How To Clean An Old Printer

A clean printer is a happy printer. As long as it’s kept in good condition, even an old printer can keep churning out those pages year after year. One of the most common reasons for a printer to start misbehaving is because of years of unnoticed dirt and dust gathering on and inside them. If you have a laser printer, the toner cartridge can also leak, over time – particularly if you are not using your printer that often – and this creates a blocking residue that’s also potentially harmful to your health.

Which all just goes to say that finding out how to clean your old printer properly is well worth doing. And by ‘clean’, we don’t just mean occasionally swipe with a duster. For a proper clean, you are going to need to open that device up and really get stuck in. Of course (it should go without saying), make sure you unplug your old printer before you start working on it. For some printers, you need to have the device turned on to be able to remove the cartridges, but don’t forget to turn it off and unplug it after you’ve got the cartridge out.

Here’s what you’ll need to get started. The good news is, you’ll be able to clean your printer mostly using products and tools you will probably have lying around the house.

  1. First, you need to make a simple cleaning solution. Using a small spray bottle, combine a general purpose cleaner – the same sort of thing you use to clean surfaces in the kitchen – with some isopropyl alcohol. This should be at 70% by volume and you’ll be able to get it online or in your nearest hardware shop. Fill the bottle with one part cleaner to two parts alcohol and shake to mix. As well as this solution, you’ll want to have some paper towels, a clean paintbrush (about 1.5 inches across is perfect), and some cotton tipped swabs (otherwise known as ear buds). Finally, a vacuum cleaner or some canned air will come in handy, and you might want to wear a protective dust mask – depending on what state your old printer is in.
  2. Now onto the actual clean. Open up your printer and carefully remove the ink or toner cartridge/s. Once out, you might want to give this a quick clean if it looks grimy. If it’s a toner cartridge, take care if there’s lots of residue built up because this can be harmful if you inhale much of it. This is where a bit of vacuuming can come in helpful. Then, with the cartridge removed, use your paintbrush to loosen any dust and dirt in the printer itself. In particular, focus on any vents you can find, as this is where a lot of the debris will accumulate. Now do some more vacuuming (or use the canned air if you’re not using a vacuum) and wipe away what’s left using a damp paper towel and/or cotton swab.
  3. If you’re cleaning an inkjet printer, it’s worth giving the printer ribbon a quick clean as well. Just fold a paper towel in four, spray a bit of cleaner on and wipe it along the ribbon, focusing on any ink blotches you can see.
  4. Once you’re happy the inside of the machine is as clean as you can get it, insert a protective barrier of some kind where the cartridge was. This will stop any cleaning product from damaging the electrics. An old t shirt or tea towel will do the job, as will a plastic bag or sheet. Now close the machine and use your bottle of cleaning agent to spray the outside. Leave it for a minute to loosen any old dirt and then start cleaning. You’ll want to use the paper towels for the main part of the machine, and the cotton buds for all the nooks and crannies. If it doesn’t look clean after one pass, just repeat the process. Spray and clean.
  5. Now open the printer up again and do the same for the inside. Be careful about how much spray you use and watch out for any sensitive components. Once you’ve done all of that, we recommend you have a go at cleaning the paper pickup assembly – particularly if you suspect it has any dirt on the rollers. A good indicator of this is if your printer is jamming or not feeding paper through correctly. Some printers have a rear access door, which will make this more convenient, but other printers may have hard to reach rollers. Your best chance at cleaning these is to use a cotton swab dampened with some of your trusty cleaning mix.


And voila! If you need ink and toner for your printer please visit


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Clickinks is a a printer consumable ebusiness. Providing affordable, reliable ink & toner for your home and office.

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