If you have used the printer for a plethora of printouts, the common issue that your printer can run in is quality printing issues.
Your printer can start throwing fading prints, streaking, or even missing text. Further, you may see dirty printouts if your printer runs into print head-related issues.
To solve such issues, you have to clean the print heads. This can improve the efficiency of the print heads, and they will last longer.
Further, you can save money by cleaning the print heads yourself at home.
Cleaning print heads is easy, and you don’t need to be an expert to clean and make the print heads work again.
How to Know That Your Printer Needs A Printhead Cleaning?
There are many ways to identify that your printer requires print head cleaning, and here we will be listing some of the most common ways to check.
First of all, if your printer is printing blank pages, but the ink indicator is showing enough ink levels, the issue will most likely lie in your printer’s print heads.
Further, if you don’t use the printer often, then it is also possible that your ink cartridges may have dried out.
Dried ink will clog the print heads and will not let the ink transfer on the paper. You will have to clean the print head to fix such issues.
Another way to identify the issue is that if your printer throws faded printouts and does not deliver quality printouts or even sees blurred printouts, you have to clean the print heads.
You have to check the images and check if there is any missing colour.
If any missing colour exists, then the issue can also occur because the CMYK cartridge is not pulling out all the remaining dot work.
A printer usually layers small dots in different formations to complete the text and images that we see on the printouts.
There are 4 print head nozzles in a standard printer that contains cyan, magenta, yellow, and black colour cartridges, and if any one of them gets blocked, the whole printout will be affected.
So, you have to clean all the printheads to improve the print quality.
How to Perform A Nozzle Check?
A nozzle check can be performed from a printer’s control panel, or a computer connected to the printer.
Most midrange or traditional printers do not come with a dedicated control panel, so it would be recommended to use the computer for nozzle check.
But we have listed both processes, here is how to perform nozzle check from Printer’s Control Panel and a PC:
Nozzle Check from Computer:
- Click on the Start button and search for Control Panel.
- Navigate to Hardware and Sound >> Devices and Printers and select your printer.
- Right-click and click on Printer Properties.
- Find the Nozzle check option from different tabs and click OK.
- Check if the printouts are clean with no blotches, gaps, and missing colours.
Nozzle Check from Printer’s Control Panel:
- Find out the maintenance option and click it.
- Next, find the Print Head Nozzle Check option. It may be located in different printers’ locations, but it can usually be found under the Maintenance Option.
- The printer will throw a CMYK colour page that has lines on it. If you find lines with gaps and imperfections, it is a sign that the print head requires cleaning.
Self Cleaning Process for Windows
Self-cleaning is one of the easiest ways to clean the print heads when your printer is not delivering quality printouts.
You can easily clean the printheads by connecting the printer to your computer or laptop. It is a simple and quick process.
Make sure the printer is loaded with the paper sheets to perform self-cleaning. Further, the process may vary depending upon the printer brand.
- Click on the Start button and search for Control Panel.
- Navigate to Hardware and Sound >> Devices and Printers.
- Right-click on the printer and select properties.
- Click on the maintenance tab and find Tools.
- Click on Clean Heads or something similar to it.
- Now, you simply have to follow the on-screen instructions to clean the print heads.
Self Cleaning Process for Mac
- Go to the menu and click on the top left.
- Next, click on System Preferences.
- On this page, find out Printers & Scanners and select your printer.
- Select Options & Supplies on the next page.
- You have to click on the Utility tab and open the Printer Utility to select Deep Cleaning.
- The printer will initiate the print heads cleaning process and perform a test print on selecting Deep Cleaning.
- Check if all the issues are resolved. If such issues persist, you may need to perform a manual cleaning process that takes a little effort and time.
Manual Cleaning Process
Manual cleaning is a detailed cleaning of print heads. You will need to gather supplies like a cleaning solution or water and a lint-free cloth or a paper towel.
After gathering the supplies, follow the process given below:
- Turn off the printer and make sure to unplug it from the power source. Also, remove the USB cable of the printer if it is connected to the computer.
- Open the access panel of the printer.
- Find out and remove the ink cartridges.
- Also, remove the tray or cartridge housing. It is also the printhead unit in the printer. You can see multiple holes in the housing or tray at the bottom.
- Many printers have the print heads in the cartridge housing, whereas some can have the tray at different locations. For instance, HP printers have printheads in the housing. Further, some printheads cannot be detached from the printer, so you have to clean the printhead inside the printer itself.
- Dampen the cloth into the water but make sure it does not contain too much water.
- Now, brush the areas of the print heads like the foil, electrical contact, etc. Ensure there is no ink left on the print head. Otherwise, you will not get quality prints.
- Clean the cartridge housing as well. Make sure to clean all the electrical contacts of the printer.
- If your printer comes with a detachable print head, you can use a bowl full of water and soak the print head into the water bowl for about 5 minutes. Ensure all the ink is removed. If there is any left, use a paper towel to remove any ink left off.
- Also, make sure there is no moisture left on the print head. Let the print head get dry and install them back into the printer.
- Place back the ink cartridges.
- After everything is back in place, close the access panel of the printer and perform a nozzle check again.
- Check if the issue is resolved or not.
- If the issue is still not resolved, you can keep the printheads in the water bowl for an extended period. Further, it would be recommended to contact the customer support of the respective brand.
Can You Use Rubbing Alcohol to Clean Printer Heads?
You can use the Isopropyl alcohol to clean the printer heads but not the rubbing alcohol.
However, if your printer comes with undetachable print heads, ensure you do not use rubbing alcohol as it can damage the print heads.
Only use 7 to 10 drops of the isopropyl alcohol or any other standard cleaning solution to clean the print heads.
Can You Use Nail Polish Remover to Clean Printhead?
No, you should never use the nail polish remover to clean the printheads of a printer.
A nail polish remover can damage the plastic of the print heads, which can be costly to replace or repair.
Can You Use Vinegar to Clean Printheads?
If you cannot clean the printheads with normal warm water, we would advise you to use vinegar to clean the printheads.
However, you should always mix a little water with vinegar to make a concentrated solution. This solvent will easily clean any clogged or dried-up print heads without any hassle.
You can fill a bowl of water and add vinegar to it, and then soak the print heads into it. Make sure the print head does not sit in the bowl for more than 5 minutes.
Can You Use Acetone to Clean Clogged Printheads?
Yes, you can also use Acetone to clean the clogged printheads. You can take the Acetone into a small bowl and soak the printheads into it.
Make sure you don’t leave the printheads into the solvent for more than an hour.
Best Material to Clean Inkjet Printhead?
When it comes to cleaning an inkjet printer’s printhead, then the best solution you can try is Isopropyl alcohol.
It is the best solvent to clean the printheads, as it can easily remove the dried ink without any hassle. Further, it is not a strong solvent, so it does not smell strong and melt the sponge.
These are the all possible and best way to clean the print head of a printer. And these processes are very easy to learn and apply.
However, if your printer still has printing issues it might be due to your cartridge (learn 6 facts about printer cartridges) or your printer just needs a full cleaning process to resolve the problem.
And also printing issues develop from the bad quality ink. If you have recently refilled your cartridges from a third party store then it might create a problem.
So, it is better to know if refilling ink cartridges is a good idea or bad?
Tanmoy Misra found his love for tech early in life when he got his first Nintendo (NES) console. He spent many hours blowing into cartridges to no avail until inspiration struck and he started taking apart and rebuilding anything that didn’t work. After dropping console gaming at the end of high school, Tanmoy entered the world of PC online gaming. His love of gaming and problem-solving soon led him to build his computers. As per expertise, he is an ISF-certified video calibrator and covering AV for a number of publications since 2018.