Ghostbusting Your Printer

We all know it, and we’ve all seen it. Those annoying printed pieces where there is a shadow in the background that you can almost make out, and sometimes completely prevents you from being able to read any text you print out. Well that is known as ghosting or ghost printing. It’s a little feature that can often make a lot of people feel that their printer is completely broken, but that isn’t really the case. In fact most of the time when your printer starts to go ghost, it’s a mildly simple fix to make sure it isn’t. However if you don’t know how to do any of these things, it is highly suggested to take it to someone who does know at least the inner mechanics of the printer.

But before we look at some of the solutions, let’s see the types of ghosting that can occur.

Ink Ghosting

This type of ghosting is often caused by the process of having left over ink from previous printing runs sticking into the printing screens. These types tend to be one of the more common ones, as not that many people who run personal printers bother cleaning them out regularly, and only worry about it when their ink toner is low.

Emulation Ghosting

This type of ghosting is one that can be commonly found in photograph development. It is when previously run prints leave a burn of their print into the screen so when future prints go through it a very faint image is left on the paper in the background. Once again, not cleaning regularly can result in this occurring; however the burning tends to also be harder to remove, compared to just ink remaining on the screen.

Now that we know a bit more about the ghosting types we can move onto the methods you can use to clear your printer of those pesky ghosts.

Checking Your Drum

This is a common component in all printers, regardless of laser or inkjet, the difference usually comes with some of them coming with your ink cartridges and others coming with the printer. Checking out your drum can often solve issues related to ink ghosting, with the drum retaining excess ink than it should be, which then bleeds over into future images. If your drum is part of your ink cartridge then just get a new cartridge, if it is part of the printer then you can just replace the drum for about the same price as an ink cartridge; much better than buying a whole new printer.

Lowering the Humidity

This may seem like a silly process, but the simple act of keeping your house or at least where you store your printer in an environment that isn’t wet and humid can result in many printer issues fixing naturally. Also if the room is too humid you can permanently damage your personal printer if you are keeping it too long in those environments.

Check Your Paper and Settings

There are often cases where people will actually use paper that is meant for a laser printer on an inkjet and vice versa. This may seem like a small thing, and most of the time it is, but sometimes certain papers can react poorly with the different printers, resulting in ghosting type images to appear due to the way the ink is getting pressed in to the paper. Another issue that can occur is poor alignment with the paper and what you have set in the printer. It is best to check these settings through your computer, though for programmable printers, this process becomes even more crucial.

A good old Cleaning

Like mentioned previously, cleaning can solve the majority of ghosting issues, because ink does tend to get in places it isn’t supposed to, especially if you got a leaky ink toner. Just be aware that if you do discover that there was a burn or emulation occurring that caused the ghosting, that you’ll need some very strong toner cleaner product and that you should always wear clothes for those because it can be quite damaging to your body, if you think of how it removes those kinds of ink stains.

If none of these manage to work for solving your ghosting issue, there are a few other methods you can go to, including replacing your fuser assembly in the printer and if this is happening with a new printer, a few tests of printing can actually fix the problem, as the printer was adjusting to the toner running through it. If you still don’t know what to do after all that, you are best heading to your nearest printer repair to fix it up.

Now that you know get ghostbusting!


Brian Prowse is a writer and self-proclaimed tech geek. He writes for sites such as 24 7 Ink Toner. When he’s not writing or playing around with the coolest gadgets on the market, Brian enjoys traveling and graphic design.

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