Why is Cartridge Toner Leaking/Streaking, and How Can We Fix it?

A leaking printer cartridge is an issue faced by many laser printer users. The streaking/leaking toner can cause a powdery mess inside the printer, streaked printouts, or stained pieces of clothing. A streaking or leaking toner can possibly ruin your day. Your toner cartridge needs to be fixed or replaced if it is leaking or has leaked inside the printer. Before going deep into the details of how to fix the leaking cartridge toner, it is important to get an understanding of its leakage first.

Damage toner cartridges can cause leakage problems

Dozens of moving parts are present in a toner cartridge. For efficient performance of toner cartridge, it is essential that all these small components must work correctly. If any parts are not working accurately, it can cause toner leakage inside the printer device. Accidental falls can also cause toner cartridge damage, and the damaged cartridge produces streaked prints or can spill out the toner. If any part of the toner cartridge or its photoconductor is visibly damaged, the cartridge needs replacement.

Associated leakage problems with refilled toner cartridges

Some people tend to refill toner cartridges at the local office supply store or at home. Refilling the toner or ink cartridges is not a good idea as refilled toner cartridges don’t fit properly into the laser printer and can leak easily. During refilling, there are chances that you may end up damaging the photoconductor, blade, fuser, or other components. You can also mess up your clothes or your living area carpet. There are other better ways to save money on replacement cartridges. Instead, you can buy compatible toner cartridges for your HP, Brother, or Samsung laser printer.

Faulty drum unit

The leakage of toner inside the printer or streaked printouts may be due to a defective drum unit, and it is the main culprit of leakage. The drum unit can cause malfunctioning after passing its useful life. Depending on whether the printer has an integrated or a separate drum unit, you will require a replacement. If you see a toner leakage in a recently installed toner cartridge, then a separate drum unit is likely to be the culprit of this problem. It may be an indication that your drum unit needs replacement. Other symptoms of drum unit failure may include smears or lines of toner across the printouts or dots that appear down the page evenly.

Damaged recovery blade

Recovery blades are thin made up of plastic and direct residual toner onto the rollers. The damage recovery blade will be the reason for random dots all over your prints. This is often called a “flicking toner.” Damaged recovery blade results in toner accumulation at the top of the blade resulting in cartridge toner leakage. So, you have to repair or replace the recovery blade to fix the problem.

Toner spill cleaning

  1. Cool the printer for at least an hour after unplugging the printer from the power socket. Keep in mind there are heated components inside the laser printers.
  2. Use a scraper to scoop out maximum toner.
  3. To wipe toner spill, use a dry lint-free cloth. Only use a damp cloth for cleaning the outer surface of the printer.
  4. Toner spillage on the clothes or carpet can be dabbed with a slightly damp paper towel.
  5. Don’t use a standard vacuum cleaner to remove the stain swiftly. Firstly, excess pressure can damage the LaserJet, and secondly, powdered toner conducts electricity and can damage your vacuum cleaner.

How to clean a leakage cartridge

  1. Put a piece of paper towel or cloth below the printer’s cover panel to gather the loose toner.
  2. Remove the leaky cartridge by opening the front cover of the printer.
  3. Try to hold the leaky toner at a certain level to prevent further spillage.
  4. Wipe the cartridge with a dry cloth and remove the loose toner particles. Prevent wetting of cartridge as it will damage the components of your printer.
  5. In the end, reinstall the cartridge.

Toss the damaged cartridge into the bin.


Loose toner particles can damage your printer in many ways. So, it is necessary to remove the excess toner to fix the leakage issue is a part of routine maintenance. Sometimes, you have to replace other components as described above to fix tone leakage.

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