A dirty printer can cause a number of unwanted issues. Accumulated dust, gunk, toner, ink and other particles can cause spotty print jobs and paper jams. When ink from leaking cartridges accumulates on the interior components, you get lousy print quality.
Clogged inkjet printer head nozzles can also wreak their own kind of havoc on the quality of your print jobs and can negatively impact the life of your printer. Here are some tips on how to clean your printer, in addition to some helpful printer maintenance pointers that’ll serve to keep your printer running smoothly.
Before You Begin
The first thing to know about cleaning your printer is that you don’t necessarily have to clean the interior. Ink and toner residue inside of your printer is normal and does not impact its performance, as long as the ink isn’t caking over actual printing components or getting in the way of the paper feed. Remember that rubbing down the interior of your printer with alcohol or other cleaning agents might do more harm than good. As a rule of thumb, limit your cleaning to the print cartridge, printer heads, paper rollers and exterior casing only. If you do have to perform any interior wiping down, the only kind of agent you should ever use is distilled tap water. Remember to turn off and unplug your printer before proceeding.
Using the Automatic Cleaning Utility
Inkjet and laser printers have a built-in utility that cleans printer heads automatically. You can access this a number of ways, but one of the most common methods is to launch your printer software and find the “clean” function. Make sure to refer to your printer’s user guide for alternate methods that may be performed straight from the button pad. The automatic cleaning process requires a blank sheet of paper and will use up some of your toner or ink as the printer as it performs the programmed cleaning cycle. Never turn your printer off in the middle of this task. When the cycle is complete, you can print a test page to determine if cleaning was successful. Repeat the process if necessary. If this doesn’t significantly improve the quality of your printouts, it may be time to follow some of the steps below to physically clean your printer.
Cleaning the Paper Rollers
Paper rollers are the mechanisms that feed printer paper in and out. The better maintenanced they are, the less risk of paper jams and misaligned print jobs. To clean your paper rollers, remove any paper from the paper tray, followed by the paper tray assembly itself. Depending on the kind of printer you have, you may have to remove the print cartridge assembly to get to the paper rollers. From here, simply brush, wipe, vacuum, or blow out any accumulated dust and debris that has collected. If using a vacuum, stick with a dedicated computer vacuum to prevent from causing any damage.
Use a Computer Vacuum
Dust accumulation can cause the quality of your print jobs to suffer. One of the simpler, less invasive methods of cleaning the inside of your printer is to use a computer vacuum to suck out stray hairs and lint. Although it may seem easier to do so, don’t use cans of compressed air. These sometimes spray moisture, which doesn’t always mix well with electronic components. While you’re at it, vacuum out the fan vent to keep your printer running smoothly without overheating.
Cleaning Your Print Cartridge Assembly
You can clean out your print cartridge assembly of accumulated toner and ink by first removing the printer cartridge from the cartridge assembly and wiping the cavity clean. Because you don’t want to damage any of the electronic components, it’s best to clean out the cavity with dry, lint-free cloth. Once you’ve done this, replace the cartridge and the assembly.
Printer Maintenance Tips
Turning off your printer before the cartridges have had time to return to their standby position can leave them exposed to dust accumulation. After completing a print job, always wait until the printer heads have reset their position.
It’s also important to stay on top of downloading updated drivers the manufacturer recommends. Updates can be set to run manually or automatically in your printer settings. Doing so keeps your printer running smoothly and can prevent undue wear and tear. Additionally, you should run the automatic cleaning cycle on a periodic basis to ensure your printer heads are kept free of buildup.
Cleaning your printer regularly can have a positive impact on the device’s longevity and will keep it performing well. Since not all printers are built alike, always consult your owner’s manual for specific instructions.