How to Safely Clean Your Printer (Step-By-Step) 

Submitted by Nolan Fowler on Tue, 01/03/2023 - 09:00
Person using a cloth to clean the glass on a printer

How do you properly clean your printer? How often should you clean it? Do you even need to? 

Believe it or not, cleaning your printer/copier is an important part of owning one, especially when it’s a machine you rely on every day to carry out your business’s document processes.  

If you don’t clean your printer, various service or print issues can occur. And if you clean your printer with the wrong materials, it could cause costly damage to the machine. 

That is why, as a long-time company in the printer/copier industry, we want to share our expertise on safely and efficiently cleaning your office machine so you can avoid any cleanliness-related issues with your printer. 

Since we are a Xerox Platinum Solutions Partner, we are going to be going over the exact steps Xerox has detailed for consumers to clean their printers.  

The steps we will be going over, although written for Xerox machines, should be able to be applied to other printer brands, as well, but to be safe, you will want to check your manufacturer’s specific instructions for cleaning. 

We will also go over the reasons why cleaning your printer is important and tell you exactly how often you should clean your machine to ensure its effectiveness.  

Why Should You Clean Your Printer? 

As the introduction stated, cleaning your printer is in fact, a very crucial part of owning one. 

Think of your printer like you would your car: How often do you take your car to the car wash? 

Printers can cost thousands of dollars, and although they’re not thought of in the same way as a car, they can be just as pricey as one. For example, the Xerox AltaLink C8170, an advanced multifunction printer (print, copy, scan and fax), has a starting cost of around $15,100. 

According to Autolist, that’s around the same price as a 2021 Chevrolet Spark or 2021 Nissan Versa. And that’s not including optional accessories that you may want to include on your printer, as well as other “hidden” costs, like printer insurance. 

The point of this analogy is to say that your office printer, while not as glamorous, is much like the vehicle you drive every day in that it needs proper care and maintenance to function properly. 

Neglecting basic cleaning practices could lead to issues like: 

  • Print quality issues, like lines appearing on your documents when copying because of a dirty automatic document feeder (ADF).   

  • Scans could show up with smears or particles on them if the strip of glass on the scanner is not clean. 

  • Toner from the printer can “escape” and become messy, which is difficult to clean once it’s occurred.  

To avoid printer problems, and others associated with a dirty machine, you need to properly clean your machine. How do you do that? Let’s go over the steps to safely cleaning your printer in the next section: 

Step-By-Step Instructions on How to Clean Your Printer 

These are the exact steps from Xerox’s Cleaning Guide on how to properly clean printers, both single-function (print only), multifunction (print, copy, scan and fax) and production presses: 

  1. Wear disposable gloves made of latex or nitrile gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.  

  1. Turn off the device, disconnect AC power, and unplug device from the outlet before cleaning. Do not clean a product while it is powered on and plugged in as it may cause electrification.   

  2. Moisten a clean, soft, lint free, cotton cloth with a mixture of 70% isopropyl alcohol and 30% water (also known as rubbing alcohol). Do not use fibrous materials, such as paper towels. The cloth should be moist with no free liquid to ensure dripping does not occur.  

  3. Do not spray any liquids directly onto the product.  

  1. Gently wipe the moistened cloth on the surfaces to be cleaned. Take care to prevent moisture from entering inside the product or between gaps around the control panel or buttons. Disinfectant entering the product may result in extensive damage or failure due to corrosion.  

  1. When cleaning a display screen or control panel, carefully wipe in one direction, moving from the top of the display to the bottom. Do not rub the control panel strongly as it can be easily scratched or cracked.  

  1. Ensure surfaces have completely air-dried before turning the device on after cleaning. No moisture should be visible on the surface of the product before it is powered back on.  

  1. Discard gloves after each cleaning. Clean hands immediately after gloves are removed.  

Notes of caution when using isopropyl alcohol, courtesy of Xerox: 

  • Avoid contact with skin, eyes and clothing. 

  • Keep away from heat and sources of ignition.  

  • Use with adequate ventilation. 

  • Store in a cool, well-ventilated place and keep the container tightly closed. 

  • In the event of contact with isopropyl alcohol, wash skin thoroughly with soap and water.  

Xerox also cautions that using high levels of isopropyl alcohol may cause color unevenness, discoloration, cracks in the surface or blurs, so follow the precautions listed above and try cleaning on a hidden spot first. 

How Often Should You Clean Your Printer? 

How often you need to clean your machine depends on a few factors: The type of machine you have, how often you use it and the location of your machine are a few of the major ones. 

For example, if you have a smaller, at-home, printer that you use every so often, you won’t need to clean it nearly as much as you would an office printer that gets used every day during the week. 

On the other hand, if you work at a construction site and have a printer somewhere close by, odds are it’s going to get dirtier than a machine that’s housed in an office. Meaning, you will likely have to clean it more often than traditional workgroups.  

Generally speaking, you should clean your machine once you notice any problems with your prints, as it is a good first step that may solve some printing issues. 

Not all workgroups are created equal, so if you notice that your printer is getting dirty or experiencing a cleanliness-related issue, make sure to take action before the problem becomes more pronounced.    

Want More Tips on How to Make Your Printer Last? 

As you’ve learned throughout this article, cleaning your printer is a significant aspect of owning one, especially if you heavily depend on it during your daily business operations. 

But make sure to follow these steps closely, because cleaning your printer improperly or with the wrong substances could lead to damage that could cost money and time to repair. 

Our goal as an almost 40-year-old print vendor is to equip you with the knowledge necessary for you to have a happy and sustainable relationship with your printer. 

If you’ve paid good money for a new printer, you need to make sure you get the most out of the machine for as long as possible. 

Read our eight tips to increase the lifespan of your printer/copier to learn some more best practices to getting the most out of your printer investment.