This Is How To Clean A Printer Ink And Toner Cartridge Step By Step Guide

Inkjet printers have a print head that jets out ink by the thousands of drops per second. 

These microscopic drops of ink are sprayed to impact a piece of paper and create images. Dust, debris, and dried ink block the tiny holes on the printhead.

How To know your cartridge needs cleaning

Your prints come out streaky, with white lines where the color should be. Your inkjet is only partially jetting. 

After a while, you’ll get a blank white page, even though there’s enough ink in the cartridge.

So, it is important to clean printer cartridges because compacted print debris can lower print quality and damage the printer.

Unfortunately, if you don’t clean your inkjet printer often through regular maintenance, it is prone to clogging with dried ink. 

You might not notice at first, but it will soon become obvious when the printing starts to look faded with white lines on it.

In the same manner, a laser printer can be clogged. But they have a different mechanism that protects the printer from frequent blockages and errors. 

However, if you don’t clean the laser cartridge for longer periods, it will also get clogged.

How To Clean Ink Cartridge

The first step to cleaning any inkjet printer is to make sure you have the right tools. The best way to clean a printer cartridge is by using a cleaning solution that can dissolve the ink and clean your entire printer.

There are several ways to go at it: soaking the cartridge in a dedicated cleaning solution, buying specialist products, or making your own ones.


How To Clean A Printer Ink And Toner Cartridge
  • Window cleaner or isopropyl alcohol
  • Paper towels
  • Cotton swabs
  • Protection gloves


  1. Put on the gloves.
  2. Unplug the power cord from the power source and remove the USB cord from the computer.
  3. Some of the older printers, such as Epson and HP, use separate ink cartridges for the colors. Still, the newer models such as Canon and Brother use just one cartridge that can be replaced without removing any other cartridges.
  4. To take out the cartridge, you can access the panel or the flap located at different locations for your model.
  5. Remove all the cartridges carefully. To detach them, push down each cartridge from the holder.
  6. Scrub the ink cartridges with a paper towel. Make sure to remove all the residue, ink, and dust particles.
  7. After wiping it with a dry paper towel, pour the paper into the cleaning solution and gently rub the cartridge to remove all the dry ink build-up.
  8. If there is some ink left on the cartridge. Take out the cotton swabs and dip them into lukewarm water.
  9. Gently wipe off dry ink from the cartridge. Make sure you use distilled water for this process.
  10. When the cartridge is properly cleaned and dried up, you can install it back into the printer. Ensure that the cartridge is properly dried, else it can damage your printer.
  11. To reinstall the cartridge, open the access panel and place it inside the printer.
  12. Close the flap and screw it up.
  13. Put the power and USB cord into the source and check the printout quality by taking test printouts.

If your printer is affected with hardcore dried ink, then it is recommended that you use ammonia to remove it off. 

You have to soak the printhead into the ammonia and water for hours if it is really hard to remove the ink off.

But soaking the printheads in ammonia and water is not an option for some people. Ammonia is highly corrosive and can burn your skin and eyes and irritate your lungs and sinuses if you breathe it in. 

Furthermore, there’s a risk of inhaling the ammonia vapors if you’re working indoors. So, call the manufacturer, or replace the cartridge in that case.

How To Clean Laser Printer Toner Cartridge

Cleaning your laser printer toner cartridge could prolong its lifespan, prevent jams and improve your print quality. Here is how you can clean your laser printer toner cartridge

There are several key components, besides the toner cartridge, that need to be cleaned to ensure optimal performance: the paper pick-up roller, fuser assembly (roller and heat element), and laser drum.


  • Face mask (Mandatory)
  • Latex or protection gloves
  • Activated Toner cloth
  • Window cleaner / Isopropyl Alcohol / Aerosol Spray Duster
  • Toner vacuum
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Paintbrush (Don’t use a toothbrush, as the bristles are too hard and short)


  1. Turn off the Laser Printer before one hour to clean.
  2. Make sure you put on your mask and gloves before cleaning.
  3. Next, remove the power cord, and the USB cable is connected.
  4. Also, remove the other components like toner bottle, cartridge, drum unit to access the cartridge. Some models have different designs, and the cartridge unit can be easily accessed after opening the access panel of the printer. If you have never opened a printer, make sure to take the help of the user manual.
  5. Ensure you do not touch the drum unit. Place it in a dark area where no light is present. Direct sunlight can damage the drum unit.
  6. Take out the toner cloth and use it to wipe out the toner cartridge. Make sure to remove the toner present on the nozzle.
  7. Next, use the Toner vacuum and place it in the printer chassis to remove the spilled toner inside the printer. Keep the vacuum at the gap, don’t touch any of the components inside the printer.
  8. Use the paintbrush to remove toner left inside after vacuum
  9. Dip a cotton swan in the cleaning solution and clean the corona wires. Keep replacing the cotton swab until it’s fully clean. Corona wires are flimsy, so clean them gently.
  10. Dip another cotton swab in the cleaning solution and clean the paper feed roller
  11. Place all the components back inside the printer.
  12. Turn the printer on and check if it is working or not.

Related Questions

Can You Use Vacuum Toner?

Yes, you can vacuum up scraps of paper and vacuum up any remaining toner on the floor or other surfaces. 

This is important because if you don’t, the toner will get into the air and cause your printer to jam.

A toner vacuum cleaner is used to remove any residual toner from the floor and other surfaces you don’t want to reach with your hands. 

It’s a portable vacuum designed just for this purpose: collecting and disposing of toner.

Is Breathing In Toner Bad For You?

Yes, printer toner becomes airborne when disturbed either by human touch or by vibration, such as when the printer is running. 

The toner particles are too small to see without magnification, but they do not dissolve in water and are inert, making them chemically unchanged.

It is difficult to determine if printer toner poses a health risk until studies have been performed using test subjects exposed to varying amounts of printer toner over extended periods at various levels.

Is Printer Ink Toxic On Skin?

No, printer ink is not toxic to the touch; however, it is advised not to be inhaled. Ink can seep through your pores and enter your bloodstream, where it will take a long time for the body to filter and expel.

What If The Ink Gets Into Someone’s Eye?

If the ink gets into someone’s eye, you need to rinse the eye with cool water. You can also use eye-cleaning drops. 

If the ink goes into your eyes, the chances are that the white part of your eye may be stained for some time. However, ink in your eye will not cause permanent or long-term complications.

Unlike most tattoo pigments, white ink can be traumatic to the eye. Remember that the white part of the eye may be stained temporarily unless you are exceptionally allergic to it.

Related Articles

This Is How You Can Know That Your Printer Is A Clogged Head Or Nozzle

What Causes Printhead Failure? Easy Tips To Avoid Them

This Is How To Clean Print Head For Better Performance (Learn These 10 Points)

How To Clean And Lubricate Printer Rollers? (Our Comprehensive Guide)

How To Clean And Maintain A Printer (Inkjet And Laser)

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Tanmoy Misra found his love for tech early in life when he got his first Nintendo (NES) console. He spent many hours blowing into cartridges to no avail until inspiration struck and he started taking apart and rebuilding anything that didn’t work. After dropping console gaming at the end of high school, Tanmoy entered the world of PC online gaming. His love of gaming and problem-solving soon led him to build his computers. As per expertise, he is an ISF-certified video calibrator and covering AV for a number of publications since 2018.

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