Cleaning your copier is probably the last thing on your professional “to-do list” this week, but it should be on your radar.

Copiers and printers are machines, with tiny crevices, rollers, and gears that despise dust. When dust gets inside, it can cause major service problems.

Dust can also degrade image quality when copying and scanning. Dirty and smudged glass can result in speckles or streaks in copies or scans. At the very least, this makes documents difficult to read. It can even result in poor document recognition and indexing results when scanning.

If dirt is allowed to accumulate for an extended period of time, it is nearly impossible to remove without disassembling everything. Here are six simple steps to incorporate into your office cleaning routine to help keep your copier in good working order:

1 – First and foremost, turn OFF the power!

This may appear unnecessary, but it is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to anything electrical that you may be tinkering with.

2 – Wipe the machine down with a damp cloth (top to bottom)

When cleaning your copier, start with a light dusting of the entire machine. Wipe from the top down so that any dust that falls below is cleaned as you move down.

You should use a damp cloth instead of spraying cleaner on your copier because you don’t want it to get inside anything electrical. If you want to sanitize buttons, a quick swipe with alcohol or a sanitizing wipe is fine; just make sure it’s not completely wet. (Reminder: electronics do not like liquid, and there is insufficient rice to dry out the office copier.)

3 – Clean the glass plate

Cleaning the glass of your copier is especially important because dirt, dust, or even ink from a page can accumulate and have a negative impact on the quality of your copies and scans. If you see lines on copies and scans but not when you print, you know the problem is on the glass or lid.

The best thing to use is a soft cloth dampened with water or a small amount of glass cleaner sprayed directly on the cloth (not on the glass). Using a soft cloth will help to avoid even minor scratches, which can degrade the quality of your scans.

It’s also a good idea to inspect and gently wipe the upper lid of your copier or the belt of the automatic document feeder to remove any additional marks or dust that may have accumulated.

4 – Vacuum out the toner receptacle

Some toner bottles, despite their design, leak small amounts of toner when inserted and removed from the toner receptacle. It is critical to clean these spills before they begin to clog your machine.

Always inspect the toner receptacle and do a quick pass with a vacuum before replacing toner. There are many small, consumer-grade toner vacuums available, or a mini shop vac will suffice. These vacuums also include some useful attachments for getting into hard-to-reach places.

5 – Vacuum out the paper drawers and bypass tray

Your paper trays, like your toner receptacle, require vacuuming. When loading paper, dust and foreign objects can easily fall into the trays. The bypass tray is another place where dust can easily accumulate because it is frequently left open and exposed. After vacuuming out the majority of the dust, compressed air can be used to clean any hard-to-reach areas.

Inspect your paper trays on a regular basis. They may be drawers, but they are NOT intended to hold anything other than paper. Take out any paper clips you find in a paper tray!

Some trays even come out completely. Just be careful when removing them, as most trays are made of a combination of plastic, metal, and even gears, and can easily be damaged if not handled carefully.

When removing a tray, a good rule of thumb is to handle it gently. If it won’t slide back in easily, something isn’t properly aligned, and it could break if forced. Finally, keep a paper tray closed when not in use, such as your copier’s bypass tray.

6 – Clean the area where your paper is stored too!

Last but not least, keep your paper storage shelves clean by wiping them down. If you have reams of paper collecting dust, consider moving it to a different (possibly enclosed) location.

When you load your paper tray, dust on the outside of your paper is likely to fall right into it. Also, keep paper in a cool, dry place and stack it flat to prevent wrinkling. If you can’t use an entire ream, store opened packages in a separate container to keep them safe. Imperfect paper in a copier tray is a recipe for disaster.

While you may not believe it is necessary, cleaning your copier on a regular basis is a simple way to help keep your copier running at peak performance. If you do your part, your copier will thank you with fewer service calls.