Easy Peasy Printer Maintenance Tips

So, you managed to decide on a printer and it has arrived. It sits proudly, gleaming on your desk. A month passes. You look at it again and can’t believe it’s your new printer! How did it get so dirty? And why are there already marks on the printouts?

brushing teethLike most things we own, printers need taking care of. Our teeth need brushing and flossing, our cars need washing and gas. Printers, too, have their own set of requirements if you want them to stay looking and, more importantly, functioning the way they should.

Make sure to power down your printer before carrying out the tips.

General Printer Maintenance Tips

1. Clean the outside of your printer regularly in order to prevent dust or dirt build-up. Dampen a clean cloth with water or rubbing alcohol, and wipe the printer exterior gently. Beware that stronger cleaning liquids may cause damage.

2. Keep your printer covered when it is not in use. Apart from keeping the printer exterior clean, the cover will prevent dust, spills and other debris entering the inside of the printer, which are difficult to remove. Printer covers are available in most computer or office supply stores.

3. The inside of your printer should also be cleaned using a small portable vacuum, such as a keyboard vacuum.  Do not use compressed air which can force the debris further into the printer. Beware not to use the vacuum on the cartridge as this can cause damage. Alternatively, use a DRY, soft, lint-free cloth to gently wipe the interior. Care must be taken not to touch the transfer roller (black spongy area beneath the cartridge) with one’s hands.

4. Always switch off your printer using the power button on the unit. Some printers carry out important functions before they shut down such as a self clean, which will be interrupted if the power is turned off at the wall socket.

5. Use the paper and ink/toner suggested by the manufacturer to get the best printing results, as well as to prevent paper jams and other related problems. Also, make sure to store the paper correctly (see our post Preventing Paper Jams – Top Tips for Paper Storage and Handling).

Additional Inkjet Printer Maintenance Tips

1. Use your printer regularly, at least once a week, to prevent the printheads drying up. Apart from losing expensive ink, dry ink on the cartridge heads will cause poor print quality.

2. Clean your printheads regularly to ensure high quality prints. Remove the cartridges and wipe the heads gently using a cloth dampened with distilled or purified water and replace when dry.

3. Make sure to replace ink cartridges as soon as indicated. Continuing to use near empty cartridges can cause the printheads to clog and reduce the printhead life.

Additional Laser Printer Maintenance Tips

1. Run a clean page through your printer every so often. If you can’t work out how to print a blank page, enter any character and then print. The clean sheet should pick up any toner powder, lint or dust that is in the paper path, preventing specks and dots on your prints. If you continue seeing marks, repeat the printing or check your printer manual – it may specify a better medium to use, such as a transparency.

cloth2. The roller needs cleaning in order to prevent printer misfeeds. First, remove the toner cartridge and place in a dark place to avoid it drying out. Gently wipe the roller with rubbing alcohol, and then with a soft cloth to remove the dirt. Make sure the roller is dry with no remains of the alcohol before reinstalling.

3. Rock the toner gently from side to side before replacing it. This prolongs the toner life, as well as ensuring that the toner is equally distributed for even printouts.

Follow these pointers and you’ll keep your printer as good as new! Even if you’ve had your printer a while, it’s not too late to start caring for it – you never know how many years you can add to its life.