Often, people are quick to replace their printer drums when they quit working properly. However, this isn't always necessary. Given the cost of drum units, wouldn't it be great if there was a way to extend the life of one? There is. If prints start coming out with lines, streaks, blotches, or other defects don't toss that drum unit just yet. All it may need is a thorough cleaning. Luckily, with a little effort and a few supplies, a person can easily get a drum unit back into good working order saving themselves the cost of a new one.
To clean a drum unit, a person needs to gather a few supplies. Q-tips, tweezers or small needle-nose pliers, a soft cleaning cloth, some paper towel, and rubbing alcohol should suffice. The first step is removing the drum unit from the printer. Follow the manufacturers instructions to avoid damaging the printer or drum unit. Exercise care when handling the printer drum. Fingerprints on the roller surfaces may affect printing and it is possible to spill toner making a huge mess. This is where the paper towel comes in. Use it to provide a clean surface to place the drum unit on and to catch any spilled toner while cleaning it.
After the drum unit is successfully removed, inspect it for any obvious damage. Sometimes the drum is connected to the toner cartridge, but it can also be a separate assembly, like with Brother toner cartridge printers. If there is any damage, stop here and replace the unit. If not, look for any large chunks of toner on the drum unit. Remove them with the tweezers or needle-nose pliers. Most manufacturers recommend against using sharp or hard objects to remove bits of toner. However, using tweezers is quite effective, so exercise caution and don't rush it. Next, dip a Q-tip in rubbing alcohol and use it to clean any oily or dirty areas visible on the drum. If the drum unit itself appears dirty, apply rubbing alcohol to the cleaning cloth and thoroughly wipe the unit down. Give the drum one more thorough inspection to ensure there are no more obstructions and that all dirty areas are clean. Then, replace the drum unit and perform a test print to see if it is working properly.
Next time a printer starts printing with blotches and streaks, don't run out and replace its drum unit quite yet. Pop it open, and take a look at the drum unit; a good cleaning may solve the problem.