How to Stop Ink From Smearing on Glossy Paper

Inkjet printers print beautifully on glossy paper. However, you may be experiencing your ink smearing on your paper. Printing problems are never a good thing, especially when ink smears or black lines appear on your design. What is the cause of this ink residue? How do you stop it? Luckily, the majority of the time it is an easy fix to stop ink from smearing.

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And the best way to get your problem fixed, is by sharing all of the causes, solutions and options you have to resolve your issue. So if, you’re trying to find out how to stop ink from smearing on glossy paper, I’m here to help. Plus, if you’re a visual learner, scroll down for a video showing 2 solutions.

Check out how to stop ink from smearing on glossy paper.

Laser printer users, such as those who use an HP laserjet printers, don’t have to worry about ink smearing on glossy paper. The reason why is because they use a toner cartridge instead of dye inks or pigment inks like inkjet users. Instead with laser printing, they may be plagued with toner cracking or flaking off.

If you have a photo printer or inkjet printer and print on glossy paper for photos or party favors, you may experience horizontal smearing or black ink smearing on your paper. Below I’ve compiled the answers to your problem and a list of solutions to help fix it.

Why is my printer smearing black ink

There are many reasons why your printer may be smearing black ink. It may be incorrect print settings, incompatible paper type, low quality ink, dirty print head or coming in contact with moisture. 

How to keep ink from smearing on glossy paper?

Now that you know reasons why your printer ink is smearing, we can address the issues until it is resolved. The main culprit to why your ink is smearing on glossy paper is usually due to incorrect printer settings.


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Adjust printer setting to stop ink from smearing

One of the things you can do to stop black ink from smearing on your glossy paper is to ensure you adjust your printer settings before printing. Printer setting defaults are usually set to plain paper or ordinary paper. Since you are printing on glossy paper and not standard paper, you have to change the paper type. When you go to print, in the printer dialog box, you’ll see a button that says preferences, settings menu or more options. The name will depend on what printer you have. I use an Epson Ecotank.

Once you click on printer preferences, and make sure you do not have the wrong paper type selected. For the best results, your paper type should be set to GLOSSY PHOTO PAPER. Set the print quality setting to higher quality. If you have an HP printer, you want to select HP PHOTO paper for your paper type, when printing on glossy paper.

Paper settings to prevent black ink from smearing on glossy paper epson ecotank

Adjusting your print settings paper type to glossy to match the paper you are printing on typically resolves the ink smearing issue for most people. If you do not see options like this, go to your printer’s website and download the printer driver for your printer model.

Prevent Inkjet Printer from smearing by choosing right paper

There are different types of paper for different types of printers. The type of paper you choose plays a major role in inkjet printing. When purchasing paper, ensure the paper you are using is intended for the type of printer you have. If you purchased paper intended for a laser printer, but you’re printing on an inkjet printer, you’re going to have smearing. You need to purchase paper specifically designed for inkjet printers. Also, ensure you are not printing on the back side of the paper. This may seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes, it could be as simple as that.

Use high quality ink

When you have a printer, ink is a recurring expense. You may be tempted to purchase off-brand ink because it is cheaper, but I advise against this. The type of ink you use is very important. If you have bad quality ink, not only can you not guarantee accuracy of colors, but you can’t guarantee it’s reaction to your paper. Low quality ink can definitely impact drying time, and a longer drying time can cause smearing. Allow the ink enough time to dry. In addition, it could simply be defective ink. In addition, check to see if you have compatible ink cartridges.


Printers need to be maintained to ensure it continues to function properly. Check to see if the inkpad or maintenance box needs to be replaced. If you’ve been experiencing ink smearing, run a print head cleaning to ensure excessive ink hasn’t collected on the printer head causing smearing.

You can also manually clean it. I’ve only had to manually clean my printers 3 times in a three year period. The fourth time I did today, which prompted this blog post and video. This video was a lifesaver when manually cleaning my Epson EcoTank, but you will need a paper towel and Windex. Now manually cleaning does seem like drastic steps, it did help me with my printer problems when all else failed.

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Keep away from moisture or seal

Finally another reason why your ink is smearing is because it is near moisture or getting wet. Keep in mind that if your printer uses dye inks that it is water-based. If it’s water based, contact with water/moisture can cause it to smear.

If the ink smearing is only happening after it comes in contact with water or moisture, after printing, consider sealing it. You could use laminate film, spray sealant or art protectant.


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Check out how to stop black ink from smearing on your glossy paper. More than 5 ways plus a step by step tutorial of manual process.

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