This page is for regular maintenance of already-working typewriters, and is aimed at typewriter users. For restoration and repair information please proceed to the Typewriter Discord server or Repair.
A typewriter is a robust, hardy machine that's likely survived for decades -- and if yours hasn't, then you should go to Amazon and return your Royal Classic or We R Memory Keepers. However, like any machine, maintenance is an important part of owning a typewriter. Below are some best practices for keeping your machine running well, especially for users who seriously use their machines.
Prevent accumulation of dust. This is the primary concern for most typewriter users; dust can settle in the segment of a typewriter and accumulate, eventually causing the typebars to stick or return slowly. Dust can be alleviated by regular use, as well as a dust cover or typewriter desk. It is generally recommended, though not necessary, to keep your machines covered or in a cabinet when not in use.
Disengage the feed rollers.Disengaging the feed rollers on a typewriter removes them from pressing against the platen. Feed rollers that stay engaged over long periods of time may develop flat spots, and make feeding paper more difficult as a result.
Store in a temperature-controlled, humidity-controlled environment, and out of direct sunlight. Typewriters are made of metal, and later plastic, with vulcanized rubber parts. This means they are susceptible to rusting. Keep your typewriters away from warm and humid, rust-promoting environments if possible. Later machines often have plastic parts, which degrade under ultraviolet light found in sunlight; as well, rubber parts such as platens and knobs on various older machines will become increasingly hard and brittle under direct sun.
Clean your typeslugs. For writers, print quality is often an important part of using a typewriter, especially since OCR software often plays a role in modern writing workflows. Typeslugs on a typewriter may be cleaned with a toothbrush and WD-40 or isopropyl alcohol applied to the toothbrush. This will remove old ink and make print clear.
Change your ribbon regularly. For writers, print quality is often an important part of using a typewriter, especially since OCR software often plays a role in modern writing workflows. Changing your ribbon may help ensure clean, crisp type, and is generally recommended once every three months at a rate of writing 1 page per day.
Consider replacing your platen. The platen of a typewriter is the printing surface the machine relies on. Especially on older machines -- i.e., pre-1950s-- the platen is liable to become hard, leading to louder sounds and more wear on the typeslugs of your machine. Platen replacement usually costs around $100 USD from jjshort.com and will last many decades. It is recommended only if you plan to write a novel on your machine; otherwise, the costs tend to outweigh the benefits of platen replacement.
Most of these best practices will only show results in the very long run -- however, continued care for your machine will keep it working well into the next century. Happy writing!