The three best tools for dusting your built LEGO sets

If you’re going to clean your LEGO bricks – and you really should – there are a few handy tooks that will make the job of dusting them much easier.

Working on filling your shelves with LEGO models is just the beginning – you’ll want to maintain your models’ lustre, too, which means keeping them clean. Nothing beats soaking old bricks in water and dish detergent (unless you have stickers!) and washing down parts can give your models that old shine they had when you first built them. Before you dunk your models in water, before a drop of detergent is poured, you’ll want to focus on dust first.

That creeping, ugly layer of grey and white makes your new models look like ancient relics. If left on the model for too long, it can build up and become more difficult to remove. It makes cleaning models in water trickier and stickier. Yes, dust is a real detriment to the LEGO sets you have on display. Personal LEGO collections are something fans are incredibly proud of, so your collection deserves to be protected in the best way possible – with one of these three essential tools.

A medium or soft bristle toothbrush

An unused (please) toothbrush can fit into those tough crannies and gaps in your favourite LEGO sets. The long body is perfect for reaching deep into a hollow set and loosening the dust enough to be blasted out with compressed air (here’s looking at you 75252 Imperial Star Destroyer). It’s also useful for cleaning between studs.

If you use a toothbrush with sharp bristles, you can remove thicker particles more easily, but you risk scratching the plastic LEGO parts. With a rigid toothbrush, it’s a tricky tightrope between removing all the grime and damaging the set itself. They may seem unyielding when you step on them, but LEGO parts are prone to scratches if you’re not cautious while cleaning. Be sure to practice your technique on some bricks that are less precious to you.

A makeup brush

Removing dust is made faster with a fine make-up brush. It’s an unorthodox cleaning tool with ticklish, soft bristles. While it’s a common solution for high-end, painted action figures, it’s also a great solution for dusting LEGO models without seeing those nasty hairline scratches. The long handle mean you can reach around corners if you’re deft, too, though not as easily as with the soft toothbrush.

Whether you choose a small concealer brush or a powder brush, you’ll find even settled dust comes off easily. It’s less suitable for deeper-set dirt and grime, but very useful for quickly removing wide layers of dust from flat, curved, and even jagged surfaces. There’s almost an art to the speed at which you can dust a set with one of these. As with the soft-bristle toothbrush, you should be sure to use a brush that’s just out of the packaging – not recently out of your make-up bag.

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Compressed air

If your keyboard is full of crumbs, grime or dust, your first thought may be: ‘Where did I leave the compressed air?’ It’s surprisingly just as useful for LEGO models, especially for clearing difficult dust particles that don’t seem to loosen. The toothbrush is deliberate and the make-up brush is fast, but nothing bests the power of compressed air on bricks. It can remove several layers of dust in a matter of seconds, making this an indispensable tool for your LEGO collection.

With so much power, it should still be used sparingly and with care. By blasting dust away with compressed air, you risk knocking off loose or fragile pieces. If you’re using compressed air near a drain or hole in the floor, it’s a recipe for disaster (but let’s face it, that’s a bad place to clean your LEGO models anyway). Remove all fragile assemblies and parts before you spray with compressed air, then clean the loose parts separately. Minifigures should be separated from sets, too, lest that Phase II Captain Rex disappears down a crack in the floor.

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