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How to Clean an Inkjet Printer

How to Clean an Inkjet Printer

Extend the life of your inkjet printer and ink cartridges with these simple cleaning tips.

Printers are an essential part of every home and office, and just like any electronic device, require regular maintenance to work their best.  Without a routine cleaning, your machine can become clogged with ink and dust, leading to poor print results and a shorter lifespan.  In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide on how to clean an inkjet printer, and also cover how to clean printheads, and even paper rollers, so you can keep your printer in top shape year round.

Basic Steps for Cleaning Your Inkjet Printer

Step 1: Turn off the printer

First, turn off the printer and unplug it from the wall.  Then, open up the printer and remove the cartridges from the cartridge carrier.  Be careful not to touch the gold contact points on the cartridges when removing the cartridges from the machine, as this might cause recognition issues.  Set the cartridges aside on a clean, flat surface before proceeding to the next step.

Step 2: Clean the outside of the printer

Now it’s time to clean the printer exterior.  Use a soft, damp cloth to wipe down the printer and remove any dust or debris.  After you’ve wiped it down, be sure to let the printer dry.

Step 3: Clean the inside of the printer

The inside of the printer has many sensitive electronic components that can easily be damaged if not handled properly.  If you notice dust inside your printer, it’s okay to gently wipe it away with a dry-lint free cloth but be careful to avoid touching any of the electronic parts of the interior.

Step 4: Clean the paper rollers

Next, clean the printer’s rollers.  These are the small rubber or plastic rollers that feed paper through the printer.  You can usually find them by removing the paper tray at the bottom of the printer.  You may need to lift the printer up and look underneath where the paper feed is to access them.  Use a damp, lint-free cloth to wipe them down and rotate as you go so you can clean the entire roller.  When you are done, don’t forget to replace the paper tray.

Step 5: Reinstall your cartridges and print a test page

Now that you’ve cleaned and wiped down the interior and exterior of your printer, reinstall the cartridges, turn the printer back on, and print out a test page.  If you are still getting streaky or lines on your prints, move on to our printhead cleaning instructions.

How to Clean the Printhead

The printhead is an important part of a printer that transfers ink onto paper by firing tiny droplets of ink through nozzles. When one of these nozzles gets clogged, your prints may appear faded or streaky. To prevent this, regularly clean your printhead with the automatic cleaning function.  Most printers come equipped with a printhead cleaning option and it only takes a couple of taps on your printer display screen to get started.  Consult your printer manual for specific instructions for you machine.  The cleaning will take 1-2 minutes to cycle through.  Once it is complete, print out a test page to see if the print quality has improved.  If you are not happy with  the results, run the cleaning 2-4 more times.

If your printer uses cartridges with an integrated printhead,  like most HP and Canon ink cartridges, you can also try the “paper towel method” to clean the printhead.

If you still aren’t getting quality prints after a few cleanings, move on to our manual cleaning instructions.

We’ve provided further printhead instructions for HP, Epson, and Canon printers below:

Common Printer Cleaning FAQs

When should you clean your inkjet printer?

If a printer is not cleaned often, it can lead to clogging of the ink cartridges and printheads, resulting in streaky or uneven printouts. The frequency of cleaning depends on how often the printer is used and the type of ink cartridges used.  There are several signs that indicate a printer needs cleaning, such as faded or blurry prints, streaks or lines on the page, or ink smudges on the paper. If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to clean your printer.

What are the best materials to clean an inkjet printer?

  1. Lint-free cloths or microfiber towels: These are gentle on the sensitive components inside the printer and won’t leave any fibers or residue behind.
  2. Isopropyl alcohol: This is great for cleaning ink residue, dirt, and dust from printheads. Make sure to use a solution with at least 90% isopropyl alcohol, as lower concentrations may leave residue behind.
  3. Water: It’s safe to use distilled or filtered water to clean printer parts, but avoid tap water, which can contain impurities that may damage your printer.

Routine cleaning is important to keep your printer is running smoothly, but it’s equally important to print with high-quality ink cartridges.  LD-Brand printer cartridges from LD Products are a great way to save money without sacrificing print quality, delivering premium prints that rival the name brand at a fraction of the cost.   By following these tips and best practices, you can ensure your printer is in good working condition for years to come.  Visit to shop a range of affordable printer cartridges for nearly every printer model, or find more helpful cleaning content on our Printer and Cartridge Cleaning Tips page.

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Thank you for reading this post! This article is written by a team of ink experts at LD Products - a Long Beach, California-based company that specializes in compatible ink and toner.  With over 20 years of printing expertise, we’re committed to helping you save money on printer ink without sacrificing quality.  If you found this content helpful, we’d be grateful if you supported us by visiting for all of your ink and toner needs.  We appreciate your support!

*Savings based on price comparison between remanufactured/compatible cartridge prices on and OEM cartridge and printer prices from the listed retailers: Amazon and Staples. All products are reviewed independently. As an Amazon associate, LD Products earns from qualifying purchases through links on this page.  All prices effective as of April 11, 2023.  OEM names are registered trademarks of their respective owners and are not affiliated with, and do not endorse LD Products.


  • I use an HP Officejet 8040. Other than some heated arguments I have with it because I use non-HP ink, its been OK. I’ve had it for 4 years and run the clean heads 1/month because I print a lot and I use 2 cartridges a month. Lately, I’ve notice a buildup of wet ink under the heads – it looks black, but it could be a mix of everything. Wet ink is all over the place under where the heads move from side to side. Is there a way to flush all that ink out of the printer without damaging any electronic connections. I would try it, but I dont know where the elctronics board is, I dont see any connections or plug-ins. My print quality is still good-excellent and I dont get the typical streaking or discontinuities in the printed product. Or should I just leave it alone because if it aint broke, dont fix it. My closest HP service place is 30 miles away and I called and explained the situation and he didn’t seem to know if there was anything that he could do – and his shop fee was $80 per hour. Any suggestions,?

  • Hello there, it sounds like your printer is still functioning well despite the buildup of ink. However, if you want to clean it out, I’d recommend first turning off the printer and unplugging it to avoid any potential electrical damage. You can then use a damp cloth to gently wipe away the excess ink. Be careful to avoid touching any circuits or connections. In terms of identifying the electronics board, it’s typically located in the bottom part of the printer. However, given that your printer’s performance is unaffected and considering the high service costs, it might be best to leave it as it is unless the situation worsens. If you have further concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to the HP’s online support—they might have additional insights.

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