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How to Clean Your Home Office Laser Printer

written by: Joli Ballew•edited by: John Garger•updated: 5/14/2010

Laser printers are more expensive than ink-jet printers and don’t work by laying ink down on the paper. They are much more complex. Learn how to clean your laser printer so you can print crisp, clean documents.

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    Introduction

    If you have a laser printer you believe needs cleaning, you can pay a professional to do it, or, you can try to do it yourself. However, most laser printers are fairly expensive, and opening the case to clean it may void the warranty. You’ll have to decide if you’re up to the task before taking on the cleaning procedure yourself. Are you ready to open up a high-dollar machine to try? If so, read the manufacturer’s instructions and then return here for a few more pointers.

    Tip: If cleaning the laser printer yourself will void the warranty, I suggest against it. Instead, purchase the manufacturer’s printer cleaning kit and follow the directions there, or take the printer to a service center.

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    How Laser Printers Get Dirty

    When a laser printer prints, the printer puts millions of tiny dots, which form words and images, onto the paper. Although many factors are at work, there are two that make the cleaning process a little trickier: toner, a messy black powder that can be a hazard if spilled, and a fuser roller, which can get very hot when in use. While printing, the printer emits small particles of toner dust, which forms gunk that sticks to everything it meets. This dust and resulting gunk must be cleaned up occasionally or problems will occur.

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    Laser Printer Cleaning Kits

    Laser printer cleaning kits contain everything you’ll need to clean your laser printer, along with detailed instructions. Most kits contain cartridge cleaning papers, cleaning solutions, swabs, cloths, and hand wipes. Going this route rather than gathering the materials yourself guarantees that the swabs are lint free, the cloths are antistatic, and the cleaning solution is the correct type for your printer. Your cleaning kit may also include a toner grabber, which picks up toner just as a magnetized screwdriver picks up screws. There’s no trick to it, unless you don’t want to use a cleaning kit and choose to use your own tools!

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    Doing It Yourself

    If you want to make a career out of cleaning laser printers, you should take a class, read a book, and purchase the required equipment. That’s going to be about the only way to justify not using the manufacturer’s laser printer cleaning kit, as least economically, when you want to clean your printer yourself. If you must though, there are some things you’ll need to know and some things you’ll need to purchase.

    Toner is nasty stuff. You shouldn’t inhale it, blow it into the air, or get it on your skin. You’ll need to work in a room with minimal air disruptions and clean up any toner that you spill. You can’t use a regular vacuum though; vacuums won’t pick up such small particles. Instead, you’ll need a toner vacuum. Oh, and you’ll need replacement filters too.

    While inside the case, be careful of the fuser roller. It’s hot. For safety, you should turn off the printer for a little while before you open it. There are also some extremely delicate and expensive parts you’ll need to be careful not to break, like the corona wire. You’ll need a few other things too, like a mask and gloves and some experience with laser printers and how they work.

    So, if you still have your nerve and are insistent on doing it yourself, here are all of the items you’ll need and some advice on how to use them:

    * Paper mat to place the printer on and gather excess dust.

    * Toner mask to wear to keep particles from getting into your lungs.

    * Latex gloves to keep toner off your hands.

    * Brush to remove toner from crevices. You’ll use the brush in conjunction with the vacuum and cloth (see the next two items).

    * Toner vacuum to vacuum toner from crevices and paper paths.

    * Toner cloth to clean up excess toner after vacuuming. Use the cloth outside the case in the paper path. Do not use inside the case because you could leave remnants of the cloth inside.

    * Lint-free cotton swabs to clean the corona wire. Use in conjunction with alcohol.

    * Isopropyl alcohol. Use pure alcohol to clean the corona wire. Gently, please.

    It’s my opinion that it’s best to do a simple clean a few times a year with a cleaning kit (and use the manufacturer’s cleaning kit) and then take the printer to a qualified technician for a deep clean once a year. There are a million things that can go wrong while cleaning a laser printer: breaking the corona wire, leaving remnants of a cloth inside the printer, burning yourself on the fuser roller. It’s best to take a more realistic approach, one that is safer for both you and your machine.