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7 Tips for Paper Stuck in Your Printer

paper stuck in printer

On an average week a printer repair technician will remove between 15-20 paper jams. It’s funny to think about but I’ve removed well over 20,000 paper jams in my career. I’ve learned a few things about paper jams along the way.

Whether it’s an inkjet or laser printer paper jams can be difficult to remove. When paper gets stuck in a printer there are a couple things to avoid and some tips to help remove paper stuck in a printer.

  1. Be gentile
  2. Unplug power from your printer
  3. Use a Flashlight to assess the situation
  4. Don’t use a nail file, letter opener, screwdriver, etc
  5. Use a thicker sheet of paper or folded paper as a tool
  6. Pull jammed paper in different directions to see which has the least resistance
  7. Keep all the pieces of paper you pulled out of a printer

Be Gentile

No doubt paper jams are a frustrating experience. But I’m always surprised how much a difference being gentile makes removing paper jams.

Paper is easy to tear. Plastic parts are easy to break. Being gentile avoids making a bad situation worse.

Of course paper won’t fall out of a printer on its own so you do need to tug some. On the other hand you shouldn’t have to pull to the point you hear grinding gears or plastic cracking.

Stuck paper is prone to tearing. So pulling hard enough to tear paper is unavoidable at times.

If the stuck paper tears as you open a door don’t worry about. Gently opening doors or removing trays will prevent parts from breaking.

You never know where the paper is stuck.

Remove Power to Your Printer

Turning off or unplugging your printer does several things. First, it removes power to any motors. This prevents them from being damaged and makes things easier to move.

For example, a carriage unit in an inkjet printer or a fuser in a laser printer will move easier when the printer has no power. But be gentile.

I’ve seen blown fuses in motor driver boards due to pulling paper out or moving a carriage unit too fast. Even though they have no power moving the motor too fast creates current.

Second, turning off a printer resets the memory. Printers use software to operate and it’s possible to glitch.

If you can’t find any paper yet your printer still insists there’s a jam. You’re not crazy, the software does get stuck too. A reboot resets the memory in the printer.

Use a Flashlight

I’ve found assessing the situation is the best approach to any paper jam. Using a flashlight to do this is essential.

Access points, obstructions, or potential breaking points are easy to miss in the dark. A flashlight has allowed me to see the paper caught on a paper sensor I might have missed. They are easy to break when pulling out paper jams.

I’ve spotted places paper starting tearing. Which has an impact on how to move the paper out of a printer. You want to avoid making it worse if you can.

Maybe there’s another way to pull out the jammed paper. Or a way to open or separate a guide to give you more access to the stuck paper.

In order to determine the best way to get stuck paper out, you’ll need a flashlight to illuminate every possibility.

Don’t Use a Metal Tools

Metal tools such as letter openers, nail files, or screwdrivers are common items found near printers. Under no circumstance should metal tools be used to fish out paper jams.

Components inside laser printers are easy to scratch. Ball point pens can easily damage them. Inkjet printers also have many fragile parts such as encoder strips, belts, paper guides, and print heads easily damaged by metal items.

Metal tools are suitable for disassembling a printer if you’re technically inclined to do so. But there are better tools for unsticking paper jams since the insides of printers are frail places.

Best Tools for Removing Paper Jams

In my experience thicker paper makes the best tool for fishing out paper jams. You can fold a regular sheet a couple times to make it sturdier. Or use a heavier sheet of paper to push out a jam.

In a few cases where I couldn’t reach the paper jam. I used a heavier sheet of paper to push the jammed paper to a point I could reach it. This doesn’t work with every paper jam though.

If the paper is jammed to the point you have to use something more rigid than paper. Then wood or flexible plastic tools are much better than metal tools.

Popsicle sticks, plastic rulers, back scratchers, or a dull pencil are far less likely to damage a printer than metal. I’ve had to repair many printers due to the tip of a pen or a letter opener.

The right tools can help remove many paper jams but some just can’t be fished out. In those cases the printer needs disassembled. Call a technician if you don’t feeel comfertable disassembling your printer.

Pull Paper at Different Angles

This tip for removing paper jams goes hand in hand with being gentile. But tugging at a paper jam from every possible direction will show you the best way to remove it.

A paper jam may seem immobile pulling from one direction. Then you’ll find it easily moves when tugged another way.

How some paper jams are there may only be one direction to pull. But there should be some wiggle room. Finding the path of least resistance prevents broken parts or pieces of paper from tearing off.

You should focus more on not breaking anything than tearing paper. Sometimes it’s unavoidable to tear paper stuck inside a printer.

How to Make Sure All The Paper is Out

Torn paper just happens with certain paper jams. In those cases I’ve found it’s always a good idea to keep every piece of paper I pull out. Then compare all the pieces with a new sheet of paper to make sure I got everything.

A leftover piece of paper is a common cause of paper jams. It doesn’t take a big piece to block paper from feeding.

Smaller printers have less hiding places compared to a large copier. But use a flashlight, open every door, and look from different angles to make sure you got everything. Duplex paper paths are common places that are easy to overlook.



The 7 tips for removing stuck paper in any inkjet or laser printer are:

  1. Be gentile
  2. Unplug power from your printer
  3. Use a Flashlight to assess the situation
  4. Don’t use a nail file, letter opener, screwdriver, etc
  5. Use plastic tools or a thicker sheet of paper as a tool
  6. Pull jammed paper in different directions to see which has the least resistance
  7. Keep all the pieces of paper you pulled out of a printer

These are the tips I’ve learned from removing paper stuck in printers.


How do I clear a paper jam?

Open every door or access point of your printer. Use a flashlight to assess the situation. Gently pull the jammed paper from different directions to find a path of least resistance. Verify all the jammed paper is removed. Close everything back up and reboot printer if necessary.

Why is paper getting stuck in my printer?

Common causes for paper getting stuck is an obstruction or dirty paper feed rollers.

How do I remove a stuck paper from my HP printer?

Do not use any metal tools to remove stuck paper. Use a folded sheet of paper, flexible plastic, or

copier guy

The Copier Guy, aka Dave. I’ve worked on scanners, printers, copiers, and faxes since 1994. When I’m not fixing them I’m writing about them. Although, I’m probably better at fixing them. I’ve worked with every major brand. As well as several types of processes. If it uses paper I’ve probably worked on one.

paper stuck in printer