How to Clean a Toner Drum

By Contributing Writer

Updated July 21, 2017

If your printer is smudging or streaking pages, you should probably replace the toner drum. But, to save money, you may first try cleaning it, although you must be careful not to permanently damage the drum. Also know that you'll be handling a toxic waste, so use protective gloves. avoid contact with your eyes and proceed carefully.


After switching the machine off, unplug it and disconnect all cables. Also, make sure there is no excessive light in the room, since the drum is photosensitive. The light from an office lamp should be fine.

Uncover the drum unit and remove it. To do this, follow the instructions for your particular device. These can be found either inside the cover or in the manual. If you have just used the printer, some parts may be hot, so use caution going in.

Put the drum on a flat surface with a sheet of disposable paper or cloth underneath it in case you accidentally spill or scatter toner. You may want to wear gloves and other protective clothing, such as a surgical mask, because toner is a toxic substance, potentially a carcinogen. If it comes in contact with your skin, wash the affected area immediately.

If your print-outs seem to bear the same smudge or streak, take a sample and place it in front of the drum, which you'll turn by hand while looking at its surface.Try to find the mark on the drum that matches the print sample.

Some printers have toner drum cartridges equipped with their own cleaning mechanism. Once a month or so, run this mechanism to keep the drum in fine working order.

To clean the drum manually, wipe its surface (or just the area bearing the offending marks) with a cotton swab. The swab can be dry. For extra cleaning power, dip it in rubbing alcohol, then clean carefully But do not use a scrubbing or wiping motion, which might damage the drum.


Do not touch the drum with your fingers or you may damage it permanently. And do not try to clean it with any sharp object.

Items you will need

  • Cotton swabs

  • Rubbing alcohol

  • Gloves