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Why do I need to clean my ID card printer and readers?

Why do I need to clean my ID card printer and readers?

We appreciate that cleaning and maintenance are never much fun however if you’ve gone to the expense of investing in an ID card printer then you’ll need it to be running in tip top condition whenever you need it.


Due to the very nature of plastic cards, readers, printers and the ribbons they use there will be a naturally occurring build-up of dirt that must be cleaned away on a regular basis. 

Dust, dirt, fingerprint oils, magnetic oxides and environmental contaminants will inevitably lead to errors in the printing and processing function of your equipment such as:

  • Imperfections on your prints – blurred, smeared or speckled cards can all be a sign of residue build up or indeed dirt or grease on the surface of the card itself
  • Card readers fail to read the card
  • Extreme build ups of dirt can lead to equipment breakdown and an expensive repair bill
  • Failure to run regular cleaning cycles, as recommended by the manufacturer instructions, can invalidate your warranty


How do I clean my ID card printer or reader?

It depends on the exact model and whether or not you’re doing a ribbon change or a regular maintenance clean.  Either way it’s an extremely simple 2 minute job.

See our video below on cleaning an Evolis Primacy (more videos to be added to our YouTube channel shortly!

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What do I need to use to clean my ID card printer or reader?

Many ID card printer ribbons come complete with a cleaning roller that lives inside the printer, gathering dirt and dust and is changed at the same time as the ribbon.  Additional rollers can be purchased independently of the ribbon if required.

Cleaning cards and swabs – soaked in alcohol (Isopropyl, not the drinking kind!  Isopropyl is the most commonly used solvent cleaning fluid for electronics as it evaporates quickly and leaves nearly zero oil traces) are also available for running through on cleaning cycles or for getting into some of the harder to reach areas of the printer.  Cleaning cards are the best option for cleaning all types of card reader including payment terminals and access control points.

Finally, cans of compressed air can be used for blasting dust away.


How often do I need to clean the equipment?

Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific printer but as a general rule, the cleaning cycle should be completed on a printer every time the ribbon is changed.

In the case of card readers then at least every 1,000 swipes is a good general rule to stick too.


Is it messy?

Nope – all swabs and cards come pre-soaked in cleaning solution.  No bottles of fluid to store, or worry about knocking over or measuring out.  Simply unwrap the single use card or swab – follow the instructions and then dispose of it.


And that’s it!  Take a few minutes to run cleaning cycles and some general maintenance and you’ll save yourself time and money by avoiding printing and processing errors and repair bills!


For our full range of cleaning essentials - click here!

Nic Posted by Nic

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