How To Clean Your Printer Rollers



Rubber printer rollers grab the sheets of paper in the paper tray of your printer and feed them through the machine. When your finished print comes gliding smoothly out of your printer, you can thank your printer rollers. 

But when your printer starts to suffer paper jams or poor print quality, that means your printer rollers are not grabbing paper correctly because they’re dirty. 

It’s time to give each printer roller in your machine a thorough cleaning. 

Wake up, grasshopper--time to learn how to clean rollers on your printer!

Introduction to Printer Roller Cleaning and Maintenance

Printer rollers get dirty over time, especially if you do a lot of duplex printing. Dirty printer rollers leave smudges and streaks on your prints, and bits of paper can cause your rollers to jam.

Fortunately, cleaning printer rollers is a fairly easy task to complete. Cleaning printer rollers means wiping that junk down! 

HP recommends you clean HP printer rollers and HP pickup roller monthly, especially if your HP printer rollers won’t grab paper.

You may need a printer roller cleaning if:

  • You see laser printer streaking
  • Printer is not feeding paper properly
  • Printer not grabbing paper
  • Printer jams frequently
  • Printer is leaving black streaks
  • Printer is printing lines
  • Printer is smearing ink
  • Printer skips lines
  • Printer not printing clearly
  • You hear printer rollers squeaking

If you find your HP printer won’t feed paper or if you have a Brother printer leaving black marks on edge of paper sheets, it’s time for a printer roller cleaning. 

Clean your printing rollers to avoid paper jams and keep your machine running smoothly. And while you’re in there, why not  clean your print heads, too!

How To Clean Printer Rollers

Don’t fear, cleaning your printer rollers is not difficult and the improvement in image quality will be immediately noticeable.

Unplug First

Unplug your printer before you start cleaning. You don’t want to damage your printer or shock yourself! Safety first!

Finding Your Printer Rollers

Where are your printer rollers located? 

Inkjet printers usually have printer rollers located on the bottom, above the paper tray

Remove the paper tray and feel around the top of the cavity to find the rollers. The rollers should turn freely. If they don’t, use the paper feed button on your printer to rotate the rollers for cleaning.

Laser printer rollers are also found near the paper tray

In some cases, you may need to open the printer’s access panel and remove the toner cartridge to reach the rollers. 

Also, some rollers may need to be removed before cleaning. Squeeze the plastic clips on either side of the roller to release it. 

Okay, ready to learn how to clean rollers on an HP printer, how to clean the printer rollers on a Canon, how to clean Lexmark printer rollers, Epson, or pretty much any other printer? Read on!

Simple Job

Cleaning your paper rollers is a pretty straightforward job. It’s not hard. 

Even the supplies you need to clean printer rollers are basic:

  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • A lint-free cloth
  • Rubber gloves (optional)

Here’s how to clean your printer rollers:

  • Moisten your lint-free cloth with isopropyl alcohol
  • Wipe the grime off your printer rollers

That’s about it. 

Seriously, there’s not much more to it than that. 

The only time things get tricky is when you’re trying to clean the hard-to-reach rollers inside the machine. 

But don’t worry, we’ve got a pro roller cleaning tip! 

We know the best way to clean printer rollers! A clean roller is a happy roller! No more printer roller marks on paper! No more HP printer streaks when printing or Canon printer skipping lines!

If your printer won’t grab paper or your notice toner smudges on paper, it’s time to whip up some magical printer roller cleaner — rubbing alcohol applied with a clean cotton cloth!

☝  Roller Cleaning: Pro Tip!

Make your own printer roller cleaner sheets!

Soak the middle of a piece of letter-size paper with rubbing alcohol, being careful to leave the edges dry.

Run this moistened sheet of paper through your printer two or three times to clean the pickup roller for the tray, and clear out ink or toner that had gotten on the paper feeder rollers.

This is a great laser printer roller cleaner that works equally well on inkjet printers. If you’ve got a  Brother printer leaving roller marks on paper, this will fix it.

Troubleshooting Printer Issues: Streaks, Lines, and More

To address laser printer streaks, the first step is to run a cleaning cycle on your laser printer. This will automatically clean the transfer rollers. 

However, you will also need to manually clean the pickup tray rollers using rubbing alcohol and a clean, lint-free cloth.

If you're experiencing black lines on paper when printing, the cause may vary depending on the type of printer. For inkjet printers, a drop of black ink on the roller can leave streaks on the paper. 

In the case of laser printers, excess toner powder may be stuck to the rollers. Performing a roller cleaning should resolve this issue.

If your printer is printing lines, there are a couple of possible reasons. Inkjet printers can sometimes get clogged, especially if they haven't been used for a while, causing the tiny holes in the print head to become blocked by dried ink. 

Running a cleaning cycle or two should help resolve this problem. Similarly, for laser printers, running a cleaning cycle followed by a roller cleaning can eliminate unwanted lines on printouts. 

If you're encountering spots on paper with an HP laser printer, using a roller cleaner should solve the problem.

Why Does My Printer Keep Jamming?

Because your printer is a rock star, man!

Seriously, the most likely reason for  paper jams is maligned sheets in the paper tray. If the paper sheets go in crooked, they are bound to jam.

The second most common reason for paper jams is tiny bits of paper clogging the gears inside your printer. You may have to go hunting with a flashlight and a pair of tweezers, but once you clear those tiny paper particles out of your printer, you should eliminate most paper jams.

Replacing Your Rollers

You may ask yourself why is my printer printing with lines, or why is my printer not taking paper? 

Sometimes it’s simply impossible to get all the ink and toner stains off your rollers. (And harder still to get off  your clothes and carpet. But don’t worry, we’ll show you how to get it out.) 

Is your printer not feeding paper or do you find your printer leaving black streaks? 

If your paper pickup rollers are stained or damaged, it might be easier to simply replace them. 

Don’t worry, it’s not difficult!

Replacing Your Transfer Roller

  1. Use the tip of a screwdriver to lift the left end of the transfer roller (roller that transfers images onto paper). Once it is out, slide it to the left and remove it.
  2. Wear latex gloves when installing the new transfer roller, and only handle the roller by the ends.
  3. Slide the right end of the transfer roller into place, and then work the left side gear down until it clicks into place.

Replacing the Tray One Pickup Roller

  1. Remove the front accessory cover.
  2. Locate the printer pickup roller at the center of the tray.
  3. Release the roller by pressing the clips on each side of the roller simultaneously.
  4. Slide new paper pick up roller into place until it clicks.
  5. Replace front accessory plate.

Replacing the Tray Two Pickup Roller

  1. Remove tray two.
  2. Locate the tray two pickup roller (the roller that picks up the paper from the tray, also called a “take up roller”).
  3. Release the paper pickup roller by pulling the tabs at either side of the roller, then slide the roller off the shaft.
  4. Slide the new roller onto the shaft and rotate the roller until it clicks into place.

Replacing Tray Two Separation Roller

  1. Install the tray two paper bin, leaving it half way out to allow access to the separation roller.
  2. Open the access door on the lower tray, exposing the roller.
  3. Remove the roller by pinching the two tabs at the end and pulling to the left.
  4. Install the new roller, turning until it locks into place.
  5. Close the access door.
  6. Close tray two.
  7. Plug your printer back in and turn it on. The main menu display on your printer should tell you new components have been installed and the printer may run some diagnostic testing to make sure they’re installed correctly.

Eventually, the time will come to toss your printer out altogether. If so, make sure you  get rid of your old printer the right way!

HP Color Laser Jet Enterprise M553 transfer roller
The transfer rollers located into an HP Color Laser Jet Enterprise M553. Don't forget it when it's time to clean HP printer rollers! If you find your HP printer streaks, tell it to put some clothes on and behave itself!
Printer pickup roller and transfer roller of a HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M477fdn
The printer pickup roller and transfer roller of a HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M477fdn. If your HP Printer keeps jamming, or your HP printer won't feed paper, it might be time to replace the transfer roller.
Toner Buzz pen sits below the rollers of this HP Envy 4520
A Toner Buzz pen sits below the rollers of this HP Envy 4520. Avoid an HP Envy paper jam by keeping these bad boys clean!
Feeder rollers of HP Envy 4520
Why is my printer printing lines through everything? The rollers are probably dirty if your printer leaves streaks or if you've got a printer smearing ink. Don’t forget these feeder rollers in the HP Envy 4520!
Transfer roller of an HP Color LaserJet Enterprise MFP M680
The transfer roller of an HP Color LaserJet Enterprise MFP M680. If your HP printer is not grabbing paper, these rollers may be the culprit. 
Paper feed roller of an HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M477fdn
The paper feed roller of an HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M477fdn. If your HP printer streaks when printing, or your HP laser printer spots on paper, clean this thing!
Rob Errera

Rob Errera

Rob Errera is an award-winning journalist embedded in the world of printers and printing supplies. Rob has nearly two decades of experience writing about cutting edge technology, business trends, and the ever-evolving industry of printing.

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