Home Tips & Tricks What to Do When Your Printer Smudges Your Printouts

What to Do When Your Printer Smudges Your Printouts


Regardless of how much you rely on email and paperless digital documents, printed output is likely a part of every aspect of your business. When your office printer produces less-than-perfect pages, how you troubleshoot its smudges and smears can depend on the type of printer you use. To focus and simplify your diagnostic detective work, look for causes that relate to the way you use your hardware and the circumstances under which the problems appear.

Media-Related Problems

The paper you select for your output can have a big impact on whether your pages emerge and stay smudge free. Laser printers have trouble creating an image on papers with heavily textured surfaces or coatings that don’t match the hardware manufacturers’ specifications, including some papers intended for use on printing presses. Inkjets work best when you match the sheets you use to the output you create on them, printing photography on photo paper and looking for stock rated specifically for the dye- or pigment-based inks these machines use.


A clean printer produces better output than an ill-maintained one. Even the smoothest, most laser- or inkjet-friendly paper sheds lint, and even the cleanest office attracts its share of dust and other particulates. When these materials build up inside a printer, they can interfere with the device’s ability to lay down toner or ink. Printheads pick up an undercoating that can build up enough to make contact with inkjet paper before it dries. Dust in laser printing paths can degrade image quality by getting in the way of a proper toner bond.