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Guide to Cleaning a Clogged Printhead!

How to clean a clogged printhead

We all have busy schedules, but some of us use our home printer more than others. Printing frequency plays a vital role in the functionality of your printer cartridges. Those who print a lot usually don’t experience any performance issues. For those of you who print in small quantities over an extended period of time, you may notice that printed pages may be faded, streaked, or even blank.

But you have a full set of printer cartridges, so what could be causing this problem? One of the biggest culprits of this problem is clogged printheads. A clogged printhead is caused by dried ink settling and obstructing the flow within the cartridge. This can cause poor performance and should be fixed immediately.

print head clogged

This is by no means a huge problem; you don’t need to fix the printer, or even buy new ink cartridges. In fact, the problem can often be fixed with a simple solution called printhead cleaning.

What is print head cleaning?

Printhead cleaning is exactly what it sounds like; it’s simply the process of removing excess ink from the ink cartridges or printheads to improve flow.

Printhead cleaning is often compared to car maintenance. The most common analogy is driving a car for an extended period of time without changing the oil. You can definitely get your car over 5,000 miles without an oil change, but it’s risky and the performance of the engine will suffer greatly.

The same is true for your printer, as routine maintenance is required to allow it to perform to its full potential.

There are several ways to clean the printheads. Depending on the severity of the clog, you can fix your printer with the click of a button

Automatic print head cleaning

This method is by far the easiest way to clean a clogged printhead. If your printhead is only slightly clogged, you’ll be able to get it up and printing in seconds. Let’s talk about the daily maintenance cycle of the printer.

A maintenance cycle starts each time your HP printer, or any related printer, is turned on. This process removes any dried printer ink or residue from the ink cartridge nozzles and allows unimpeded ink flow within the printer. This process quickly ejects new ink from the ink cartridges into the interior and out of the printhead to loosen any clogged or clogged nozzles.

You can do printhead cleaning from the driver’s settings menu, and sometimes even directly on the printer’s control panel.

Print head cleaning process

Most HP printers follow a very similar approach to maintenance cleaning; we’ve highlighted some of the most common steps below:

Method 1: Use HP Solution Center

  1. Open HP Solution Center from the desktop.
  2. Click the “Settings” button.
  3. Select Printer Toolbox.
  4. Click the Device Services tab and select Clean Printheads.
  5. To start the cleaning process, click on the “Clean” option and follow the steps to complete the process. Your printer will give you a test page when it’s done.

Method 2: Using the Control Panel

NOTE: This option is not available for all HP printers, but this will cover most HP OfficeJet Pro series printers.

  1. Make sure the printer has paper available in the paper tray.
  2. Press and hold the power button (this button must be held continuously while performing the steps below)
  3. Press the Cancel button twice, then press the Resume button once.
  4. Release the power button.

This will perform a maintenance clean, hopefully removing any clogged ink from the printheads. Immediately thereafter, your HP printer will automatically print a test page.

Manual printhead cleaning

It’s human nature to want to do something quick and easy, but sometimes we just need to put in a little effort to make something work again. Don’t worry; this isn’t a high-intensity or physically demanding task; it’s just a minor inconvenience. Depending on the severity of the clog, you can go through the cleaning process in a number of ways.

Option 1: Use wet wipes

This is usually the most common method we recommend to our clients. This is a simple, quick and often least invasive printhead cleaning procedure. Most printheads sit directly on the ink cartridges. Simply remove the ink cartridges from the printer. Make sure there is an area lined with paper towels in case it gets a little messy. Take a damp paper towel, gently place it over the printhead nozzles and wipe. When exposed to water, you will visibly see the ink break down and become liquid. Thicker inks will start to come off when rubbed. Once the ink cartridge is completely clear and dry, you can install it back inside the printer.

Option 2: Soak

This approach is a bit extreme and should only be used when absolutely necessary. For those cartridges with thicker clogs, you may need to soak them in a solution to loosen the ink. First, a solution of 50% water and 50% isopropyl alcohol needs to be prepared; this will create a solvent that will break down those pesky dry ink clumps. Place the ink cartridge on the paper tray with the print head facing down. Spread the solution on the paper plate until the print head is completely submerged. Note that you can only submerge the printhead in water, leaving the rest of the cartridge to dry completely. Wait approximately 24 hours before removing the kit from solution. Dab the print head with a paper towel, and when it’s completely dry, you can install it back inside the printer.

In conclusion

At the end of the day, a clogged printhead is an inconvenience that is ultimately avoidable. Even if you don’t use your printer every day, you can start the maintenance cleaning process by turning on your printer once a week so your printer cartridges can perform to their full potential. This will ensure that your printheads are never clogged in the first place. If this is too much trouble, you can wait and use our method to clean your printheads when needed.


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