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The most important thing to remember when attempting maintenance on your printer is to be safe. Turn off the power and keep your hands away from fusers, sharp edges, and moving parts. Take precautions to keep yourself and your printer damage-free.

1.  Dust and Vacuum

When dust, hair, or other air-borne debris settle inside your printer, these minute particles wear away at gears and other moving parts. They can also produce paper jams and clog up the print head on your ink cartridges, causing streaks on printed pages. One of the cheapest and easiest ways to maintain your printer is to cover it up with a printer cover when it’s not in use.

It is also beneficial to wipe down your printer from time to time and remove any accumulated dust. Use a soft, damp cloth to wash the outside of the machine. Never spray cleaner directly onto the printer, only onto a cleaning cloth. Dust that has settled inside the printer can be carefully removed using a small vacuum; be careful not to touch any parts inside the machine. Vacuuming is preferable to using canned air dusters that stir up dust and toner, allowing it to settle again inside the machine.

2.  Clean the Glass

If you have an all-in-one printer, your machine has glass components used for the scanner/copier/fax functions. Wipe these areas down with a damp cloth, paying special attention to any spots. These seemingly insignificant spots are often the cause of unsightly streaks on printed documents.

3.  Use New Paper

Print on paper right out of the pack. If this is not realistic, partially fill your paper tray and put the rest of the ream into a closed box or in its original wrapper. Paper that sits out will absorb humidity—a factor that increases the likelihood of paper jams. Never use paper in your printer that is warped or curled, has crumpled edges, or is torn.

4.  Print Some Pages

One big way to care for your printer is to use it regularly. When an inkjet printer sits unused for long periods of time, the ink tends to dry and clog up the print head. This is often the cause of white streaks or completely blank printed pages. To keep the ink flowing freely, print something at least twice a week, and make sure to print in color, not just black and white.

5.  No Tools Inside

Do not stick sharp objects such as tweezers, screwdrivers, or scissors inside the printer where there’s a good chance of damaging the internal parts. Most printer problems, such as paper jams, can be resolved with a little patience and two hands. See, What to Do for Paper Jams.

6.  Clean Printer Heads

Printer heads are famous for clogging. You’ve probably seen a document come out of a printer with white lines across the text even though the cartridges are full. This means the printer heads are clogged and need to be cleaned. See your printer manual or look on the manufacturer’s website to learn how to clean the printer heads on your particular model. It is usually as easy as clicking the Start button in the bottom left-hand corner of your screen and then clicking Devices and Printers.  Right-click on the printer icon and select Properties. Select the maintenance tab and choose nozzle test and select the “Cleaning” option. Don’t clean the heads too frequently because it will use up ink at each cleaning.

7.  Maintenance Kit

By investing a little time and money, you can extend the life of your printer by ordering a maintenance kit. They can be purchased from the manufacturer where your printer was made. These kits include a range of maintenance products from cleaning supplies to changeable printer parts which commonly wear out and need to be replaced.

8.  Drivers Up-to-Date

If your printer is older than your computer, you will need to pay special attention to keeping the drivers up to date. Visit the printer manufacturer’s website; look on the tech support page for any relevant downloads such as the newest drivers, updates, or patches.