Cleaning Printheads

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Cleaning Printheads
Cleaning Printheads

A print head can become clogged if a printer has not been used for a while or if a print cartridge has been empty for a while or has been stored for a long time. Blockages in printheads can cause print quality problems. This article will show you how to clean printheads.


Method 1 of 5: Self-cleaning tool for Windows XP/Vista users

Clean Print Heads Step 1

Step 1. Open the control panel and choose 'printers'

Clean Print Heads Step 2

Step 2. Select the printer to be cleaned and click with the right mouse button

Choose "Properties" from the drop-down menu.

Clean Print Heads Step 3

Step #3. Choose the cleaning tab

Different printers may use different names such as services, cleaning, or maintenance.

Clean Print Heads Step 4

Step 4. If applicable to your printer, select the nozzles to be cleaned

Run the printer's cleaning program.

Clean Print Heads Step 5

Step 5. Print a test page and view the results

If necessary, repeat the cleaning two or three more times.

Method 2 of 5: Self-cleaning tool for Mac users

Clean Print Heads Step 6

Step 1. Click on 'System Preferences' and select 'Open Printer and Fax'

Clean Print Heads Step 7

Step 2. Select the printer to be cleaned and open 'Open print queue' or 'Print queue'

Clean Print Heads Step 8

Step 3. Click on the Utility icon for the printer and choose 'maintenance'

Choose 'clean' from the pop-up menu and click 'OK'. You may still need to choose the reservoir you want to clean.

Clean Print Heads Step 9

Step 4. Run the printhead cleaner and print a test page

If necessary, repeat the cleaning two or three more times.

Method 3 of 5: Manual cleaning

Clean Print Heads Step 10

Step 1. Look in the manual of your printer for the location of the print head

Read the instructions below if the head is in the printer and not part of individual ink cartridges.

Clean Print Heads Step 11

Step 2. Remove the ink cartridges and dab hot water or rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab

Clean Print Heads Step 12

Step 3. Swipe the swab over the print head to loosen dried ink

You can also use a pipette and drop 7 to 10 drops of rubbing alcohol into the ink container if the print head is deep in the printer.

Clean Print Heads Step 13

Step 4. Run the printer cleaning program twice and leave the printer overnight

Repeat the self-cleaning program the next day.

Method 4 of 5: Printhead cartridge

Clean Print Heads Step 14

Step 1. With the print head inside the cartridge, soak the ink cartridge in a bowl of hot water overnight

Clean Print Heads Step 15

Step 2. Remove the cartridge from the water and dry it thoroughly with a paper towel

Put it back in the printer and run the cleaning program. Repeat this one more time if it still doesn't work.

Clean Print Heads Step 16

Step 3. If soaking in hot water didn't work, place the cartridge in a bowl of rubbing alcohol and soak overnight

Clean Print Heads Step 17

Step 4. Take out the cartridge and wipe with a damp cloth before drying

Try the self-cleaning program again. If it still doesn't work, you probably need a new cartridge.

Method 5 of 5: The vacuuming method

Clean Print Heads Step 18

Step 1. Gently wipe the cartridge with a soft cloth

Don't push too hard or you may damage the cartridge

Clean Print Heads Step 19

Clean Print Heads Step 22

Step 2. Use a vacuum cleaner hose to clean the cartridge nozzle for no more than a few seconds at a time

If possible, place the vacuum cleaner nozzle for curtains on the vacuum cleaner.

Clean Print Heads Step 23

Step 3. Repeat if necessary

If the print cartridge is clean, ink is visible. If it is a multi-color cartridge, black ink will show if all nozzles are clean.

Clean Print Heads Step 24

Step 4. Wipe off the ink residue with a soft cloth

Do not use a hard cloth, such as a paper towel.

Clean Print Heads Step 25

Step 5. Reset and print a test page


Print a page every two weeks when the printer is not in use so that the printheads do not become clogged


  • Be careful when cleaning with rubbing alcohol. Some printers have rubber gaskets, which can dry out and break if you use this method.
  • Do not turn off, restart, or release print jobs while the printer is cleaning. This may damage the printer.
  • Do not touch the print head or cartridge head, as this may damage the cartridge or printer.

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