How to clean inkjet printers

Written by c. giles Google
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How to clean inkjet printers
Inkjet printers can get messy. (printer cartridge image by hugy from

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.

Skill level:

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Things you 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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  1. 1

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

    How to clean inkjet printers
    Gloves will protect your hands from ink stains. (latex gloves image by Wendy Lea Morgan from
  2. 2

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

    How to clean inkjet printers
    Make sure the printer is unplugged. (Printer cable image by rasita from
  3. 3

    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.

    How to clean inkjet printers
    Paper towel is ideal for this task. (sauber image by victoria p. from
  4. 4

    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.

    How to clean inkjet printers
    A spray of glass cleaner will clean the ribbon. (Spray image by Dominator from
  5. 5

    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

    How to clean inkjet printers
    A sharp pencil will help clear any build up of ink and dust. (pencil image by AGphotographer from
  6. 6

    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.

  7. 7

    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.

    How to clean inkjet printers
    A cotton bud helps to reach inside the printer. (cotton buds image by Alison Bowden from
  8. 8

    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.

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