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printer tune-up and cleanup tips
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Kim's column

Your printer needs a cleanup – Follow this 3-step checklist

It’s funny how long we’ll settle with outdated tech that barely does the job.

Maybe you’re still working on an old laptop that drives you up the wall daily. I make it simple to pick the best new laptop. Tap or click to take a quick quiz and get my handpicked recommendations based on your needs.

With some devices, it’s not so obvious when we need a newer model. Your home’s router, for instance, might work OK — but if it’s several years old, your network security is at risk and it’s also probably slowing down your internet speeds. Tap or click for guidance in choosing the right router for your home.

Then there’s the trusty printer you bought for your home office. It’s time to give it a little maintenance, so it works better and lasts longer. By the way, your printer has its own email address. Tap or click to find how you can use it to print from your phone or tablet.

1. Check the nozzle

You can run a nozzle check from your computer to see if the print heads are clogged. Instructions vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Check your user manual or the manufacturer’s website for specific instructions. Now, this step will use some of your valuable ink.

Don’t have the manual anymore? This handy site holds user manuals for hundreds of thousands of products.

Once you start the nozzle check, your printer will spit out a test page. If the test page has solid print lines, your nozzle is clean. If the print lines are broken up, your print head needs cleaning. Keep reading for the steps to take.

Pro tip: Print a page that uses every color at least once a month to keep your printer happy.

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If your nozzle check comes back poorly, it’s time to clean your print heads. Dust and ink can clog up the heads. Cleaning them will extend your printer’s life and make your prints look much nicer.

Print heads can be part of the printer cartridge or built into the printer, depending on your model. Again, instructions vary from printer to printer, so check with your manufacturer for specific instructions.

If your printer has multiple options, start with the regular cleaning, then move up to the deep clean if necessary.

Pro tip: Sometimes, neglected print heads need even more TLC. Your manual may instruct you to clean them physically if the automated processes can’t do the job.

MORE CLEANING KNOW-HOW: The best way to clean all the dirt and grime off your tech

2. Dust all the nooks and crannies

Raise your hand if your printer is covered in dust. OK, clean it off.

Dusting the inside and outside of your printer will keep dust, dirt, and grime from building up.

This means it will run more smoothly — and it will last longer. You don’t want to be too rough with the interior. Use a soft, lint-free cloth. A Q-tip works well for hard-to-reach spots, but don’t stick it in any ports or you might leave behind fuzz.

Pro tip: Compressed air is helpful to give your printer a good dusting, too. Try an electronics duster if you don’t like how fast they run out of juice. Tap or click for a review of one we like at Komando HQ.

3. Update your software and drivers

Every device we own requires updates to keep them running smoothly and protected against security vulnerabilities.

The same goes for your printer. Regularly check your manufacturer’s website for software updates for your printer. You won’t believe all the ways hackers find to break into our systems. Set a reminder to do this every three months.

Bonus: Is your printer struggling? Upgrade to the one I use

It’s so handy to print anything you need from home. The downside? Expensive ink cartridges — unless you purchase an Epson EcoTank printer. They come with a ridiculous amount of ink right in the box. There’s enough to print a whopping 6,000 color pages!

Check out Epson EcoTank printers at a Best Buy, OfficeMax or Office Depot near you, or shop online at Epson.com/EcoTankKim.

Keep your tech-know going

My popular podcast is called “Kim Komando Today.” It’s a solid 30 minutes of tech news, tips, and callers with tech questions like you from all over the country. Search for it wherever you get your podcasts. For your convenience, hit the link below for a recent episode.

PODCAST PICK: Ford helps police, another Prime Day, John McAfee’s crazy crimes

Get ready for electric police chases, thanks to Ford’s police partnership. I’ve got all the details, plus the inside scoop on leaked Amazon documents. Looks like we’re getting another Prime Day. Also, you can now wear smart scarves to keep cool. My advice: Wear one while you watch Netflix’s true crime story on John McAfee. It’s a wild ride.

Check out my podcast “Kim Komando Today” on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player.

Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando.”

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.

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