Removing permanent marker from LEGO pieces

[From the question: How do I remove permanent marker or Texta from LEGO bricks? How to I remove ink from LEGO bricks? How do I remove pen or Biro marks?]

When working with older or second-hand LEGO bricks, it is not unusual to find some of the pieces have been marked with a permanent marker. This can be difficult to remove if it has been on the bricks for some time.

Ben Tomlins from Brickoholics has recommended the use of hand sanitizer to remove permanent marker. He found it was removed without any damage to the print – something that is quite important to those wishing to use the parts for other creations.

Photo credit: Ben Tomlins

The active ingredient is a form of ethanol (alcohol), which dissolves the ink. If you don’t have any hand sanitizer to hand, the following products will produce a similar result:

  • Whiteboard markers – draw over the permanent marker and wipe off. This is the method commonly used by teachers to remove permanent marker from whiteboards
  • Isopropyl Alcohol – available from some supermarkets and pharmacies. Use on the end of a cotton bud or cloth
  • Hand or sanitizing wipes (such as Wet Ones) – check that it has alcohol as an active ingredient as there are a number of brands that are “alcohol free”
  • Methylated spirits
  • Shaving foam/lotion/creme  – most of these contain low levels of alcohol in the form of glycerol

Other products that can be used to a lesser extent include:

  • Eucalyptus oil – use sparingly as it may melt the LEGO brick
  • Magic Eraser (white sponges) – will remove the ink but may also remove the print and may dull the surface of the brick.

Washing LEGO bricks

[From the question: How do I wash LEGO Bricks?]

There sometimes comes a time when you need to wash a pile of LEGO bricks. It might be because they are dirty from regular use or, maybe, you have purchased a pile of pre-loved bricks. Either way, there are many different ways to wash LEGO bricks. Here are some of the suggestions:

We don’t recommend washing items with stickers, electronic parts or paper in this fashion. Make sure they are removed first and are cleaned with a damp cloth. Do not immerse them in water.

1.Washing machine

This is perhaps one of the easier ways to wash LEGO Bricks. Place the bricks in a delicates/lingerie bag or a pillow case and place in the washing machine as you would with regular washing.

Tips for using this method:

  • Use a cold or warm wash
  • Add towels or something similar to prevent the bricks slamming against the walls of the washing machine
  • Don’t over fill the delicates/lingerie bag or pillow case
  • Make sure the pillow case is sealed shut either by knotting the end or using a twist tie
  • Ensure the pillow case is not worn. Older pillow cases are likely to rip from the LEGO bricks and you’ll end up with LEGO bricks loose in your machine (personal experience). If you are particularly concerned, double up and use two.

Once the cycle has finished, spread out the LEGO bricks on a towel to dry. You may need to flip some of the bricks over the make sure they don’t hold any water. If you have a salad spinner, run the bricks through it to remove some of the excess water. This will reduce the drying time.

2. Dishwasher

Similar to the method for the washing machine but make sure you only use the top rack

3. Bathtub (or sink/basin)

This method is great for those without a washing machine or dishwasher.  Fill the tub with cold or warm water. Swish the water around a bit and leave to soak for a bit. Swish the water around some more and then drain water and rinse the bricks. Again, spread the bricks out on a towel to dry. You may find that some bricks are not totally clean and may need redoing.

4. Individually, by hand

Sometimes  you have to use this method if the bricks do not clean as well as you had hoped. I recommend the use of a “magic” white sponge – especially for removing marker pen or other types of ink. The sponges are usually available in the “sponge” section of your local supermarket. Sometimes they can be purchased from discount stores which can be more economical as they do not last very long.

Some people like to use a toothbrush but this can damage the bricks if you press too hard.