If you’re like most people, you have a love-hate relationship with your computer’s printer. You love your printer when it works perfectly and want to hurl it out the second story window when it malfunctions. But did you know that many printer problems could be avoided with periodic cleaning?
For instance: Ink jet printers have a stabilizer bar on which the print heads move back and forth. Over time, the bar becomes dry and the heads grind or stutter when trying to move, often triggering the error light. You think your printer has just died when all it needs are a few drops of lubricant. It’s parched, that’s all-like a footballer just off the pitch after a tough match. All he wants is a good pint of ale.
With that in mind, let’s look at a few steps you can take to keep you printer clean and functioning correctly. Most of the cleaning supplies you’ll need can be found around the house already, negating a trip to the store. Round up the following:
• Cotton Swabs – AKA Q-tips
• Paper Towels
• Glass Cleaner
• Isopropyl Alcohol
• Copier / Printer Oil – WD 40 works, but do NOT spray into printer. Spray onto cotton swab, then apply swab to mechanism being lubricated.
In addition, if you have them, you might want to wear latex gloves since the ink can be hard to remove from your skin. Once you’ve gathered your cleaning supplies, you’re ready to begin. A note deserves mentioning here: Each model of ink jet printer will have its own nuances, but most have the same key parts:
• Print Head – Many print heads are built into printer ink cartridge.
• Print Head Motor – Parks and controls printer head assembly.
• Stabilizer Bar – Printer head assembly travels back and forth along bar.
• Paper Feed Assembly – Grabs and feeds paper.
• Interface Ribbon – Communicates color and where to place ink colors.
• Printer Ink Cartridge – Holds printer ink and usually print head.
Manually Cleaning Your Ink Jet Printer
First, unplug your printer. If your printer requires that it be under power before you can remove the ink cartridge, remove cartridge and then unplug the printer. Be careful not to touch the head and metal part of the ink cartridge with your fingers. Skin oils can affect communication between cartridge and printer.
Next, take your ink cartridge and dab the head and metal portion on a folded paper towel saturated with isopropyl alcohol. Your goal is to clean the surface so you see metal. Ink will still come from the cartridge, however, so don’t waste your time trying to make it spotless.
Once the print head and cartridge are clean, set it aside and grab a cotton swab and the oil / WD 40. Apply a little lubricant to the swab and run it along the stabilizer bar. Be careful to remove any lint left by the swab.
After the bar comes the interface ribbon. Spray some glass cleaner on a folded paper towel and GENTLY clean the ribbon (usually coated in plastic). This ribbon is fragile! If you don’t see ink blotches on it, then it would be best to not touch it.
Now, if you look under the point where your printer head assembly docks, you might see drops of ink mixed with paper dust. If so, use an alcohol swab or pencil and scrape it away.
And finally, take a look at the paper feeder or roller, usually seen through a compartment door at the rear of the printer. If you see blotches of ink on the rollers, clean with glass cleaner and a paper towel. Alcohol will work as well.
For good measure, you might want to take a few paper towels and the glass cleaner and give the shell of your printer a good rubdown. Why not? You’re there anyway. Manually Cleaning Your Laser Printer Again, first thing is to unplug the printer. Once that’s done, remove any paper trays and wipe down the tray bay.
Next, get some paper towels and carefully remove the toner cartridge. Set it somewhere safe and out of the way. The last thing you want to be doing is soaking up toner or ink from your carpet because you knocked the toner off the desk.
Now clean the compartment that holds the toner cartridge. Again, be careful to remove ant lint. Dry paper towels will work well here. After that, clean the mirror if possible. Be careful! A soft-bristle brush works best. If not available, consider not cleaning the mirror. Once you’ve finished with the mirror, do a general cleaning of the entire inside compartment with a paper towel. If you must, use a little glass cleaner to attract and remove any paper dust and debris. Next come the rollers. Clean all of the rollers except the sponge roller. Replace the toner cartridge and the paper trays, give a quick wipe of the outside to make it shine, and you’re done. And that’s all there is to it. Happy printing!