatsyWalker
  • darkstonegreydarkstonegrey USAMember Posts: 15
    I wonder how well this would work:
    https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/dolfi-next-gen-washing-device-design-travel--2#/

    Looks to be a better value as it can be used in different sized containers. Not sure it's available yet tho. The project was successfully funded last year.
  • steve23094steve23094 Member Posts: 40


    I wonder how well this would work:
    https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/dolfi-next-gen-washing-device-design-travel--2#/

    Looks to be a better value as it can be used in different sized containers. Not sure it's available yet tho. The project was successfully funded last year.


    It's been done before and it didn't turn out too well.


  • darkstonegreydarkstonegrey USAMember Posts: 15
    edited May 2017










    I wonder how well this would work:
    https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/dolfi-next-gen-washing-device-design-travel--2#/

    Looks to be a better value as it can be used in different sized containers. Not sure it's available yet tho. The project was successfully funded last year.






    It's been done before and it didn't turn out too well.




    First off, nobody with any inkling of how to treat stained clothing would go about washing in that way, in a traditional washing machine let alone using ultrasonics. Adding that much detergent to such a small volume of washing can actually inhibit effectively cleaning the clothes. No pre-soak, no changing out the water which would be necessary for that level of soiling.

    Secondly, observing the resulting wave action of the device in that video isn't much different from how the conventional ultrasonic baths perform as seen in the other posted videos in this thread. If your LEGO are covered in mustard and ketchup then ok, maybe this isn't going to work so well.

    I'm still interested to see how it would perform on LEGO in reasonable cleaning applications.
    catwranglerPatsyWalker
  • steve23094steve23094 Member Posts: 40
    edited March 14
    So here we are almost two years later and I have some news to report.

    My considerable Lego collection on open display doesn’t get dusted.  Dust has been building up for an awful long time, so much that it starts to form a ‘greasy’ film.  If you haven’t dusted something in a long time you know what I’m talking about.  I was looking for a shortcut to bulk clean my Lego that didn’t involve considerable effort and would not damage anything.

    I had been watching the price of a GT Sonic 6L ultrasonic cleaner on Camelcamelcamel, waiting for a good deal.  I managed to buy one from Amazon for £72.

    I added some dish washing liquid, heated the water up to 50C and set the timer for 45 minutes.  I put it through two cycles because I wanted to give it the best possible chance to work.  When pulled out the Lego still had the film on it but it was very quick and easy to wipe it off with a cloth or paper towel, and then rinse under a tap (rinsing alone did not remove the film).

    I then did another run with the same parts (symmetrical model), with dishwashing liquid, heating the water to 50C but no ultrasonic cleaning.  The result for all intents and purposes was identical.

    My conclusion is that an ultrasonic cleaner does not work for cleaning Lego.  But just soaking it in warm water and dishwashing liquid does(ish).

    I’m assuming the people posting videos on YouTube showing ultrasonic cleaning never attempted a control test.
    madforLEGOFizyxsnowhitieLittleLori
  • DeMontesDeMontes North YorkshireMember Posts: 498
    samiam391 said:
    So here we are almost two years later and I have some news to report.
    Two years waiting on a "good deal" for an ultrasonic cleaner only to find out it doesn't work effectively.

    We appreciate your sacrifice and news report. Not all heroes wear capes.
    So did you return it  @steve23094
    SprinkleOtter
  • steve23094steve23094 Member Posts: 40
    DeMontes said:
    samiam391 said:
    So here we are almost two years later and I have some news to report.
    Two years waiting on a "good deal" for an ultrasonic cleaner only to find out it doesn't work effectively.

    We appreciate your sacrifice and news report. Not all heroes wear capes.
    So did you return it  @steve23094
    I did. I didn’t have any other use for it.  I got a free return through Amazon.
    MaffyDSirBendrdavewatfordsnowhitieHugeYellowBrickLittleLori
  • Switchfoot55Switchfoot55 The Northwest, USAMember Posts: 1,388
    Thanks for the update @steve23094. As someone who has purchased a fair amount of bulk Lego, I know the pain of brushing individual pieces to clear them of the grime. As a tall guy too, it seems to stress my back even more as most kitchen counters/sinks seem to be made for people 5'2" or shorter. 

    My current strategy is long soaks in warm soapy water, rinse, wipe them off with a towel, then dry. I can run several batches at once and can move through a rather large bin over a short amount of time. 

    Bummer your ultrasonic option didn't end up working out. It would have been a worth-while investment had it done the trick!
    drdavewatford
  • PolyphemusPolyphemus Sydney, AustraliaMember Posts: 87
    As a tall guy too, it seems to stress my back even more as most kitchen counters/sinks seem to be made for people 5'2" or shorter. 
    I hear ya, one of my dreams is to renovate my kitchen with customised 'tall guy' benchtops. Problem will be finding suitably tall people to sell to if/when I move somewhere else...
    Switchfoot55
  • oldtodd33oldtodd33 Denver 4800 miles to BillundMember Posts: 2,391
    I'd love to have tall guy counters but unfortunately my wife is 5' 2".
    SumoLegoBumblepantsPolyphemus
  • AstrobricksAstrobricks Minnesota, USMember Posts: 2,225
    oldtodd33 said:
    I'd love to have tall guy counters but unfortunately my wife is 5' 2".
    She can wear heels :)
    SprinkleOtteroldtodd33
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 11,595
    She can wear heels :)
    Did I stumble into a Don Draper fan appreciation forum?

    (I would just get her a hoverboard.)
    gmonkey76SprinkleOtterBumblepantsSwitchfoot55oldtodd33
  • BumblepantsBumblepants Sofia BG/Dallas TXMember Posts: 5,590
    oldtodd33 said:
    I'd love to have tall guy counters but unfortunately my wife is 5' 2".
    Does the Ford Superduty in your profile pic come with a rope ladder for her to get in?
    AstrobricksSumoLegoSprinkleOtteroldtodd33gmonkey76
  • BobflipBobflip Member Posts: 462
    Thanks for your research @steve23094, I'd been wondering about these as well!
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 11,595
    oldtodd33 said:
    I'd love to have tall guy counters but unfortunately my wife is 5' 2".
    Does the Ford Superduty in your profile pic come with a rope ladder for her to get in?
    Trampoline... or she carries around a retractable vaulting pole.
    MaddinBricksSprinkleOtter
  • oldtodd33oldtodd33 Denver 4800 miles to BillundMember Posts: 2,391
    She can wear heels :)

    She doesn't like heels. Besides, the floor is tiled. 

    (I would just get her a hoverboard.)

    She would like a hoverboard but she'd spill every dish she cooks going back and forth from the sink to the stove. 


    Does the Ford Superduty in your profile pic come with a rope ladder for her to get in?

    I don't lift my trucks so it's stock height. She doesn't mind driving them but prefers her Jeep. 


    Trampoline. 

    We do have a trampoline ( I won't abbreviate that one when discussing my wife).
    gmonkey76
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