Hints & Tips

7 Steps to Clean an Inkjet Printer

Keep your inkjet printer clean! Nothing is as frustrating as when you must print an important document or photograph and you see faded regions, black lines, or faded text. Most of the time, these issues can easily be fixed by cleaning your printer. Performing a printer cleaning is one of the best ways to have consistently high-quality documents and photos.

Sometimes our customers contact us with inkjet printer problems: “my printer won’t print”, “my printer won’t print one or another colour”, or “my print is faded and has lines through it” and more issue. More often than not, there is one simple cause: the print heads are dirty, or clogged up. An inkjet printer should be used at least once a week and never left for long periods of time without use, particularly in a warm room.

If you have been affected by any of the above the solution is often very easy, clean your printer!

Cleaning your inkjet printer not only makes it look nice, it will improve its performance. Make cleaning nozzles, print heads and the exterior of your printer a regular part of your routine maintenance. Follow each one of these steps as you clean your inkjet printer.

  1. Turn off your printer. Make sure all parts have stopped moving and the power indicator light is off.
  2. Wipe down the outside of your printer. Using a dry, lint-free cloth, wipe down all the outer surfaces of your printer. Remove trays to reach all areas.
  3. Clean the inside. Open the panel used to access the ink cartridges. Use a dry cloth or air-duster to remove dust, dirt, and scraps of paper. Wipe up spots of ink as well. Be careful and avoid making physical contact with circuits and other electronics.
  4. Run your printer's head cleaning or nozzle test. This will vary by manufacturer but can generally be accessed through the printer's properties page.

    For Windows computers, go to “Settings | Control Panel | Printers and Faxes” and select your printer’s icon. Select “Properties” and find a tab that relates to maintenance or troubleshooting. You'll find an option for head, cartridge or nozzle cleaning.

    For Apple computers, open any program that prints and select "File | Page Setup." Select "Utilities" and find the nozzle cleaning option under printer tests.
  5. If the printer's test doesn't work, clean cartridge slots manually. This is a drastic step. You should only do this if the printer's self-cleaning fails and the print quality does not improve.
  6. Remove the ink cartridges. Refer to your manual for specific instructions.
  7. Clean the opening. This will be on the bottom, where the ink comes out and into the printer. Use a Q-Tip with a little bit of water or isopropyl alcohol. Dab the water or alcohol onto the print heads a few times. This is the carriage that carries the ink cartridges and where the ink flows into the printer.  When you have done this, put the cartridges back in and run the clean process again once or twice.  You should see an improvement now. You must keep your print heads clean, the nozzles are smaller than a human hair, so it does not take much for them to become blocked from time to time. If you leave your printer in a warm room unused for more than a few days, it is wise to run a clean and nozzle check when you start to use it again.