Shopping at LEGO or Amazon?
Please use our links: LEGO.comAmazon
As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Cleaning Bricks (Smoke)

50missioncap50missioncap Member Posts: 96
edited May 2012 in Collecting
I bought the lego city garage - missing a few parts - on BL a few weeks ago... it arrived and I was dismayed to discover that the previous owner had been a smoker. I mean, all these bricks reek of smoke... it's as if he tried to smoke as much as possible on this set. Can anyone advise on how to clean the bricks? I would like to display the set in my son's room / let him play with it, but I am hesistant as it is now.
«1

Comments

  • jwsmartjwsmart Member Posts: 298
    I've had some good success with using a nice strong smelling soap. My favorite brick-washing soap is the original scent Dial.

    Take it apart, wash it with a soap of your choosing in warm water. I like using old toothbrushes for the really dirty stuff. Just make sure you take it easy on the printed/stickered parts. I only really wipe the stickered parts off with a damp cloth with a tiny bit of soapy water.

    I've also had luck sealing up really smelly instructions in a plastic box with some cedar chips in it.
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,275
    When I did the research for my first LEGO Sets/Parts Collectors Guide back in 2007, I talked with a chemical engineer about the problem with smoky LEGO.

    He stated that with ABS plastic it is the "B" in ABS... or Butadiene in the plastic that absorbs the smoky smell. Unfortunately his solution for removing the smoke easily isn't exactly a household solution. He suggested that keeping the LEGO in a vacuum chamber for 24 hours would remove the smoke smell from the LEGO.

    However... since vacuum chambers seem to be confined to laboratories... that's not a practical solution.

    The washing as Jwsmart just suggested is probably your best bet. Also... you might want to put the LEGO on a towel and have an oscillating fan running back and forth drying the LEGO parts... as well as moving all the parts around a little in the drying process. When LEGO dries... it can leave waterspots... so quick drying is the optimal solution.
    Si_UKNZ
  • OrthobotrexOrthobotrex Member Posts: 165
    edited May 2011
    However... since vacuum chambers seem to be confined to laboratories... that's not a practical solution.
    What about that vacuum pump system from the old homeshopping TV commercials that uses large jars, a pump, and a piece of sticky rubber?

    If only we can send the bricks to space! Ha ha!
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,151
    I think you need to let the parts soak for a while to really get rid of a smoky smell. I guess it depends on the degree of smell.
    krklint
  • 50missioncap50missioncap Member Posts: 96
    Good call mad for... I'm thinking Oxy Clean...
  • jwsmartjwsmart Member Posts: 298
    edited May 2011
    However... since vacuum chambers seem to be confined to laboratories... that's not a practical solution.
    I actually work at one of those laboratories that has vacuum chambers (there's one outside my window right now!) but something tells me they're not going to let me put my LEGO in there...

    Anyway... the whole idea behind the smelly soap is not necessarily to eliminate all the odors from the LEGO, but to replace the smoke smell with a smell you don't find offensive in the short term - or is at least less offensive. Eventually (within a few months of just being in open air) that smell will go away too, and you'll be left with bricks that don't smell enough to bother anyone, unless you stick them up your nose.

    And generally, I don't recommend sticking them up your nose at all...

    I'll also second Istokg's comment about drying them quickly - leaving them submerged for a while is fine, but leaving them in a big damp pile is a surefire way to make sure they develop other, equally unpleasant smells. I typically spread them all out on a towel, and make sure they're nice and dry before I sort them or pack them away for storage.

    You may also want to avoid things that work via a chemical reaction. There's another thread on this forum about whitening LEGO that mentions Oxy Clean. So make sure you test it out on some spare bricks before you risk your fire station.
  • 50missioncap50missioncap Member Posts: 96
    Thanks JW... perhaps I'll just stick with Dial.
  • LegopantsLegopants GermanyMember Posts: 2,091
    DON'T USE OXYCLEAN!!!
    I tried it a while back on a whole load of old bricks that I played with as a kid. It took the sheen right off them - they now look dull and appear to have a white-ish, opaque coating.
    I think the best way to clean up smelly and/or dirty bricks is the "soak-in-warm-soapy-water" method as suggested by jwsmart and madfor... .

    Any suggestions for removing stickers and sticker-glue residue without the use of aggressive chemicals?
  • JP3804JP3804 Member Posts: 332
    ^ Peanut butter or WD40. I would use peanut butter it is easer to remove the oily film than WD40. I use this to remove stickers off of new windows when I install them.
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,151
    edited May 2011
    ^---what jp3804 said.. wd-40 works fairly well on sticker residue and also paint/magic marker as well, a little elbow grease is needed at times.. Also, and maybe it is just me, seems to also helps the bricks look a bit brighter as well, like they were hydrated or something.. maybe that is just me though (you can always try it on those Oxy'd bricks you have) Just make sure you wash the bricks well after WD'ing them or you will smell it and also if you have kids playing with them or plan to sell them...
  • LegopantsLegopants GermanyMember Posts: 2,091
    I didn't realise LEGO was intended for children too! ;-)

    Thanks for the sticker/residue removal tips. Hadn't thought of WD40 coz it stinks (and certainly hadn't considered peanut butter - crunchy or smooth?). Need a solution though - I buy a fair few used sets and many of them have damaged or wonky stickers that definitely have to be replaced with new ones before I put the finished set on show.
  • JP3804JP3804 Member Posts: 332
    ^ Doesn't matter. I belive anything oil based will work. We use peanut butter because it doesn't have the peto smell. Just put it on and let it set awhile.
  • meyerc13meyerc13 Member Posts: 227
    Interesting tip about Peanut Butter. Too bad it won't work for me since my dogs would eat the bricks.
  • AFFOL_Shellz_BellzAFFOL_Shellz_Bellz Member Posts: 1,263
    For stickers or glue residue I use goo gone. I read recently if your bricks are dull or scratched you can use Pledge's Future Shine on them by dipping then in a bowl of it. I have not tried this. http://www.walmart.com/ip/Pledge-With-Future-Shine-Floor-Finish-27-Fl-Oz/15136693
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,151
    For stickers or glue residue I use goo gone. I read recently if your bricks are dull or scratched you can use Pledge's Future Shine on them by dipping then in a bowl of it. I have not tried this. http://www.walmart.com/ip/Pledge-With-Future-Shine-Floor-Finish-27-Fl-Oz/15136693
    Actually to clean up a lot of light surface scratches on LEGO I have been using either Pinnacle polish, or Novus #2 plastic polish (which can work really well for LEGO 'Glass')
    Be careful rubbing though as you can start rubbing the top layer of plastic right off and then it will always appear foggy.. I use VERY little of the Polishes, but it does a decent job...
    Now the other thing that seems to work a bit to help LEGO parts recover from a drying process like polishing, eraser marks (for scuffs) and perhaps even if they sit is a soap with a bleaching agent too long you can try to use WD-40 to reinvigorate the color and feel of the parts, BUT be sure to thoroughly wash the part in water in order to get the WD-40 off, same with the polishes, as most time you will use this on the sides of bricks, but the polish can also get on the studs themselves, so I believe you will want to ensure clean parts for your kids to play with.

  • peterlinddkpeterlinddk DenmarkMember Posts: 170
    I recently bought a used 7991 Recycle Truck, that - somewhat ironically - stank horribly. I disassambled it, cleansed in warm soapy water, pre-dried the parts in a salad spinner before laying them on a towel outside (in the shade - not directly in the sun) for no more than 10 minutes.

    Worked like a charm, although there were some water/soap-residue, but that was easily removed with dry cotton pads (for makeup removal). I've since used the combination of salad spinner and air drying with great succes.

    The instruction booklet still stinks though ...
  • ThunderMagiThunderMagi Member Posts: 7
    I have started collecting lego (brand new, out of the box), and it's been an enjoying experience thus far. However, a family member smokes about once or twice a week in his room. My room is about 20 feet away from his, and my room doesn't smell like smoke, but I've heard that LEGO is extremely absorbent when it comes to smells. Is it possible that the LEGOS could get a smoky smell over time, and, if so, how can I prevent it from happening? Any help would be appreciated.
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,151
    Keep them in plastic bags and that may keep out most of the smoke.
    Or buy that family member a pack of nicorette :-)
  • jagdjhjagdjh Member Posts: 95
    I'm not sure how well it would work with Lego but we've eliminated odors from things by putting them in a bag with a dryer sheet. I would wash them first (I've used Dawn dish soap in the past with good results) and after they are good and dry keep them in the bag with a dryer sheet for a week or so. It couldn't hurt to try and may help.
  • nkx1nkx1 Member Posts: 719
    Perhaps you could use an air purifier in your room? That way, you could (hopefully) still enjoy your Lego without having to wrap it up in bags.

    I have to say, though, I would be much more concerned about health than Lego. Maybe you and some other non-smoking family members could band together and convince the smoker to do so outside (or better yet, not at all)!
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,151
    jagdjh said:

    I'm not sure how well it would work with Lego but we've eliminated odors from things by putting them in a bag with a dryer sheet. I would wash them first (I've used Dawn dish soap in the past with good results) and after they are good and dry keep them in the bag with a dryer sheet for a week or so. It couldn't hurt to try and may help.

    Do the dryer sheets work, or do they simply mask the smell?
    I know that I had a bad experience with someone that tried to use dryer sheets on LEGO, but they still reeked of smoke, so I had smoky LEGO smelling of reeking dryer sheet perfume..
    Not a nice combo.

  • ThunderMagiThunderMagi Member Posts: 7
    Thanks for all of the help, guys! I'm a bit OCD about the quality of my possesions...
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,444
    I bought a castle set that had the same problem. Unfortunately, it took time to absorb all that "smoke" therefore it's going to take time for the smell to dissipate. I would definitely wash them. I've had great success washing Lego in a dishwasher,but I only let it go through 2 cycles and always turn off the heated dry. Don't use dishwashing soap, the hot water should do just fine is disinfecting. Dry and then let them sit for a bit.

    NEVER use OXYCLEAN!!! As far as parts turning yellow, I have only had mild success in using hydrogen peroxide.

    Btw, I only smoke when I'm on fire :)
    madforLEGO
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,444
    Look at this crazy mess. Explain this to me? I guess all parts are not created equal.
  • krklintkrklint Member Posts: 502
    @Pitfall69, I was reading through this thread to see if anyone brought up the yellowing effect (and not from smoking). I purchased a collection of mid 90's sets in December, and the concept of pieces not being created equal is true!
    I ended up with some real yellowing on the Space Shuttle sets I acquired.
  • JosephJoseph Member Posts: 651
    ^ It's not in this thread, but there is discussion about it here: http://www.bricksetforum.com/discussion/497/un-yellowing-old-bricks
  • JosephJoseph Member Posts: 651
    ^ That's the main thread, but there's a bit scattered about too, like:
    http://www.bricksetforum.com/discussion/439/discolourationfading-of-bricks
    Also, while we're on that topic, here's an interesting tidbit about yellowing:

    As others have said direct ultra violet light -sunlight- can cause rapid yellowing, but so can darkness. The plastic is as ordered stable under normal conditions for a toy, this includes a day night cycle. According to LEGO qulity control too much dark is as bad for some of the secret formulas of the chemical companies as direct sunlight is for others. I recently confirmed this by keeping what was a pristine old grey SHIP in boxes in my basement for three years when I unpacked it, it was about 25% yellowed. Keep your bricks in translucent boxes!

  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,444
    ^Maybe this thread should be merged with the other.

    I'm just figuring out why half of the pieces on my plane are yellow and the others not?
  • krklintkrklint Member Posts: 502
    now to get the 10-year dust/dirt off these 1990's sets, and also build myself a translucent closet! Attic dust can stick something fierce to bricks!

    sidenote on yellowing: A friend of mine built a Lego theater some 15 years ago, and he has never torn it apart (we are talking about 6,000 bricks for the whole thing, and mainly in white brick). It has a wonderful patina now, and I've spotted about 4 to 5 specific shades of white on the exterior walls of this build. It is actually quite pretty.
  • beegeedeebeegeedee Galway, IrelandMember Posts: 380
    ^ sounds like it needs refurbishing..
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,151
    edited January 2013
    It seems that some bricks/plates are more likely to yellow or fade.
    I see a lot of my white 2x3 slopes (like what is on the airplane pic above) as a bit yellowed, or different shade than most other similar white slopes I have (i.e having the same 'texture'), it is a bit bizarre.
    I always have a hard time matching the colors of Airplane parts from a lot of old LEGO because you really want to keep the shading with similar bricks/slopes and not have the type of issues seen above (but to a lesser degree)

    I have found Novus No 2 Polish takes out minor to mod surface scratching (works great on Trans clear parts like windshields and I think WD-40 seems to renew the luster on to plates/bricks (just make sure you wash the parts thoroughly after using either).

  • icey117icey117 DenmarkMember Posts: 509
    THIS WORKED FOR ME:
    I had the same problem with 2 ebay purchases. The first I washed and scrubbed but it didn't help. So I left it beside my collection in an open box... Guess what: 6 month later the sets didnt smell.

    So when I got the medival village set stinking heavy smoke I left it in an open flat box in an alright-ventilated place... 6 month later. No smell!

    Demands patience but little work or chemicals! :-)
  • ThunderMagiThunderMagi Member Posts: 7
    Great tip, icey. Are you sure it didn't just mask the smell?
  • jockosjunglejockosjungle Member Posts: 701
    We were given some duplo bricks with a questionable odour, we used a couple of Milton tablets in a bucket of water, seemed to do the job. Milton is stuff you use to cold water sterilise baby bottles
  • brickmaticbrickmatic Member Posts: 1,071
    edited January 2013
    @Pitfall69 As I've mentioned elsewhere, different batches of ABS have slightly different chemical formulations because you can't mix plastic and get all the ingredients 100% in the same ratios. Close, but not exactly the same. Those small differences in additives to the ABS result in different levels of resistance to degradation. Therefore, different batches of bricks will have different rates of yellowing.

    @icey117 Like you say, time will take the smell away. The ABS plastic absorbs smoke particles in the air. If the air is smokeless, the particles in the ABS will diffuse away. If you want to speed this up, put the bricks in a vacuum. Brings the process down from months to minutes.
  • ThunderMagiThunderMagi Member Posts: 7

    @icey117 Like you say, time will take the smell away. The ABS plastic absorbs smoke particles in the air. If the air is smokeless, the particles in the ABS will diffuse away. If you want to speed this up, put the bricks in a vacuum. Brings the process down from months to minutes.

    Are you sure it will take all of the smell away? Maybe some residue can still be left in the plastic.
  • brickmaticbrickmatic Member Posts: 1,071
    ^ The theory of how it would work is sound. @icey117 put that theory into practice and it worked for him. He can't smell any smoke. Is it possible there may be smoke molecules still bound to the plastic in the brick after 6 months? Sure. But what difference does that make if you can't detect it? But who knows, maybe your nose is more sensitive.
  • ThunderMagiThunderMagi Member Posts: 7
    I suppose... But I wonder, can smoke stain Lego permanently?
  • icey117icey117 DenmarkMember Posts: 509
    @ThunderMagi Your kids won't care! If you want them absolutely smokefree and unspoiled... you gotta buy them brand-new! Second hand... is second hand! And the price is low for the same reason. :-) Mine are smokefree as much as I care... After that they get dried of with with window-spray or in lukewark water and soap. A bit more work... but that's the price of buying LEGO sets (new or old) on a budget. ;-)
  • icey117icey117 DenmarkMember Posts: 509
    edited January 2013
    ehm... the comment about "smokefree and unspoiled" was about the bricks!
  • ThunderMagiThunderMagi Member Posts: 7
    @icey117 Thanks... Though, let's say the Lego aren't for my kids (I don't have any, actually).
  • ShpadoinkleShpadoinkle 13 hours West of BillundMember Posts: 420
    Speaking of vacuums, has anyone tried putting the smokey pieces in one of those "space saver" bags that you normally put clothing and bedding in and then vacuuming out the air? I'd imagine you'd have to repeat it a couple of times but wouldn't the same principle as having a laboratory vacuum system apply?

    I think I'll try this today and see if it works. I just got a huge lot of SW sets off craigslist and my heart sank when I walked into the woman's house. I practically wanted to ask her "do you smoke cigarettes, or do you EAT them?!"
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,151
    edited February 2013
    ^--- That is interesting and I have thought about space saver bags at one point, then my attention got diverted to something else.
    I have been lucky to get LEGO lots where smoke has not been the issue, at least so far.. there are a couple I have yet to really delve into yet.
    Please let us know your results when you get them :-)

    I Have been fortunate enough to not run into many issues with smokey LEGO.. whether it is because I avoid lots that also appear to have really yellowed brick, or what, but so far so good.
  • ShpadoinkleShpadoinkle 13 hours West of BillundMember Posts: 420
    I've had a lot of good luck today experimenting with a space saver bag. I put the loose pieces in a bag and sucked the air out, letting it run for about a minute. Then I left the pieces for an hour, then did another minute. For small sets one or two applications seemed to be all it took, for larger ones more were needed.

    In all cases it seemed to remove 80% of the smoke smell. As one fellow above mentioned, a six month "air out" cured the bricks of the smoky smell, and this method seemed like it did about five months work.

    Definitely repeat the minute long vacuum treatment more times for larger sets. The #7250 only seemed to take two treatments, whereas the #7259 took five.
    Si_UKNZ
  • DwarfSleepyDwarfSleepy Member Posts: 20
    Anyone know of a way to get the smoke smell from rubber (technic) lego tires? All the above works ok (in the long run) with bricks, but I find the tires still smell of smoke after trying almost everything...
  • Poisso3Poisso3 Member Posts: 196
    I just got a Lego set in the mail from a seller who did not indicate it was coming from a smoker. What is the best way to remove the smell?
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 19,769
    Baking soda in a tub, put Lego in, leave for a week.
  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,950
    ...then remove from tub, and discard when you realize you cannot remove the smell.

    Seriously, good luck.
  • Poisso3Poisso3 Member Posts: 196
    Oh joy...
  • canon03canon03 USAMember Posts: 344
    Return it. It's up to the seller to disclose the FULL condition before the sale.
Sign In or Register to comment.

Shopping at LEGO.com or Amazon?

Please use our links: LEGO.com Amazon

Recent discussions Categories Privacy Policy Brickset.com

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. Sign in or register to get started.

Brickset.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, the Amazon.com.ca, Inc. Associates Program and the Amazon EU Associates Programme, which are affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.