Does your storage strategy consist of dumping all your LEGO® into a box or bag? If so, don’t tell me, okay? It makes me want to claw at my face.
You want to spend your time taking photos for your LEGO stop motion animation masterpiece. You don’t want to lose precious minutes looking for plastic pieces to build your set, digging through a bag as you search for a pink wig, or wondering if the big, scary axe is somewhere in the bowels of a full box.
Pinterest and YouTube will give you lots of ideas on how to store. Many of them are from LEGO-illiterate decluttering/organization experts on the one hand, and on the other hand, hardcore, foaming-at-the-mouth AFOL (Adult Fans of LEGO) who have so much LEGO that they have dedicated entire rooms to their LEGO love and/or invested in massive storage systems.
My collection is relatively small but I still need organization so that I don’t spend a lot of time looking for things. Confession: I still spend too much time looking for things, but the system I’m showing you below has helped a LOT!
The information below is what I wish I’d had when I started.
Keep in mind that I’m writing from the perspective of an adult. I take photos of LEGO and sometimes turn those photos into videos. So I think of minifigures as models and actors, and everything else as their sets and props. Also, I only build when I have to. I tend to not display sets and definitely don’t play with my LEGO.
If you mostly build one thing, such as trains, or collect only the little people, called “minifigures,” another system might work better for you.
Why you should sort your LEGO pieces
If you’re using your kids’ LEGO and they prefer to put common and rare pieces of all shapes and sizes together, then perhaps you’ll find the courage and patience to always be searching for what you want. Maybe that’s soothing for you. Or a mindfulness practice. Personally, I prefer to . . .
There are enough frustrating things in life. LEGO is fun. Walk up to your LEGO and have some idea of where things are rather than endlessly digging through piles of plastic.
Sell and Trade LEGO
Keep those sets and collectible minifigures together. When you no longer need them, you can trade or sell them. Built LEGO sets can be sold. A bag of loose parts means you may have left something out, so a buyer will either laugh in your face or offer you significantly less money for your stash. All those parts are treated as bulk, and you get bulk prices.
How to Sort and Store Your LEGO
Sorting LEGO by Color: Don’t do it!
If you sorted LEGO, either yours or theirs, by color, I’ll forgive you, just this once. You didn’t know any better, and that’s a better solution than combining everything into one box or bag.
There are many misguided clutter-clearers and master organizers who will make a storage area look beautiful with labeled boxes of LEGO sorted by color. They obviously don’t use the pieces of plastic for themselves.
I received a number of used sets, sorted by color, as a gift. I would spend an eternity picking through all the white plastic, for example, trying to find a tiny, specialized piece.
Don’t get me wrong. I was grateful to have been given the sets. By building them, I learned how LEGO pieces worked together. I was also able to trade them for parts and sets I really wanted, so that kept costs down. By going to the used-LEGO store often, I got to know the people who worked there, and learned even more while gaining friends who shared the same interest. That’s invaluable to a middle-aged, female LEGO fan.
But let’s focus: storage.
Keep LEGO sets together
If you’ve built something you like but are not playing with or displaying it, just put the entire build (a house, a car, etc.) into a box or a large, zippered plastic bag. Clear plastic is best, but any labeled box will do. Sandwich bags are handy to separate the builds inside the box. Maybe you’ve got space in a drawer, or a shelf protected from dust. That works as well. Keep the entire set together as best you can.
Store LEGO parts by type
You’re rolling your eyes, thinking I have a lot of free time on my hands. You do, too. Just decide on your priorities. I’m assuming that you want to be able to find LEGO pieces relatively quickly. Spend that time sorting now, or hunting through boxes later. I sorted parts while watching TV.
I sorted into 5 main categories: bricks, plates, stupid-making little pieces, minifigures and their accessories, and other parts. I have plastic boxes I’ve mentally labeled “Car and Maybe Machines,” “House,” and “Most Frequently Used.”
The best way to store LEGO bricks and plates
When I discovered this system, I was giddy with joy. Pee-in-your-pants joy. There were undignified squeals and happy dances.
If you have a huge collection, you’ll want to sort by type and then by color, methinks. I’m assuming you’re not there yet. This system perfect if you have a relatively small LEGO collection.
See how to build the towers and why on the blog with the super-cool name: Evil Mad Scientist. I’ll put the link below.
Sorting and Storing LEGO minifigures
Initially, I sorted minifig heads into towers. Female, dual-sided (two different faces on one head). Female, single-sided. Male, dual-sided. Male, single-sided. Non-yellow heads.
But when my collection grew, I needed another way. The photo below shows the brilliant solution by JangBricks on YouTube. Because of the placement of the heads, if they’re dual-sided, you can easily see the other face.
The little plastic bag on the side contains hands. I want them to be easy to find when a minifig needs gloves, or I want to put together an outfit for a black minifigure.
Initially, I had sandwich bags separating heads, torsos, legs, and accessories. Eventually, I started buying minifigures that were somehow special. They were either from Collectible series or harder to find, or I simply wanted to always have all their pieces together. Those went into a separate bag.
Having assembled minifigs in a large, zippered bag didn’t work for long. The special minifigs are now on a baseplate in a shallow box so I can see them all at once. This helps me see new possibilities.
Now I separate the accessories: torsos, legs, animals, weapons, food, musical instruments, tools, and “Other.”
LEGO Storage Containers
Much will depend on how much space you have and the size and type of your collection. For a small collection, you’ll want to consider:
- resealable plastic bags (sandwich bags)
- boxes with clear, plastic drawers
- shallow boxes and trays with lids and lots of compartments
- more sandwich bags
Storing LEGO building instructions
If you have many of them, you might need a filing system: a box with manila file folders, the kind you used to use for your taxes before you went paperless. The kind I still have.
Another option is to use a large binder with clear sleeves. Slide the instruction booklets in the sleeves and you’re good to go . . . with a huge, space-hogging binder.
Personally, I keep all of mine in a LEGO set box. You can see it in one of the photos above: Yoda’s Hut Star Wars set.
- Brick Studio Zee’s Pinterest board. I’ve created a Pinterest board with interesting LEGO storage solutions. Promise me you’ll ignore the ones that tell you to sort by color, okay?
- How to organize your Lego bricks for efficient building – Evil Mad Scientist
- JangBricks’ LEGO minifigure construction kit – JangBricks, a badass YouTuber and hardcore, family-friendly LEGO enthusiast
If you want to spend more time building and less time looking for the parts you need, create a basic storage system instead of dumping all your LEGO in a pile.
- Unless you need the parts for something else, don’t take apart a set. That makes selling and trading easier.
- Sort by type, not by color. Or sort by type first, then by color. But not by color alone.
- Build little towers out of bricks and plates, by size/type, so you can quickly see how many you have of a specific part and in which color.
- Remember to keep building instructions together in a way that makes sense to you.
In the comment section below, please share solutions that worked for you. Or that didn’t work for you. Those are valuable, too!