How do you clean runaway toner particles?

February 26, 2009


During a laser printer toner cartridge replacement, some of the black toner particles fell on the outside of the printer and on the desktop around the printer. What’s the best way to clean the spilled toner?

A) Use hot water and cloth towels.

B) Use cold water and paper towels.

C) Use fingernail polish remover. The solvents in the polish remover will dissolve the toner particles.

D) Toner particles are notoriously permanent. There’s no practical method to remove the toner particles from whatever they have touched.

Answer: B) Use cold water and paper towels.

The toner from a laser printer is a very fine dust that has an unfortunate tendency to drift onto the outside of printers and work areas. Because the toner is designed to melt with just a little heat, the best cleaning methods use cold water. Because toner is also quite messy, it’s easiest to dispose of with paper towers.

The incorrect answers:
A) Use hot water and cloth towels.
The key to cleaning toner is to avoid heat. Once heat is applied to the toner dust, it will be much more difficult to remove.

C) Use fingernail polish remover. The solvents in the polish remover will dissolve the toner particles.
Fingernail polish remover is a common solvent, but it’s also a very harsh chemical that can cause damage or smearing of paint or graphics. As a rule, you should always avoid harsh solvents and chemicals unless there’s a very specific need.

D) Toner particles are notoriously permanent. There’s no practical method to remove the toner particles from whatever they have touched.
Toner particles can make a mess, but they aren’t permanent unless you use heat to melt them into the objects around them. Although spills onto cloth furniture or clothing can be a challenge to clean, removing the loose toner particles from printers and desktops shouldn’t be difficult.

Want to know more? Watch “Keeping Things Clean.”


Preventive maintenance of your computers is an essential component of the CompTIA A+ certification. In this module, we’ll show you how to clean both the outside and the inside of your computer, including the monitor, fan intakes, motherboard components, and connector contacts.

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Category: CompTIA A+ Pop Quizzes

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