Printers are as notorious as computers when it comes to frustrating (and often times expensive) health issues. But, you can avoid hassle and a costly repair bills by making sure you’re diligent about maintaining your printer. Armed with the knowledge of how to effectively clean your printer, you’ll avoid poor print outs, paper jams and boost the longevity of your device.
Before we begin, a brief word of caution. Anytime you open your printer for maintenance, make sure the power is off and your hands are clear of hot fusers and moving parts within the printer. This will prevent unnecessary damage to the printer and, possibly, yourself.
Clean the Printheads
Clogged printheads will result in poor print outs, and often occur after the cartridge has been left unused in the printer for long periods of time. Most printers have a self-cleaning function. This is usually found in your printer’s “properties” setting, or may be accessible from the device itself. Refer to your owner’s manual for how to access this feature for your particular printer. Also, keep in mind: a printhead cleaning function performed by your printer will consume ink, so use as sparingly as possible.
If your printer has an attached printhead, like HP ink cartridges, you can also try to clean it manually. You can do this by damping a paper towel in warm water, folding it into quarters and blotting the cartridge with the printhead facing down onto the paper towel. Then, take a dry paper towel and hold the cartridge down against this for two to three minutes to wick the ink out. Be careful not to wipe the printhead as this may cause damage.
Remove Dust and Debris
Dust build-up, toner residue and debris inside your printer can lead to paper jams as well as streaks of ink across the page. You can remove unwanted debris with a small vacuum. This is preferred over canned air dusters, as it will effectively remove the debris rather than move it around in the printer.
Resolve Mechanical Errors Carefully
Solving your issue the right way is critical to the long-term health of your printer. For example, something as seemingly insignificant as an incorrectly resolved paper jam can lead to further printing issues in the future. Instead of angrily yanking the paper free, refer to the owner’s manual to ensure you are following the best practice for your printer. Generally, the best practice for clearing a paper jam to use both hands to slowly pull the jammed paper out to avoid leaving behind torn bits of paper, which can damage the insides of your printer. You can also prevent jams by making sure the paper you load into the printer is not torn, dog-eared, overfilled and meets the size requirements for your tray.
Consider Investing in a Maintenance Kit
Rather than take the financial leap of buying a new printer once it begins to show signs of wear, consider purchasing a maintenance kit to extend the life of your device. Check your printer manufacturer to see if they have kits available. Typically, a maintenance kit will consist of a range of products, rom cleaning supplies to changeable parts such as rollers.
No printer is perfect, but a little bit of easy maintenance can go a long way to greatly reduce common printing frustrations. If your printer is beyond the point of maintenance, however, check out our article on the top five all-in-one inkjet printers and stay up to date with LD Products for special discounts and promotional offers.