How to Fix Printer Leaving Black Streaks

When printing, encountering black lines on the printed page can be frustrating. You may wonder why your printer leaving black streaks. It is very common and can usually be solved by some troubleshooting. In this blog, we will explore the reasons why the printer leaves black streaks and provide effective solutions.

I. Common Causes of Printer Leaving Black Streaks

It mainly involves the cartridge quality, the drum or roller dirt accumulation, paper quality and so on. 

Cartridge Leakage

Toner cartridges sometimes leak, causing black streaks to appear. This is very common for printers that use ink and toner cartridges.

Ink Cartridge Expired

Over time, toner or ink cartridges may expire, causing print quality issues. Expiration may cause irregular ink flow or toner clumping, resulting in streaks or lines on printed pages.

Ink Cartridge Is Low or Empty

When the ink cartridges are low on toner or ink, the print quality will decrease. Your printer may produce lines due to insufficient toner or ink distribution.

Cartridge Clogged

For inkjet printers that use ink cartridges, it is likely that the print head of the black ink cartridge is clogged.

Drum or Roller Contamination

When the drum or roller comes into contact with toner residue, black smears may appear on the printed page. Depending on your printer brand, you may need to replace the drum assembly or toner cartridge separately.

Paper Is Damp or Poor Quality

Poor-quality or damp paper can cause ink or toner to spread, causing streaks.

Fuser Roller Failure (Rare)

The fuser roller, located inside the printer, rarely fails, but when it does, it can cause black streaks.

After understanding these reasons, you can perform a targeted inspection of the printer to identify potential problems and take appropriate measures to resolve them.

II. Step by Step Fix for Printer Leaving Black Streaks

To troubleshoot black streaks on your printer, consider the following. The steps below can apply to any printer brand such as HP, Brother, Dell, Epson, Kyocera, Lexmark.

How to Fix Printer Leaving Black Streaks

1. Check Your Cartridge Toner/Ink Levels

Access the printer's screen or software to check the levels of ink or toner in the cartridges. If it shows low, it needs to be replaced or refilled.

2. Check for Cartridge Leaks

Remove the cartridges and turn them over several times to check for leaks or defects until all cartridges have been inspected. Check for toner or ink smudges, especially around cartridge openings or seams.

If you find a small leak, use a paper towel to gently wipe up the spilled toner or ink. Before reinserting the ink cartridges, make sure the area is clean. For more severe damage, consider replacing the affected cartridge. This prevents further banding and ensures print quality.

3. Use Printer Function to Fix

Automatic Cleaning:

For inkjet printers, access the printer's maintenance features through the printer's control panel. Choose “Settings” in the printer menu bar, select “Printer Maintenance” or “Printer Check”, and then select “Printer Maintenance” or the “Automatic Printhead Cleaning” function. Repeat this operation several times to clear the print head blockage.

Manual Cleaning:

If automatic cleaning doesn't resolve the problem, continue with manual cleaning. Consult your printer's manual to remove and clean the printhead. Then, soak the printhead in warm water and wipe it gently with a lint-free cloth to help clear stubborn clogs. Check the blog to know more: How to Clean HP Printer Heads.

4. Inspect Your Drum and Transfer Rollers

Use the printer manual to locate the drum and transfer roller inside the printer, and check the drum assembly and rollers for black stains or toner residue. Try to look for any markings that might prevent proper printing jobs.

For laser printers with a toner cartridge and drum unit combination (such as HP or Canon), replacing the affected toner cartridge may solve the problem. E.g., HP 206X, HP 210A, Canon 067, Canon 069 and Dell 593-BBBJ. For printers with a separate drum unit (such as Brother), only the drum needs to be replaced. E.g., Brother TN730, Brother TN760, and Brother TN227.

5. Check the Paper Quality

Look at the paper you are using and check for any signs of moisture, wrinkling or low absorbency. This may cause ink or toner to spread during the printing process. Try switching to a higher quality paper recommended by the printer manufacturer.

6. Reset Your Printer

Turn off your printer and unplug it. After 5-6 minutes, reconnect the power and turn the printer back on. This simple reset can sometimes clear the malfunction.

7. Seek Professional Support

If the issue persists after the above steps, it’s time to contact a professional printer repair service. They have the expertise and tools to diagnose and resolve more complex issues with printer internal components such as fuser unit failure.

III. How to Prevent Black Streaks on Your Printer?

Regular Cleaning

Many printers have a periodic cleaning function, select the relevant printer maintenance settings to perform this operation. This removes any dust, toner or debris that may have accumulated over time.

Regular Printer Maintenance

It is recommended to check the cartridges, printheads and internal components monthly for any leaks and dust accumulation.

Use Recommended Paper Types

It's best to use paper recommended by the printer manufacturer. Also, every time you print, make sure the paper you are using is dry, smooth, and high quality.

Handle Cartridges Carefully

When replacing ink or toner cartridges, avoid shaking them violently or touching sensitive parts such as photoreceptor drums. 

Place the Printer Properly

The printer should be placed in an environment with stable temperature and humidity, away from high heat or humidity. Clean the area around your printer regularly, and consider using a cover when not in use.


Following the troubleshooting steps can help you resolve printer leaving black streaks. Your printer will return to optimal performance and produce high-quality prints again. At the same time, regular printer maintenance and use can significantly reduce the occurrence of such problems.

Trouble shooting

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