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Tips For Fixing & Maintaining Your Printer

Printer maintenance tips

It is a good idea to perform preventive maintenance on your printer on a regular basis. Depending upon how frequently you use the printer you may want to do this as often as once per week.


Preventive Maintenance

The printer heads are the area where most preventable maintenance issues occur. Most inkjet printers have some sort of automatic utility program by which you can instruct the printer to go through a self-cleaning cycle. Doing this regularly will prevent it from developing clogged printer heads.

The printer's self-cleaning cycle can consume a significant amount of ink, so you may want to alternate with manual cleaning. You can remove the ink cartridges and give them a quick cleaning using a Q-tip that has been moistened with either water or isopropyl alcohol (be sure to use 91% denatured isopropyl alcohol - not 'rubbing' alcohol).

You can also use a lint-free cloth to clean the printer's rollers and other elements to remove dust or pieces of paper that may have collected inside the printer. NOTE: Dirt and debris should never be cleaned from the printer using a vacuum cleaner because it can cause damage to the circuitry of the printer.

Finally you may want to purchase a printer cleaning kit and use it regularly on your printer. A typical cleaning kit usually has a tube of ammonia that you can spray on the printer head to remove dried ink.

Daily Maintenance Tips

In addition to the above there are some easy steps you can take on a daily basis to protect your printer:

  • Since print heads become clogged when not used for long periods of time, print a page or two at least twice a week to keep the print heads clear. Some experts say that it is better to print one colorful page a week than to run a printer cleaning cycle, because doing so uses a lot less ink. In general, using the printer prevents the ink in the printer cartridges from drying up, which is the main cause of clogging.
  • Replace empty inkjet cartridges immediately. Operating an inkjet printer while the ink supply is cut off can damage the machine.
  • Turn the printer off and cover it when it is not in use. Leaving the printer on keeps the ink in the cartridge warm and can cause it to bleed onto the printer head. If the printer is on most of the day the printer heads are exposed to air, dust, pet hair, etc., which can cause them to dry out more quickly and become clogged.
  • If you need to store your printer it would be best to take the printer cartridge out and store it separately. Make sure your hands are clean - touching the printer head with oily or dirty hands can leave skin oil on the printer head and add to the possibility of it getting clogged.


One of the best and easiest ways to take care of your printer is to use it regularly. Printing a few pages in color and black & white at least twice a week will ensure that most serious maintenance issues will never arise.

About William Elward

Founder of Castle Ink, William Elward has 20 years experience in the printer industry. He's been featured on CNN Money, Yahoo, PC World, Computer World, and other top publications and frequently blogs about printers and ink cartridges. He's an expert at diagnosing printer issues and has published guides to fixing common printer issues across the internet. A graduate of Bryant University and Columbia's Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program, he's held various leadership positions at The College Board, Bankrate, Zocdoc, and Everyday Health. Follow him on Twitter at William Elward's Twitter Profile