How to Dissolve Hardened Toner on a Copier

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Laser printer toner used to print text and images is a powder mixture of ingredients that includes pigment, powder, iron oxide and plastic. Toner adheres permanently to paper after the copier’s fuser heats it. Since toner in its nonfused form often spills or leaks out of toner cartridges onto surfaces around and on a copier, the toner can fuse to these surfaces if accidentally heated. Typically, hardened toner on a copier is the result of heat generated by the copier warming insufficiently or unclean copier surfaces melting and fusing toner. As the toner cools, the plastic hardens.

Things You'll Need

  • Lint-free microfiber cloths
  • Solvent
  • Cotton swabs
  • Plastic scraper
  • Water
  • Mild detergent

Wipe the area where the hardened toner stains your copier with a dry, lint-free microfiber cloth to remove loose toner particles.

Dip a cotton swab in a solvent such as rubbing alcohol, acetone-based nail polish remover or vinegar. Lift the swab from the solvent bottle and shake it slightly over the mouth of the bottle so that it doesn't drip.

Press the wet cotton swab tip to the hardened toner--without touching the clean, unstained surrounding plastic--and hold it in place for 30 seconds.

Rub the swab tip across the toner to see if any toner particles dislodge from the surface and transfer to the cotton. If no toner flakes transfer, repeat steps 2 and 3 with a fresh cotton swab and solvent, then rub again. Continue rubbing with fresh swabs and toner as needed until the toner dissolves completely and transfers from the copier surface.

Wash the surface of the copier with two to three drops of mild detergent on a cloth dampened with cool water to remove the solvent residues. Wipe the surface with a nonsoapy, damp cloth, and then wipe thoroughly dry.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the solvent doesn’t completely remove the toner, wait for the solvent to dry and then scrape the bulk of the toner from the surface carefully with a plastic or razor blade scraper.
  • Dissolve and remove any toner hardened film or specks that remain after scraping with solvent.
  • To prevent future hardened toner stains, wipe your copier at the end of each day with a dry cloth to remove loose toner particles.
  • Don't wipe your copier clean until after you've dissolved and removed the toner completely from it. Hot water can melt the plastic in the toner, further strengthening the bonds between it and the copier surface.
  • Always wear gloves when dissolving toner. Ventilate the room that you’re working in by opening windows or turning on fans.
  • Never mix solvents. Always let one solvent dry completely before attempting to dissolve the toner with another. Additionally, test your solvents on an inconspicuous area on the copier’s plastic surface to make certain that brief accidental contact between a drop of the solvent and the plastic won’t damage it.
  • Scraping away hardened toner with a razor blade scraper can damage the copier surface.
  • As toner fuses to surfaces, you may need to dissolve a thin surface layer of plastic on the copier to remove the toner completely.

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