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How to clean inkjet printers

Updated April 17, 2017

Often problems with inkjet printers are simply due to a build up of ink inside the machine, or ink spilling from a cartridge. Cleaning the printer on a regular basis, particularly if you print in large quantities, can avoid these problems and prolong the life of the machine. If you have an instruction manual for your inkjet printer, consult this for cleaning tips in addition to following these simple instructions.

Put on your latex gloves if you have them to keep your hands clean.

Remove the ink cartridges from your printer, then unplug the printer. Do not work on a printer that is plugged in.

Check whether your ink cartridges have both ink and a print head together. If they are together, take a sheet of paper towel and fold it so that it is quartered in size. Add either alcohol or glass cleaner to one side of it and wipe the bottom of the ink cartridge on this side. If the ink and print head are separate, you do not need to clean the cartridges; this will get too messy. Separate the print head from the cartridge and clean the head on its own using the paper towel and glass cleaner.

Take another sheet of paper towel and fold it again until it is quartered. Spray a thin layer of glass cleaner onto it and use this to clean the ribbon inside the printer, paying close attention to any large ink blotches.

Look inside the printer for any accumulations of a gooey substance, which is a mixture of ink and dust. This is created when the printer finishes a print job and the ink stops on the side of the printer. This builds up over time and can causing problems when printing. Use the hook or pen/pencil and work away at the build up

Dab small amounts of oil on the stabilising bar and pull the print mound or head across the bar to give it a thorough coating. This will get rid of any film of ink that has built up over time.

Clean the paper pickup assembly if you suspect ink on the rollers is causing the paper to jam or not feed properly. This area may be hard to reach; use a cotton bud dipped in alcohol or glass cleaner.

Fold a sheet of paper towel until it is quartered and spray it with glass cleaner. Use this to wipe clean the outside of the printer.

Things You'll Need

  • 3-4 sheets of paper towel
  • Alcohol or glass cleaner
  • Small hook or pen/pencil
  • Copier/printer or sewing machine oil
  • 2-3 cotton buds
  • Latex gloves (optional)
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About the Author

C. Giles is a writer with an MA (Hons) in English literature and a post-graduate diploma in law. Her work has been published in several publications, both online and offline, including "The Herald," "The Big Issue" and "Daily Record."