Tips on cleaning your printer and scanner

You keep all your peripherals clean, right? Or clean-ish at least. Your mouse and keyboard are constantly under your nose, so you probably give them a wipe from time to time. And you stare at your monitor all evening or day, perhaps, so when you notice smears and stains on that, you probably give it a wipe, too.

But don’t forget about the devices which are out of sight, maybe tucked away under your computer desk, like your printer or scanner. They might not need cleaning often, but every once in a while, you should consider giving them a once-over. You might need to if you notice blotches on your scans, or your printer starts playing up. At any rate, here’s how to clean both your scanner and printer safely.

Scanners

Use a dry microfibre or lint-free cloth moistened (being the key word, not wet) with water or a mild glass cleaner on flatbed scanners. (HP says isopropanol and butoxypropanol-based cleaners are okay). Cleaners with ammonia or isopropyl alcohol may leave streaks. Cleaners with abrasives, acetone, benzene, or carbon tetrachloride may damage the glass.

Sheet-fed scanners can be gently vacuumed to remove paper lint. You can also use fax, ADF (automatic document feeder), or scanner-cleaning sheets; run these sheets through a couple of times. With some, you moisten the fuzzy sheet with an included cleaning liquid first. Higher-end sheet-fed scanners and printers let you replace slipping rollers; for the others, wipe the rollers with a cloth soaked in pure rubbing alcohol (clear, not green). If you can reach the scanning elements, clean them with a microfiber cloth; using compressed gas might leave a slight residue.

Printers

Inkjets have their own cleaning utility built in. Bear in mind that most print quality problems are cured with ink cartridges (or toner). But if your cartridges are fairly new and you notice issues with your prints – colour dropouts, for example – and you find you need to run the built-in cleaning utility more than twice, print two or three test pages with black and with each colour before running another cleaning cycle. Printing the test pages may even fix the problem. If, after six tries with the cleaning utility, you still have clogged nozzles, turn off the printer and let it sit unused for two or three hours. That can give air bubbles a chance to work their way out through the nozzles – then try again.

As for laser printers, should you own one of these, then clean it with laser-specific cleaner sheets.