How to Clean a Printer Fuser

By Finn McCuhil

Let your printer cool off before cleaning the fuser.
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The function of a fuser unit in a laser printer is to bake the powdered ink onto the paper. When the surface of the fuser is dirty or obstructed to the point that it cannot make contact with the surface of the paper, the ink remains powdery and smears with the lightest contact. Cleaning the fuser unit, as with all printer maintenance, should be done with care to prevent damaging the delicate surfaces inside the printer.

Turn the printer off and unplug it. The fuser generates a great deal of heat. Allow the printer to cool for at least one hour before attempting maintenance.

Open the printer’s access panels. There may be several on the printer, depending on the model. The more access you can get to the inner workings of the printer, the easier it will be to remove loose toner and debris.

Remove the toner cartridge and any other user-removable units in the printer. Consult your printer’s user manual to determine which parts can be removed safely.

Vacuum the printer’s interior thoroughly with a toner vacuum. A toner vacuum has an extremely fine filter designed to capture the toner particles. A standard vacuum cleaner filter will allow much of the waste toner to escape through the vacuum’s exhaust port and into the air in the office.

Dampen a lint-free rag with isopropyl alcohol. Use at least 90 percent or reagent strength alcohol for this job. Rubbing alcohol is usually only around 60 percent alcohol and will not evaporate as quickly. It may also contain other ingredients that can leave a residue on the fuser surface.

Wipe the surface of the fuser pad clean with the dampened rag. The surface of the fuser is made of a Teflon film that is easily damaged. Use only light pressure when cleaning.

Reassemble the printer and close the access panels.

Turn the printer on and print a test page. If problems persist even after the fuser is clean, it may be defective and need to be replaced.

Items you will need

  • Toner vacuum

  • Clean, lint-free cloth

  • Isopropyl alcohol


The fuser element is extremely hot. Always turn the printer off and allow it to cool completely before attempting any maintenance or repair.