Sorting and sanitizing barn found type

I received a couple cases worth of type when buying a Kelsey letterpress. The cases themselves are falling apart and the rats were all over, evidenced by their droppings. I don’t want to throw out the type, but it will be hours and hours of sorting. I’m not even sure what typefaces are there as they are all jumbled together. Any suggestions on how to go about sorting and sanitizing? I was especially wondering if there is a cleanser or chemical that I can just drop this stuff in to sanitize it quickly that is safe to use?

Any advice is greatly appreciated. I am new to printing so apologies for my lack of knowledge.

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Acetone should clean and sanitize that type.

A six-pack of beer will help with the sorting

I’ll defer to others on the cleaning/sanitizing, but for sorting, I’ve found the best way is to start by sorting it onto galleys by size, then sorting the sizes by typeface, then distributing each sorted font into a case (or keep it on a galley if it’s missing letters or other characters). It’s a great way to memorize typecase layout, too.

If you have small fonts, say 10pt or smaller, you might want to keep a magnifying glass nearby, particularly for typefaces like Old English, which can be hard to discern at small sizes.

Different metal, but I got many cases of Ludlow mats with long rodent occupancy. I started with soaking the mats in soapy water to dissolve the feces and urine. Brushing, gloved and masked, and careful drying followed.

I posted this a while ago:

I have been very successful cleaning type with the following method:

Soak in a mild solution of lye (Home Hardware), take very careful precautions when handling lye. Mix up the solution thoroughly, pour into the type, I use yoghurt containers. Less lye is better, a little will do the trick, experiment. Take care not to damage the type. Soak, then rinse. Then use a small ultrasonic cleaner machine (inexpensive, Ebay, 60 watts is OK). the dirt flies off, the type looks like new. Lead by itself is not a problem, take precautions not to ingest it, i.e. don’t eat or smoke at the same time, you will be OK. Keep kids away. The really bad stuff is the lead oxide, you probably will not see it unless you are also a type caster or for some reason you heat lead to a temperature over 800F. I am more concerned with rat or mouse droppings than lead. Spread out on an old towel. After the type is dry, soak the type in a solution of paint thinner and a little oil to give the type a very thin layer of oil to prevent corrosion, this is an important step. Clean type with no oil coating will start to corrode immediately in a damp environment. Set out on a towel to dry. Note that I do not recommend to do this with brass or copper materials.

Thank you all for the responses!