How to Clean Your Printer Heads

by Guest Author on October 25, 2010

in Articles, Guest Posts, Guides/How-To

The print head for an inkjet printer is where the ink is sucked out of the cartridge and sprayed onto your paper through very small nozzles. When your print jobs start looking fuzzy, blurred, or streaked, those nozzles on your print head are either clogged or partially clogged. This happens because, over time, ink mixes with dust from paper and solidifies on your print head, resulting in blockages and reduced print quality.

Fortunately, when this happens there are things that you can do that can help restore your printer’s output to its original quality. You don’t need to put up with fuzzy, streaky, or erratic print jobs any more. Below you will find some simple steps that will show you how to clean your printer heads.

  1. Find your printer in Windows. Click the Devices and Printers option from your Windows start menu or click your Windows 7 start button and then type “Printers” in the Windows 7 search field. When the “Devices and Printers” window opens, look at the “Printers and Faxes” section (usually the second section from the top of the window) and find your printer.
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  2. Find your printer driver utility. Right click on your printer’s icon and then choose the “Properties” option from the context menu. What you see next will differ depending on the printer you have, but somewhere you should have a tab that says “Maintenance”‚ “Tools” or something similar. Here you should see a “Cleaning” option.
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  3. Click the “Cleaning” icon and your printer will start a routine that is designed to clear the nozzles on your print head. Your printer will start moving its print head and will sometimes even print some output on paper. When it is complete, print a test page to see if your print quality has improved.
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  4. Some printers have a “Deep Cleaning” option that will go to additional lengths to clear your nozzles in case the regular cleaning doesn’t work. Because cleaning your print heads expends ink, you will want to start with the standard cleaning to minimize your expense. If your print quality remains poor, go ahead and run the “Deep Cleaning” option if you have one available. Otherwise, you may want to run the standard cleaning process again and then print another test page.
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  5. If your print quality is still bad, look at your printer’s manufacturer Web page to see if your printer has its print head built into the ink cartridge or if the print head is a separate part of the printer. If the print head is part of the ink cartridge, you may want to install a new one as a simple remedy to your print quality problem.
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  6. Try manually cleaning your print head. You can do this by removing your cartridge and placing a few drops of isopropyl alcohol in the bottom of the receptacle. Replace your cartridge and then run the cleaning routine again. The alcohol works to dissolve the blockages on the print head nozzles in the event of stubborn problems.
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  7. Are you really having print head issues? After you have worked on cleaning your print head nozzles and still have print quality issues, consider some other factors that may affect your printing. First, try better quality paper. Low quality paper often wicks out the ink, making it appear fuzzy. Some paper may be too hard and fail to absorb the ink, allowing it to smear.
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  8. If you are using re-filled or third party ink cartridges, you may be getting poor quality ink. Try an ink cartridge from your printer’s manufacturer to see if it resolves your print quality problem.
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  9. If you are still having problems with print quality, consider taking your printer for service. If your printer is old, your printer head could be worn out. For very inexpensive printers, you may find that replacing the printer may be cheaper than having the print head replaced, so be sure to get an estimate before authorizing any work.

Now that you know how to clean your printer heads and what to do if your efforts are unsuccessful, try these steps on your printer. One way to help prevent future problems is to print at least one color and one black and white print job each week. Print heads tend to clog more when they are used less, so keeping your printer active may help you minimize future printing problems.

Guest post by: James Adams writes reviews of printer supplies such as LaserJet cartridges. He is also a regular contributor of guest posts around the web.

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Comments & Leave a Comment

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Ron October 26, 2010 at 04:13

Good basic tips here buddy. Thanks for reminding us. Also, nice words about seldom usage of the printer. It can really become a big cause of printer problem, not on the printer heads alone, but for the whole printer as well.
Ron recently posted… Free Printable Pumpkin Carving Stencils – JackOLantern Templates

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Karen October 27, 2010 at 12:41

Nice tips, I’ve been using my Epson R200 for a while now and after following your routine, it certainly helped, but unfortunately I think my printer is on it’s last legs, so it may be time for an upgrade ;)
Karen recently posted… HOW TO: Find Out Who Has Added You To Their Twitter List

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Infoomatic October 29, 2010 at 04:44

In some rare case, you may also need to put it in harm water for about 2 minutes and repeat. It happens with my Canon ip2770

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tim Hanks October 31, 2010 at 22:07

Nice article. Thanks for sharing.
Really very informative.

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Sourish November 11, 2010 at 07:59

i ddnt use my inkjet printer for a month or so , and the print head was clogged due to dried ink …. this inkjets suck …. never buy one for home use …. its expensive ….
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Tamilnadu temple tour packages December 2, 2010 at 14:26

Useful information , great post . Thanks for sharing !!

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Sight Seeing in Kanyakumari February 2, 2011 at 14:26

If you are using re-filled or third party ink cartridges, you may be getting poor quality ink.

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j mc donald February 24, 2011 at 21:57

Great Article.
I would like to add a few points. Print Heads installed in a printer are usually associated with Epson printers. Most manufacturers have he printhead on the cartridge example HP, Dell etc. With these printers you don’t have to worry about the print head. We tell our customers to carry spare cartridges for the epson to enable hot swapping. An epson print head begins to dry out as soon as the empty cartridge is removed. You will have no problems if you replace the cartridge with one you have on standby. Secondly do not let an epson printer go unused print a page every few days just to keep the heads moist.

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Witty Artist May 27, 2011 at 12:02

Great tips, I didn’t know some of them. Thanks for sharing. I’ll keep that in mind next time I have problems with cleaning the printer heads.

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Sonny August 25, 2011 at 07:14

Sometimes when you do all means of cleaning your printer head still it won’t work. Sometimes I ran out of patience. Then, hello printer service. But thanks for this info, maybe I should try this one.
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vexengen August 26, 2011 at 14:44

I done with those small expensive cartridge ink. I have found much cheaper and it doesn’t do bad with my printer. Is the continuous ink.
vexengen recently posted… Learning How to Budget

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Megan September 6, 2011 at 14:08

Great tips.. I’m so glad I visited your site..

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Melodie September 24, 2011 at 12:21

i am so glad that i found this blog it’s really big help for me in finishing my work.

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madara September 24, 2011 at 13:03

To clean my printer heads.. I need a clean cloth to wipe.. GREAT! | :P

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optimusprime0506 October 3, 2011 at 11:45

Nice for your tips how to clean the printer..Now it’s easy to clean and it fast to clean because of your tips..Thanks! | :P

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michael October 17, 2011 at 00:51

You will have no problems if you replace the cartridge with one you have on standby. Secondly do not let an epson printer go unused print a page every few days just to keep the heads moist.

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Analouna October 17, 2011 at 08:49

I have canon printer, then its work good but i have only black color.

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Harieth October 20, 2011 at 12:05

arrhh i’m having a hard time cleaning mine! i always end up calling a technician to do it…lol
Harieth recently posted… Black mold health risks you might not know

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colbie5 October 22, 2011 at 07:18

Great tips, thanks for sharing this blog. Keep it up! I might share this blog to my fellow bloggers.

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pippa123 October 25, 2011 at 19:07

For very inexpensive printers, you may find that replacing the printer may be cheaper than having the print head replaced, so be sure to get an estimate before authorizing any work.

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Lavinia October 26, 2011 at 17:46

Thanks for the info! I know little about the inside of the printer and how to clean it, but thanks to you I got it cleaned.
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jasmin November 3, 2011 at 21:09

The alcohol works to dissolve the blockages on the print head nozzles in the event of stubborn problems.
jasmin recently posted… Home Remedies For Yeast Infection

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hunterX0506 November 6, 2011 at 01:41

Sometimes when you do all means of cleaning your printer head still it won’t work. Sometimes I ran out of patience. | :P
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Samantha December 5, 2011 at 16:42

I also have a cannon printer, but i haven’t got a problem with it. so far so good, but i think i should clean it unless i don’t have a problem.
Samantha recently posted… Learn to Play Piano

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