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Inkjet Printer Cleaning and Maintenance Tips

The upkeep and maintenance of a printer is just as important as maintaining a computer but is often overlooked. A printer that is properly maintained will print better and provide many years of service. With a couple of short procedures and a minimal amount of time, a clean and well-maintained printer is never far away.

Maintenance procedures for an inkjet printer should be performed on a monthly basis. These procedures can also be used to correct printing problems such as streaking, gaps in printing, and ink smearing.

NOTE: This article provides a general overview of how to clean a printer and recommendations for cleaning materials. For best results, please refer to your printer’s documentation for detailed printer maintenance instructions.

Ink/Paper Quality
Though it is tempting to purchase the cheapest ink and paper available for a printer this is not always a good practice. Lower quality paper and ink can greatly reduce the printers functionality can cause printing and hardware problems – it is worth staying with the manufacturers recommendation for ink and paper.

Printer Maintenance
Several procedures are used to keep an ink jet printer clean and functioning properly. These include checking the nozzle, cleaning the print heads and performing a print head alignment. The programs for these procedures are usually located in the printer control panel which is access from Start | Control Panel | Printers – select the printer for maintenance. For addition information on accessing your printer’s control panel please refer to your printer’s documentation.

Checking the Nozzle / Cleaning Print Heads
Depending on the make and model of the inkjet printer, these selections may be separate or combined as one selection. The nozzle on an inkjet printer is where the ink is released from the cartridge during printing – it is part of the print head. When left unused over a period of time the ink in the nozzle can dry which created a clogged nozzle. Symptoms of a clogged nozzle include printouts that have gaps or white streaks in the printout.

For some models, the printer control panel will have an option to check the nozzles and if there is a problem then clean the print heads. Other models do not have the option to check the nozzle – just the ability to clean the print head.

Print Head Alignment
If the print heads on a printer are not aligned then printout will appear to be misaligned – this is easily fixed by running a print head alignment from the printer control panel. In addition, each time the ink cartridges are changed a print head alignment should be performed to make sure the cartridges are aligned before printing.

General Cleaning
The outside of the printer should be kept clean with a damp cloth. The inside should be cleaned with condensed air to remove any dirt and dust buildup. In addition, alcohol swabs can be used to remove any ink buildup and to clean rollers of any dirt and grime.

Ink Jet Printer Cleaning Kit
Inkjet Printer Cleaning Kit

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