How to Really Clean an Inkjet Printer in 5 Simple Steps

Step 1

Remove Cartridges and Power Down

If you have them, go ahead and put on your latex or close fitting gloves. Ink generally gets everywhere and can be hard to clean off your hands. It’s important to not work on a printer that’s plugged in. However, sometimes certain inkjet printers will not let you change the ink unless the printer is plugged in. So, if this is the case, go ahead and life the cover of your inkjet so that the cartridges can be removed. Once that’s done, unplug the printer.

NOTE: Be sure not to touch the metal part of a inkjet cartridge, because the natural oils on your hand could inhibit the communication of your cartridge and your printer.

Step 2

Clean Ink Cartridges

To clean the inkjet cartridges, check to see if your cartridge’s have both ink and a print head together.

Together (most common):

Take a paper towel and fold it in fourths. Then add either alcohol (preferred) or Windex to one side of the paper towel. Now, wipe the bottom of the cartridge on the paper towel to clean off the print head in a flower like fashion. It is normal that ink comes out of the cartridge even after you think it’s all clean (that’s what it’s supposed to do).

Separate (less common):

Do not clean the ink cartridges themselves. Since they don’t have a print head and generally don’t control the amount of ink that flows out the bottom, you can get pretty messy if you tried to clean the ink itself. Take the print head and separate it from the ink cartridges, then follow the above directions to clean the head

Step 3

Clean Ribbon and Ink Reservoir

Now take another paper towel and fold it again in fourths. This time spray a thin layer of Windex on the paper towel and clean the ribbon if it has any major ink blotches on it (see picture to better understand this step).

Whenever a printer finishes its document, your ink “rests” or docks usually on the right or left of the printer. Over time, this area can harness a ton of ink mixed with paper dust. This makes a gooey substance that’s can cause big image problems on the paper since every time you print, you run the chance of hitting or docking on this mountain of gooey ink. To clean, we’re not going to use a cleaner, because if you can see a buildup of ink, generally, it’s much too hard to get to and can be very messy. In the picture, I’ve highlighted where this printer’s “reserve” is starting to build up.

Take a long hook or pen/pencil and tear down that mountain of mess. Some printers don’t have this problem, but most do after a long period of printing. Many customers will complain that they just replaced an ink cartridge and still have streaking. When I looked at my printer, there was a small patch of goo.

Step 4

Oil the Stabilizer Bar

After a while of printing, you may notice that the inside of your printer has a thin film of ink inside everywhere. Although it doesn’t really matter when it’s on the plastic, this can affect the oil on the stabilizing bar, making it harder and harder for the print heads to move. Sometimes it gets so bad that you can hear a “crunch” or “grind” and the end of a printing job. It may appear that the printer isn’t aligning right or can’t dock, but sometimes the lack of oil is the cause.

To oil this bar, simply put small dabs on different parts of the bar and drag the print mount/head across the bar manually to get a good coating.

Step 5

General Outside Cleanup and Paper Pickup Assembly

Once all the previous steps have been completed, you may want to clean the paper pickup assembly if you suspect it has ink on the rollers which causes paper to jam or not feed properly. My printer has a rear access door which is convenient, but other inkjet printers may have hard to reach rollers. I would suggest doing your best in getting at these rollers with a cotton swab and some glass cleaner or alcohol.

To clean the outside, take a paper towel and fold in fourths. Spray a thin film of Windex on it and wipe the outside of the printer to your liking.