How to Clean a Printer

by: Ray Geide

Does your printer have frequent paper jams? Does it put ink where ink shouldn't be? Is the outside of your printer dirty or covered with smudges? If so, it is time to clean your printer.

First, there are some general rules that apply to cleaning just about any electrical device. It is best to turn off the printer before cleaning it. Do not spray water or cleaner on or in the printer. Instead wet the rag with it and clean the printer with the rag.

Different types of printers require different cleaning methods. So if you can get your hands on cleaning instructions for your make and model of printer, do so and follow them. Unfortunately, many manufacturers only make that kind of information available to their licensed technicians. In that case, you are stuck with these instructions, so read on.

Open up your printer and take a look.

If you have an ink jet printer and there is an ink mess inside, clean it up with wet paper towels.

If you have a printer that uses toner either vacuum or blow it out. Some toner, especially color toner, can be harmful to you, so only use a vacuum with a micro-toner filter or blow and run. Figure out where the drum is (it is shiny and larger in diameter than the rollers) and do not touch or scratch it. If you do, the scratches will turn up as marks on every paper that you print and will require that you replace the drum (not a cheap option) to fix it.

Examine the path that the paper takes through the printer. Clean all of the rollers (but on a toner printer, not the drum or rollers near the drum and watch out for the rollers after the drum because they may be hot). It may take some disassembly and/or contorting of your arm to get to some of the rollers. Access is not always easy. The most important rollers to clean are the ones which pick up the paper from the paper bin and transfer it into the printer. If these rollers are dirty or bad, they will cause consistent paper jams.

The rollers are made of either hard plastic or rubber. All of the rollers can be cleaned with water or rubbing alcohol. If the rubber rollers have deposits that you can't get off, you can use harsher cleaners but be careful because those cleaners can damage the plastic rollers and parts.

To clean a roller, wipe across the roller with a wet rag, rotate the roller, and wipe again. Do this until you have worked your way all the way around the roller. Look at the rag. If it has been blackened by the roller, move to a clean part of the rag and clean the roller again.

Once everything is clean on the inside, close it up and clean the outside. Wipe off the case and each of the buttons or knobs. If there are staples or paper clips sitting on it or wedged in the cracks, remove them and throw them away.

Other areas of the printer can be cleaned but to do so, you will have to either get training and special tools or leave it to a trained professional.