How to Clean and Fix a Malfunctioning Biometric Scanner

Whether you use a biometric scanner in your workplace for security or attendance management, it's inevitable that you'll eventually run into a problem with the equipment. While today's scanners are hardy and reliable, like all other technology, they're not infallible. Often, if a biometric scanner isn't working and it doesn't appear to be scratched, all it needs is a simple clean. Fingers can leave smears of dirt, sweat or lotion on a scanner's surface, and over time this can affect the scanner's ability to read prints. This is especially common in workplaces like kitchens and construction sites where dirt abounds. If your scanner isn't working and you think it needs cleaning, follow these simple steps to get it sparkling again.

Wipe the Scanner Down

The first thing you should try is wiping the scanner down with a dry piece of cloth. Cloths used to clean glasses are a good option, but any soft, dry fabric should do. Simply rub any dirt off the fingerprint screen. Then clean off the rest of the unit to prevent dirt from spreading back to the capture area. This is often enough to get the unit working again, but if it doesn't, move onto the next steps. 

Try Using Sticky Tape

If the dirt doesn't come off with a cloth, one simple method you can try is to use sticky tape to remove stubborn particles. Purchase some gentle packing tape, then lay it down on your scanner (the sticky side should be on the scanner's surface) and peel it off, removing the dirt with it. Again, test if the unit is now working. If not, there's still more you can try.

Disconnect the Scanner

If dry cleaning doesn't work, you'll need to move on to wet cleaning method. Beforehand, you need to do is disconnect the scanner from its power supply to avoid any dangerous mishaps from moisture coming into contact with an electrical current. How you do this will depend on your unit. A UBS-connected scanner can simply be unplugged from a computer, while large units may need to be disconnected from the mains. Refer to your scanner's handbook for guidance.

Use a Cleaning Fluid

When used carefully, industrial cleaning fluids can usually remove even the most stubborn dirt from a biometric scanner. Acetone or ammonia-based cleaners are good choices, but remember that using these repeatedly can damage the silicone surface. Dab a small amount of fluid onto a lint-free cloth or a cotton swab, then use it to gently blot or wipe the capture screen until the surface is clean. Then, with a dry cloth, dry the scanner's surface. This is a catch-call solution, generally removing all possible dirt from the scanner.

What If Cleaning Doesn't Work?

If your unit isn't scratched and cleaning doesn't get it working again, it's likely that your scanner has a hardware fault. If so, you'll need to call out an electrical maintenance professional to diagnose and fix the problem. An electrical maintenance worker with tech experience can figure out issues with the power supply, circuit board, or anything else that's malfunctioning and repair the wiring to get your scanner working again.