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How to Clean a Printer

Tips for Cleaning Ink off Printers

Cleaning dust off the top of your printer is a simple task. All you need is a damp cloth. Just don't use any solvents that could harm the plastic casing. This basic maintenance task can keep dust from working its way into the printer's inner workings. If you end up with stray ink in places you don't want it, isopropyl alcohol is generally considered a safe and effective solvent. It's flammable, so be careful.

Laser printers use a fuser and toner instead of nozzles and ink. Cleaning one is a more involved process and can be dangerous, since some parts of a laser printer can be very hot, and toner particles can irritate your lungs if you inhale them. Follow the procedures in your laser printer's manual -- and when in doubt, call a professional printer service technician.

Your best bet is to avoid printer problems with maintenance and proper usage. Print a page or two -- each in black and white and color -- each week if the printer hasn't been used. It wastes some ink, but keeps print nozzles from clogging.

An often overlooked aspect of proper printer care is the paper you put into it. "Choose high-quality papers," said Brown. "Low-quality papers tend to have a rougher finish which will cause unnecessary wear and tear on your printer, from the rollers to the paper pick to the output tray. These papers may also leave tiny traces of paper fibers within in the printer which can clog a print nozzle. Beyond that, low quality papers will also affect the ink-toner interaction with the paper and result in lower quality prints." He also emphasized the importance of using quality inks and cartridges -- third party or recycled ink products can give you short-term savings but cause long-term problems.

For more information on appliance maintenance, see the links on the next page.