If you are encountering low-quality printing issues with your Inkjet printer, it may be time to clean the printer heads. Printer heads are responsible for holding the ink cartridges and spraying ink into the paper for printing. But when they get clogged, you may not get printouts from your printer as expected.
Normally, a notification will be displayed on your printer’s screen when there is no ink passing from the printhead. However, if you get faded printing or even a blank page despite the cartridges full of ink, it may be the time to clean printer heads.
Some printers provide you with the function of running a cleaning cycle from your computer. Some have a separate button to clean the printer heads. While most of them require cleaning printheads manually. We will discuss all the methods in this article.
When to Clean the Printer Heads?
Before you start cleaning the printheads, you should first know if you really need to clean them or not. Trying to clean it unnecessarily will only cost you more since cleaning wastes ink on your ink cartridge.
You should start cleaning the printhead when,
- Print quality is declining
- The entire page you print is blurry or unclear
- Issues getting all colors printed if you have a color printer
- Text is missing on the print
Why Printer Head Gets Clogged?
Before moving on to the process of cleaning the printer head it is necessary to understand why the printhead gets clogged in the first place. If you can escape from the causative agents, you can save some bucks needed to clean the printheads.
Here’re some of the reasons:
- Inactive for a Long Period: Printheads normally get clogged when your printer is not printing for a long period of time. When the ink dries, it interferes with the normal flow of ink. The irregular passing of the ink on your paper causes low-quality printing.
- Air Bubbles: If you recently changed your cartridge, improper installation of the cartridge may form bubbles and prevent proper printing. Changing ink can also cause air bubble formation.
- Foreign Objects: Dirt, debris, or foreign bodies like insects may get into the internals of your printer. If it reaches printheads, it can get clogged and affect your print quality.
How to Clean Printer Heads?
Once you figure out if you actually need to clean the printheads, let’s see how you can clean them effectively. Depending upon the model of printer you are using, the manufacturer provides various methods to clean the printheads. Let’s check some of them in detail.
Using Printing Preferences Option
If you own printers like the Epson L110 series or Canon MP280 series, you can use the printhead cleaning feature from Windows itself. No need to hassle and open up your printer case for cleaning.
We have used the Epson L110 series printer for elucidation purposes. You can also check the steps on your printer since the steps are similar if you have the feature available for your printer.
- Hit Windows key + R on your keyboard.
- Type control and press Enter.
- Click Hardware and Sound menu.
- Then click Devices and Printers.
- Under the Printers sub-menu, right-click the printer whose printhead you want to clean. In my case, I will right-click over the EPSON L110 Series printer.
- Choose Printing Preferences from the context menu.
- In the Printing Preferences window, jump to the Maintenance tab.
- Click over the Head Cleaning tab.
- In the next popup window, click the Start button.
- Wait some time for the head cleaning to complete.
- You can verify if the printer is doing a proper job after cleaning the head. Click the Print Nozzle Check Pattern button.
- You will get a sample pattern printed on a page. After looking into it, you can ensure that the printhead is working properly. If not, you can try cleaning the head again. But don’t do it many times as it consumes ink.
Using Buttons on Your Printer
Many printers from Epson, like the Epson L310 series and L3200 series, have specific buttons on their button panel that can be used for nozzle checking and head cleaning.
Follow the steps below to perform a printer head cleaning. Here, we have used an Epson L380 printer for demonstration.
- Power on your printer.
- Keep pressing the Cancel button on your button panel for a few seconds until the power button light starts blinking.
- It will start the head cleaning process. It normally takes about 5-10 minutes to complete the process.
- After the cleaning process is complete, the power button light will constantly glow. You can use your printer normally then.
Tip: When you refill ink in the printer, the printhead does not automatically start receiving the ink. This method can also come in handy in such situations to enable the printhead to receive the ink.
Manually Cleaning the Printer Heads
If running the printhead cleaning cycle from Windows settings or buttons does not work, you have to perform manual cleaning. Moreover, if your printer does not have those features, there is no option except manually cleaning the printhead.
Depending upon the position of printheads on your printer, the steps to remove the printheads from your printer casing may differ. However, you can apply the same methodology for cleaning.
Before starting the cleaning, you need to gather a use-and-throw glove, a plastic container, a piece of microfiber cloth, a few paper towels, and distilled hot water.
Here, we have taken a reference for the Brother DCP-J125 model printer for illustration purposes.
- Take the use-and-throw container and place a paper towel into it. Make sure you fold the paper towel so that it has a thickness of about 0.25 inches.
- Get a bottle of distilled hot water and pour it into the container. The water level should be about 2-3 inches deep for properly immersing the paper towel.
- Now, it’s time to uninstall all the ink cartridges from your printer. For that, unscrew all the screws from the cabinet that encloses the internals of printer.
- This is what internals of Brother DCP-J125 model printer looks like:
- Now, you can remove the cartridge in two ways:
- Press the lock above each cartridge.
- Gently push the cartridge itself to release the locks and remove them.
Please remember the order in which they are placed before removing them.
- Once you remove the cartridges, take another piece of paper towel and place those cartridges over it. Make sure the ink outlets are faced towards you so that it do not get spilled.
- After that, it’s time to remove the printhead from the printer.
- Gently pull the latch that holds the printhead and take it out of the printer.
- Meanwhile, take a microfiber cloth and mildly damp it with distilled hot water.
- Now take the printhead and wipe it gently over the damped cloth to clean the surplus ink in the nozzle.
- Then take the container you prepared before and place the printhead into it facing the nozzle downwards.
- Keep it soaked for about 10 minutes. You will see the paper towel will absorb all the excess ink in the container.
- Remove the printhead from the container and place it in another dry piece of paper towel. But now you need to face the nozzle upwards. Let it dry for about 15 minutes.
However, if your printer head has an embedded circuit board, you must dry it for a few extra days. You may end up damaging the printhead if you install it without drying completely.
- After you have finished cleaning and drying the printheads, now you should reinsert it in the printhead holder.
- Place the printhead in the holder and lock it using the latch you pulled up previously.
- Place all the cartridges in their respective slots. Push them gently until you hear a click sound.
- Close the access door of your printer.
Note: Do not use a hairdryer or a can of compressed air to dry your printhead. You may end up damaging it.