How to Clean a Printer

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Updated November 15, 2022

To help keep your top-rated laser or inkjet printer working optimally, you should regularly clean and maintain it. At first, you may think using soap and water is best, but that method might not be ideal for electronics. 

Instead, if you want to avoid any printer damage from using water to clean it, opt for a lint-free cloth to clean it instead. In addition, using alcohol and a clean cloth can help with any major poor printing issues. 


  • You should regularly clean your printer, every month or two, to ensure that it continues to operate at peak efficiency.
  • Gather up your cleaning supplies ahead of time and be aware of what cleaning materials are appropriate for your specific printer.
  • Many modern printers can also run automated maintenance tasks via the settings menu or via a third-party software suite.

Why Clean a Printer?

Printers can accumulate dirt and grime over time which can severely impact the internal components, leading to decreased efficiency and a shortened lifespan. Cleaning a printer can help keep it in good working order. Cleaning a laser printer that uses toner cartilage may be more complicated than cleaning an inkjet printer, and this is why you should learn this simple process.

How to Clean a Printer

The actual cleaning process will differ depending on your printer type, inkjet or laser, your individual model, and the specific part like cleaning a printer head. Having said that, we have organized a useful list of general tips and guidelines to help you get started.

Gather Up Your Materials

You should gather any cleaning supplies you will need to successfully clean your printer. These materials will vary depending on the type of printer you have and your actual model. You will likely always need a microfiber cloth, but other materials can vary. Some printers require canned air, isopropyl alcohol, rubbing alcohol, cotton swabs, and portable vacuum cleaners. Be sure to read the instruction manual thoroughly to know the right cleaning materials to have ready.

Insider Tip

Some printers require canned air, isopropyl alcohol, rubbing alcohol, cotton swabs, and portable vacuum cleaners.

Power the Printer Down

Before you clean a printer, especially when you are cleaning the interior of a printer, you should take great care to power it down. Modern printers are filled with sensitive electronic components that can cause bodily harm or become damaged if accessed while receiving power. When it comes to cleaning an inkjet printer, you should be able to power it down and immediately begin the cleaning process. With a laser printer, however, you should leave it powered down for an hour before initiating the cleaning process. This will ensure that the laser printer’s internal components are given time to cool down and that any rogue electricity molecules are dispersed.

Run Any Maintenance Procedures

Most modern printers can easily run maintenance procedures with the click of a button. These processes are typically found in the settings menu; engaging them ensures your printer remains maintained between full cleanings. These maintenance procedures will vary depending on the software that is used to run your printer, but they typically include a nozzle check, a print head cleaning tool, and a print head alignment tool. Make sure you have some paper on hand for test pages before initiating these maintenance processes. Now would be a good time to install new ink cartridges as well if they are needed. Just be sure to dispose of the printer cartridges properly after you have replaced them.

Consequently, if, after cleaning, the printer still isn’t functioning properly, you might want to learn how to dispose an old printer and be rid of it.


Be sure to read the instruction manual thoroughly so you know the right cleaning materials to have ready.


Why is printer maintenance necessary?

Printer maintenance is necessary to ensure that your printer keeps operating properly. Regularly maintaining your printer can increase its overall lifespan.

When should I clean the printhead?

Generally speaking, the printhead should be cleaned as part of the overall cleaning process. The printhead should also be cleaned after the printer has remained idle for a period of time, as the printhead can dry up. For more info on this topic, read about what is a printhead on a printer.

What if my printer still isn’t working?

If you have regularly cleaned and maintained your printer and it has stopped working, it could be an indicator of something serious. It may be time to bring it in for an inspection.

STAT: The average lifespan of a printer is around 3-5 years. With proper upkeep and maintenance, some printers can last longer, but eventually, your machine will need an upgrade. (source)

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