Updated: 14/08/2017

Given that laser printers have no end of hi-tech wizardry under the bonnet, you’d expect them to be difficult to clean and maintain. But compared to inkjets – whose innards are often flecked with messy ink residue – laser printers are surprisingly easy to clean, provided you have the right tools and equipment that is.

In this step-by-step, fool-proof guide, we’ll be demonstrating how to safely and effectively clean a laser printer, as well as divvying up some advice on the tools you’ll need to get the job done right.

 laser toner cartridge and tools

What You’ll Need


As laser printers use powdered toner in the print process, you’ll need to use a few specialist tools to ensure the complete removal of any fine particles. Below, we’ve outlined the specialist tools and equipment required to clean a laser printer effectively.


Activated Toner Cloth: A disposable cloth which, when activated by stretching the cloth has a non oily coating that traps the particles for easy removal.


Isopropyl Alcohol / Aerosol Spry Duster: Sometimes known as rubbing alcohol, isopropyl alcohol is ideal for cleaning mechanical equipment as it quickly evaporates leaving no fluid behind. Use this to ensure no residue is left behind after cleaning. The Air spray duster can be used to help reach those difficult places and blow the toner particles away.


Dust Mask: If inhaled, whilst not dangerous, powdered toner can sometimes cause irritation. Before you open the printer toner compartment, ensure the room is well ventilated and don a dust mask just to be sure you don’t cause yourself any problems.


Latex Gloves: If exposed to the skin, toner can cause irritation; wear latex or rubber gloves to prevent this.


Toner Vacuum (Optional): A toner vacuum is a powerful handheld device capable of gently removing toner from inside a laser printer. Though extremely useful, toner vacuums are expensive, so we’ve marked it an optional tool.


How to Clean Your Laser Printer


Once you’re tooled up with the equipment above, it’s time to open your printer and get to work. Before you do that, we’d like to remind you that should you feel uncomfortable handling any internal components, make sure you contact an experienced printer technician or someone with prior experience who can complete the clean for you.

A prior word of warning…There are a few areas inside your printer that you must not touch with your fingers and be as gentle as possible when cleaning residue from them as they are easily damaged and would need to be replaced if they were. These include the toner drum unit which can often be built into the toner cartridge but sometimes a separate unit. This will look like a green cylinder and will be covered by a plastic cover called the toner hopper.

Here’s what the drum looks like:

Toner Drum Unit


Step 1: Switch Off, Cool Down


Before you open up your printer and start scouring – hold your horses. First, you’ll need to turn the printer off at the mains as you don’t want to electrocute yourself and – if you’ve recently used the machine – wait for it to cool down. Laser printers grow extremely hot when switched on, so it’s important to give them time to cool.


Step 2: Removing and Cleaning the Toner Cartridge


Once the printer has cooled, open the back or front panel and remove the toner cartridge (your printer’s manual can tell you how to do this). Using a square of toner cloth, remove excess toner from the cartridge, before setting to one side on a second piece of toner cloth.


Step 3: Remove Excess Toner from Internal Components


Using a square of toner cloth (or a toner vacuum if you’ve purchased one) reach inside the machine and remove any and all excess toner from internal surfaces. Toner is likely to build up around the cartridge housing, as well as on other components that may prove difficult to reach. Try to be as gentle as possible when cleaning inside the machine, as some components are fragile and costly to replace if damaged.


Step 4: Swab Surfaces with Isopropyl Alcohol


For intricate components such as cables and wires, moisten a cotton swab with isopropyl alcohol and gently wipe with isopropyl alcohol to ensure a safe, sterile clean. This 99% pure chemical will remove debris from internal parts whilst leaving no trace of residue. Be careful to only rub components as gently as possible to be sure not to cause any long term damage through scratches.


Step 5: Reassemble


Once you’re happy you’ve carefully removed any and all toner from within the machine, it’s time to reinsert the toner cartridge and its accompanying bottle. Making reference the user manual where necessary, insert the cartridge and close the machine before performing any cartridge realignment checks as recommended by the manufacturer. It’s also a good idea to produce a couple of trial prints to ensure everything is working as it should. And you’re done.

How to clean your laser printer


If you enjoyed this article and would like to find out more about printer maintenance, be sure to check out the rest of the Toner Giant blog. Alternatively, if you’re interested in purchasing replacement toner cartridges for your laser printer, visit our homepage.