A printer is an essential part of our lives in the 21st-Century. Whether we’re making copies of family photographs, printing instructions for our next road trip, or need a copy of the syllabus for our latest course, without a printer, we’d be out of luck.

As you can imagine, printers get notoriously gunky, and tend to burn out earlier than they should. For the longevity and well-being of your printer, it’s important to add maintenance to your regular home cleaning routine. Here’s how to do just that:


How to Clean a Printer: Copy That


Items You Will Need to Clean a Printer

  • Q-Tips
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Windex
  • Paper Towels
  • Microfiber Cloth
  • Canned Air


Start with the Outside

Home printers are electronic and a magnet for dust. The first step is to unplug it.  The next step in cleaning printers is to take your microfiber cloth and dust off the outside of the them. If needed, use a damp cloth on any spots that have more than just dust on them. You don’t want to get printers physically “wet”.


Removing Main Components

If one of your home cleaning goals is to keep your printer looking shiny and new, you’re going to have to set a chunk of time aside.

First, start by removing any external parts that will give you access to the ribbon, ink cartridges, and brains of your printer.

Once that’s out of the way, it’s time to slowly but surely use your microfiber cloth or paper towels to wipe any visible dust residue or build up that you see. The ribbon, and areas around the ink cartridges are notorious for this.


Time to Clean the Ribbon

A printer ribbon is responsible for taking an image from your computer and translating it into paper form. Over time, printer ribbons get ink, dusk, pollen, and all other kinds of matter on them, which can lead to streaking or unclear printing.


How to Clean a Printer


To clean the ribbon, spray Windex lightly on a paper towel and then slowly slide the wet paper towel back and forth along the printer ribbon. Don’t apply too much pressure, as this component is especially delicate and can break.


Remove Ink from Cartridges and Cartridge Heads

With the ribbon out of the way, it’s time to move onto the ink cartridges. Remove each of your ink cartridges, and then dip a Q-Tip in rubbing alcohol. Now, rub the Q-Tip in the areas where the cartridges are held. These areas, and the cartridge heads and backs can get particularly sticky. Take some extra time and really hone in on your home cleaning guru — doing so will ensure future prints are crisp and clear.


Wheels and Other Plastic Components

Now that the ink build-up is out of the way, and your ribbon is clean and prepared for action, it’s time to clean the print wheels, and nooks and cranny’s.

For this, grab a container of canned air and spray into all of the cracks and crevices you haven’t already accessed. Printers are full of plastic craters, so dedicate a little extra time to your home cleaning and make sure you cover everything, including little pieces of paper that may have gotten stuck in the past.


Invest in a Dust Cover

Last, but not least, it’s time to invest in a proper dust cover. Home printers collect animal hair and dust like nobody’s business, and while it might require a few extra steps every time you need to remove it or put it back on, the time you’ll save not having to clean is undoubtedly worth it.

Happy printing!