Help Me! My Toner Cartridge Is Leaking

Most recent by James Cai

Things go wrong every once a while — I haven’t met anyone who can control all the events in his life. Resilience, it seems, is all that matters in the end. This philosophy applies to leaking toner cartridges as well.


If you use refilled toner, then your chances of experiencing a toner leak are significantly higher than if you use OEMs or compatible toners. Of course, OEM and compatible toners are not immune to leaks; refilled toners just have a higher probability of leaking.


This guide provides you with step-by-step processes for cleaning up toner leaks. If you do not have basic printer maintenance skills or if opening up your printer would void your warranty, then you should contact the manufacturer or hire a professional to help. Now, let’s dive in.

How to Clean Up a Toner Cartridge Leak


Image Credit: HP


If your toner cartridge is leaking, then you should take the steps outlined below to cleaning up the plastic-dust without causing further damage to your cartridge, health, or furniture. Read on.


What NOT to do: Don’t use the regular vacuum cleaner! The toner is plastic dust, and you shouldn’t inhale it. Using a vacuum cleaning blows toner particles into the air, causing issues beyond the toner dust itself.


Well, you may ignore that warning if your printer has a specially designed vacuum for cleaning toner particles, called ESD (Electrostatic Discharge-safe) toner vacuum. The EDS vacuum has HEPA (i.e., High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filter that effectively cleans up toner spills. However, you don’t need any special vacuum cleaners if you don’t have one.


Toner Vacuum. Image Credit: Ebay


To clean up the toner leak, get these materials ready:


  • Latex gloves,

  • Paper towel,

  • Non-surgical face mask,

  • Trash bag,

  • Clear plastic, and

  • Compressed air sprayer


I’ve divided this cleaning process into two sections. First, clean the machine and then the spill site.

How to clean your machine:

1. Protect Yourself: Inhaling toner dust or having it on your skin isn’t healthy. Toner particles are extremely fine plastic powder and breathing them in can cause you serious health issues.

If you already had contact with the toner dust, clean it off your skin first. Take care of your skin first before cleaning other surfaces. You may use cold water to remove toner from your skin or hasten the removal process by using an abrasive cleaner.

Make sure that you have your face mask and latex gloves on before tacking the cleaning task. Inhaling toner dust can cause nausea, dizziness, headaches, irritations in your throat, and even lung problems (just as if you’re a cigarette smoker).

2. Allow Machine to Cool and Unplug from Electrical Contacts: If you’d turned the machine on before noticing the leak, turn it off and leave it to cool for, at least, one hour. Letting your printer cool off is essential because heated components of the copier can cause burns if you don’t allow to cool before attempting to clean it.

Make sure that you unplug your devices from electricity before you start your cleaning work. Ensure you’ve turned off the machine, unplugged power cords from AC power sockets, disconnected all cables, and stayed away from any nearby electrical contacts.

3. Bring Out Your Toner Cartridge: Open your copier’s front cover panel, using a paper towel underneath, pull your toner cartridge out. If your printer’s toner cartridge is assembled inside of a drum unit, pull out the drum unit from your printer. Make sure you don’t tilt the cartridge unduly not to worsen the toner spill.




Image Credit: Ink Technologies (YouTube)

Now, put aside the drum unit you pulled out. Avoid interfering with that drum unit.

4. Don’t Scatter Toner Further: To stop toner dust from scattering all over the place, put some clear plastic down to use as a base for your machine. Remove spilled toner powder form the copier, using a paper towel, and put them into a trash bag.

During this cleaning session, do not use water or any liquid solutions to prevent any likely damages they may cause to printer components. Liquids may also cause your toner powder to stick.


5. Finish Up Your Cleaning:

Now, if you have an EDS vacuum, it’ll find use at this stage. You can use compressed air to remove whatever toner dust remains on the copier. Make sure to give four inches of space between your vacuum cleaner and machine. Vacuum your cartridges as well.


6. Reinstall Your Copier: Now, go ahead and reinstall your machine, connect your printer cables, plug it to power, and power it on.


If your toner cartridge leak is excessive and you suspect that it may have already affected other parts of your printer, that would be a lot more work than you can handle. You may endanger your health if you take on the task of cleaning your machine by yourself. It’s best that you call a qualified copier servicing professional.


How to clean a toner spill site:



Toner spill site. Image credit: Flickr




After cleaning your printer, you may want to clean up the spill site. Use these tips:




Scoop up toner deposits if they are large, and put it in a trash bag and seal it. Make sure to check what your local regulations allow, if you may dispose of the toner powder in your public waste disposal system.

 Wet a paper towel with lukewarm water and wipe down the spill site’s surface.

 Wipe down toner from your carpet by dabbing it with a dampened clean towel and dry cleaning fluid. Do not use water. Using water would likely stain the carpet permanently. If you can’t use dry cleaning fluid, use a toner vacuum.

 In case you find any remaining toner on the floor or other surfaces, you can use a toner vacuum to vacuum them all up. It’s imperative that you use ONLY toner vacuum and not a different type of vacuum cleaner. The filters of toner vacuum cleaners can pick up toner dust without dispersing them through the air.


Reduce the Leak and Salvage the Cartridge

It’s best to call your manufacturer or a trained technician to help you determine if your toner leak can be reduced or fixed. If the leak is from a toner cartridge that’s still full, then you may be reluctant to change or buy a replacement so soon.


Checking with your manufacturer or maintenance professional could help you determine if buying a new cartridge is the smart option. However, more often than not, you’d have to replace a leaking toner cartridge with a new one.




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