How to Clean a Thermal Printer

By Chris Hoke

A thermal printer is a type of printer that creates markings on a label or piece of paper by melting a section of thermal wax ribbon onto it. Thermal printers are typically used to print out barcode tags and labels. Most manufacturers recommend that the print head of the thermal printer be cleaned every time the ribbon is changed. Regular cleanings will prevent you from having to replace the thermal print head often, which is beneficial because of the thermal print head being the most expensive replacement part on a thermal printer.

Things You'll Need

  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Lint-free rag

Step 1

Turn the printer off.

Step 2

Open the thermal printer by lifting up the print head access door. This is a panel that should swing open to reveal the print head, ribbon, paper spool and other internal components of the thermal printer.

Step 3

Push the lever that releases the print head, allowing the ribbon to be removed easily. Pull the ribbon aside so you can see the print head.

Step 4

Moisten the lint-free rag with the isopropyl alcohol.

Step 5

Wipe the moistened portion of the rag across the thermal print head several times with a small amount of pressure. This will remove carbon buildup and ribbon dust that may collect over time. Allow a few minutes for the print head to dry.

Step 6

Replace the ribbon cable on the print head. Press the print head unit back in place so the print head lever returns to its original position.

Step 7

Close the print head access door and power on the thermal printer. Print a label or barcode tag to test the thermal printer.