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

Whether you are using a laser print or an inkjet printer, basic cleaning would help in the long run. 

Additionally, if your printer begins spitting distorted prints or even blurred text, you should try to clean it regularly. You can clean your printer often with a cleaning kit. 

To prepare a printer cleaning kit, you can add a rubbing alcohol solution, cotton swabs or cleaning tissue paper, an electronic vacuum cleaner or canned air, and a clean cloth.

Automatic Cleaning Process

Automatic printer cleaning is the best and first step you should utilize to clean your printer without extra effort. 

The process is the same for laser and inkjet printers for automatic cleaning. Here is how to utilize automatic printer clean to clean the print heads:

  1. First of all, you should always look at the manual or quick start guide that comes with your printer. If the manual guides you to clean the printer from your computer’s control panel, follow these steps. Each printer is different, so that the steps may vary depending upon the brand.
  2. Locate the control panel by searching for the Control Panel by clicking on the start button.
  3. When you are on the control panel, navigate to Hardware and Sound >> Device and Printer.
  4. On this page, your printer should appear, right-click on it and then click on Printer Properties.
  5. Find the option “Clean” and follow the on-screen instructions.

Some printers can be cleaned directly from their dedicated software. Here is how:

  • Open printer software.
  • Go to settings and find the Clean Printer option.
  • Follow on-screen instructions and finish cleaning.

How Does The Printer Clean Itself?

A printer can clean itself by removing the ink blockage from print heads and nozzles. 

The self-cleaning process doesn’t consume too much time to clean. Moreover, it depends on the printer brand you are using.

A printer can clean itself by using the self-cleaning mechanism. 

The self-cleaning mechanism cleans the clogged print heads with the help of flushing or flushed air. 

The self-cleaning mechanism flushes the air on the printer head to dislodge the ink inside the ink cartridge channel and removes it. Then the waste ink goes into the ink absorber pad, which collects it.

After that, when a professional clean your printer, it removes the waste ink inside the ink absorber. 

Moreover, some modern printers can throw the ink out of the ink absorber themself.

How Long Does It Take For A Printer To Clean Itself?

When it comes to self-cleaning, then the time depends upon the printer you are using. 

Also, if the printer has hard ink blockage, it may take more time to clean it. 

But to be precise, the printer self-cleaning process hardly takes about 2-3 minutes for self-cleaning.

Manual Cleaning Of Inkjet Printer

Manually cleaning a printer that is out of warranty and not printing Black and White or Color paper is a little bit tricky, but you can manually clean it at home. 

However, please confirm if the printer is out of warranty. Else we would advise you to take the printer to the service centre otherwise the printer warranty will be void.

  1. To clean the printhead, gather a disposable container, a clean lint-free cloth, filtered or distilled hot water, disposable gloves, and paper towels.
  2. Prepare the container to soak the printhead stack paper towels deep in the bottom of the disposable container.
  3. Pour the hot water into the container until it’s five centimetres or two inches deep and the paper towels are fully submerged.
  4. Remove all ink cartridges from the printhead.
  5. Turn the printer on and open the cartridge access door, wearing disposable gloves.
  6. Remove all cartridges.
  7. Make sure you keep the ink cartridges upside down on the towel.
  8. Also, leave the ink cartridge out for no more than 30 minutes.
  9. Now, remove the printhead and then lift the printhead directly up and out of the printer.
  10. Dampen the clean, lint-free cloth with the hot water without pressing into the nozzle area or forcing water into the printhead.
  11. Wipe away any excess ink.
  12. Soak the printhead in the prepared container and place it in the disposable container, so the nozzles rest on the paper towels.
  13. Soak the printhead for 10 minutes, remove it, and then set it on a paper towel with the nozzles facing up to dry for 15 minutes.
  14. Reinstall the printhead and cartridges in the carriage.
  15. Resume regular printing after a test print.

Cartridge Cleaning

cartridge cleaning
  1. Remove the clogged cartridge from the printer.
  2. Now, disconnect the power cord and USB from the printer.
  3. Use a cotton swab or cloth along with an alcohol cleaning solution.
  4. Find the print head on the bottom of the cartridge.
  5. Slowly and gently wipe off the dried and crusty ink.

Roller Cleaning

printer roller

If you see frequent paper jams or misfeeds, the culprit could be your paper feed rollers. 

These rubber rollers help to grip and to feed the paper, but if they become dirty or dusty, you may need to clean them to get your printer working again.

  • Gather a lint-free cloth and some water; filtered or distilled water works best. Make sure you do not use alcohol or other solvents as they could cause the rollers to dry out.
  • The process is a bit different for inkjet and laser printers.

Starting with an inkjet printer:

  1. Start by locating the feed rollers. Find them by removing the paper tray.
  2. Moisten the cloth with some water but make sure it is only damp, not wet.
  3. Gently clean the roller with the cloth.
  4. You can clean the entire surface.
  5. Replace the paper trays.
  6. Test the printer.

Starting with a laser printer:

  1. If the rollers aren’t near the paper tray, they may be located inside the access panel.
  2. Open the access panel and also remove the toner cartridge.
  3. Find the roller at the bottom of the opening, depending on the design of the roller.
  4. Remove it.
  5. Dip the cloth in water to make it damp.
  6. Now, wipe the surface of the roller with a damp cloth.
  7. Once the roller is dry, place it back into the machine and snap it firmly into place.
  8. Test the printer, and it should work fine.

Cartridge House Cleaning

Printer cartridge house

The cartridge house of a printer holds the ink cartridge in its place. The ink cartridges are susceptible to dust and dirt. 

You can use any cleaning cloth or cleaning paper to clean the cartridge housing. 

  • Take a cleaning cloth and dip it into a cleaning solution like cleaning alcohol or a windows cleaning solution. 
  • Gently wipe off any dust, debris, ink, or dirt from the cartridge housing. 
  • It may be difficult to reach in some areas, so we would advise you to use an earbud that we generally use to clean our ears. 
  • The housing should be cleaned properly, and only after that place, the ink cartridge be back inside the housing.
  • Close the panel or lid.
  • Give it a test print.

Ribbon Cleaning

The ribbon is fragile, so while cleaning it, make sure you don’t get too hard. The ribbon is a spool of alternating coloured dyes which are housed in the cartridge. 

So this cleaning can be done right after you clean the printer housing.

  • Take a cotton swab or a cleaning cloth.
  • Use a cleaning solution to dip the cotton swab into it.
  • Gently wipe off any dust, ink, debris, or first from the ribbon.
  • Make sure you gently clean the ribbon as it is costly and fragile.
  • After cleaning is done, place the ink cartridges back inside and close the panel.
  • Try to print a test paper, and it should work fine.

Stabilizer Oiling

Stabilizer oiling is a complicated part of infrequent printer cleaning. The stabilizer cleaning lets the print be crispier and finer. 

A stabilizer in the printer lets the ink bar travel back and forth on the paper sheet. 

If you want to make sure your print runs smoothly, you can add this step into your routine printer cleaning.

You should regularly oil the stabilizer to make the printing operation as smooth as possible. 

You can drop a few drops of oil onto the stabilizer bar and ensure the oil is evenly spread on the bar so that it can work freely.

Manual Cleaning Of A Laser Printer

Cleaning your laser printer ensures it works without any clogged print head or ink blockage. 

You would require an activated toner cloth which is readily available in the local store, alcohol cleaning solution, Isopropyl or Aerosol Spray duster both will work fine.

A dust mask, as if you inhale the toner powder, can be irritating. Also, you would need a glove and a toner vacuum which is optional to have.

  1. Turn off the printer.
  2. Unplug the electrical cable.
  3. If you’ve recently used the machine, let the printer cool down.
  4. Remove the toner cartridge and the drum unit. The drum is often inside the toner cartridge, but sometimes it’s a separate unit.
  5. Keep the drum in a dark place as the light may damage the drum. If present, remove the transfer belt and the waste toner unit. Make sure you don’t touch the drum and the transfer.
  6. Belt surface with your bare hands.
  7. To clean your printer, you need alcohol and a clean cloth. Moreover, a toner vacuum would be perfect. Ensure you don’t use compressed air or canned air. And a dust mask is optional.
  8. Moisten a clean cloth with water, and it must be wet, not damp.
  9. Remove the spilt toner and the dust from the internal surfaces.
  10. Clean the paper pick up rollers with a soft cloth and alcohol.
  11. Clean the transfer roller with a dry cloth.
  12. Clean the glass of the scanner unit with a cotton cloth.
  13. Remove the paper tray and wipe any dust and debris.
  14. Reassemble the printer and give it a test run.

How To Maintain A Printer?

Here are the tips you can follow to maintain a printer in excellent working condition:

  1. Try to use the printer frequently.
  2. Make a routine to clean your printer regularly.
  3. While changing the ink cartridge, make sure they are not leaking.
  4. Keep the printer away from dust.
  5. Use the proper and latest software and drivers.
  6. When not in use, store the ink cartridge in an airtight container and store the printer in the original packing, if available. If not available, then use a trash box.


So, this is how you can clean and maintain a printer for a longer life span. But remember if your printer is under the warranty period then it is better to take him to the manufacturer service provider.

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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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