How to Clean a Printer

One of the biggest mistakes people make with their electronic devices is waiting for problems to occur before taking any action. They take reactionary action when the path to longevity with any electronics is taking preventative action from the day of purchase.

Cleaning a printer should be part of regular maintenance. It should be planned at frequent intervals, rather than something done on a whim. Don’t wait for your printer to start producing substandard prints before you start doing something.

Now, the question is, ‘How do I clean my printer?’.

In this article, we’ll share a few secrets with you to maintain printer health and ensure that your printer is kept in top shape for the long term.

There is a difference between inkjet and laser printers, so we will deal with these separately.

Inkjet Printers

Inkjet printers are popular printers for home office setups. They work by spraying thousands of ink droplets to create text or images on the print media being used.

This method of printing can lead to the print head, getting clogged up over time. While the printers will try to do self-maintenance, a proper clean will help ensure high-quality prints.

What do I need to clean an inkjet printer?

Ensure you have the following available before attempting to clean your printer:

1. Rubbing alcohol
2. Cotton swabs
3. Vacuum cleaner or canned air
4. A clean cloth

Inkjet Printer Cleaning Process

1. Carefully remove ink-head/cartridge(s)
2. Use rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab to carefully and gently clean the print heard contacts.
3. After cleaning with the cotton swab, run a little of your rubbing alcohol over the print head. This will remove any fibers that have come away from the cotton swab.
4. Use a clean cloth to wipe any excess ink residue from the nozzles.
5. Using the vacuum cleaner (preferable a handheld) on a low setting, remove any dried ink and dust particles from the printer.
6. Carefully return the ink-head/cartridge(s) to their correct positions
7. Do a print test to ensure that all excess ink has been removed and that the printer is delivering top quality.

Remember, it is a good idea to cover your printer to protect it from settling dust when it is not in use.

Laser Printers

Laser printers don’t spray ink the same way as an inkjet printer does. Instead, they use toner.

Toner is a powder. This powder is melted onto paper, which is why toner printers get quite hot.

These printers can get through a lot of work very quickly, which is why they are the go-to printers for offices and businesses.  Regular maintenance is necessary to ensure they are consistently running at 100%.

What do I need to clean a laser printer?

1. A disposable toner cloth
2. A dust mask (essential as you don’t want to breathe in toner particles)
3. Latex gloves (will help avoid irritation)
4. Alcohol wipes

Laser Printer Cleaning Process

Before we get into the cleaning process, remember that this type of printer is much more complicated than an inkjet.

If you are not confident about the cleaning process, it is better to leave it to a professional. Also, check your printer’s warranty. This may be voided if you attempt to clean the printer.

1. Switch the printer off an hour before cleaning

Laser printers require heat to transfer toner. Thus, they get very hot, especially if running for a long time. To avoid burns, turn off the printer an hour before you want to clean it. Remove the plug from the socket, and wait for it to cool down. If you aren’t near the printer, make sure others know not to use it during this time.

2. Put on your dust mask and latex gloves

Toner particles can cause health problems if inhaled. Ensure you are masked up before doing any work with the printer.

The latex gloves need to be worn so that you avoid skin irritation.

3. Remove the drum

You should be able to open the back of the printer where the imaging drum is kept. If you are sure the printer has cooled down, this is where to begin.

Remove the drum and keep it in an area where it is protected from the light.

4. Remove the toner cartridge

Check your printer’s manual for how to remove the toner cartridge, and then do this. Once it is out, use the toner cloth to remove any excess powder that may be on the cartridge.

Remember, toner cartridge particles can remain airborne for up to fifteen minutes. Consider this before removing your dust mask.

5. Blow out dust

Using the canned air or vacuum cleaner (best done with a nozzle), blow the dust out from around the drum and corona wire.

6. Clean corona wire (optional)

It is perhaps better to leave this part to a professional. However, if you want to brave it, you can.

Use an alcohol wipe to remove any toner and dust that remains on the corona wire after the blowout.

7. Reassemble the removed parts

Add your new toner cartridge, reinsert the drum, and then turn your printer back on.

Run a test print to make sure everything is working normally.

How often should I clean my inkjet or laser printer?

Clean your printer a minimum of once every 6 months if it is an infrequently used printer.

For printers that are running for hours every day, you should look to clean the printer after every 300 hours of operation.

Final Word

Cleaning a printer correctly and with regularity (especially with frequently used printers) is vital if you want to keep the printer running smoothly over the long-term.

Remember, the process for cleaning an inkjet printer is more complicated than that of a laser printer.

However, should you not feel comfortable with cleaning either type of printer, it is better to let a professional do the job.

If choosing to do the job yourself, remember to stay safe. Don’t forget to read the manual to make sure you are removing parts correctly. Finally, make sure you aren’t voiding any warranties by opening up your machine.

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