If you don’t use your printer often, sometimes ink in your printer head will dry and lead to clogging. When you start to see lines, streaks or bands on your printouts, or if some parts of your document have lighter prints on it, this could also indicate that it’s time to clean your printhead.
A clogged printhead may trigger the change cartridge signal on your printer, or could simply prevent ink from making its way onto the page. Unclogging your printer head can be messy and tedious, but maintaining your printer to prevent clogs is easy. A popular way to address a clogged print head is the paper towel method:
Paper Towel Method
If your printer uses only two cartridges–black and tricolor, that means your printer uses ink cartridges with an integrated printhead.
Only printers that use ink cartridges with an integrated printhead can use the paper towel method.
Some popular ink cartridges you can do the paper towel method on are the following: HP 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65 ink cartridges, and the Canon PG243, CL-244, PG-245, PG-245XL, 246, 246XL ink cartridges.
To do the paper towel method, you will need to have a damp paper towel and a dry paper towel at the ready.
- Take the warm, damp paper towel and blot the cartridge with the printhead side down onto the towel. The printhead is located on the end of the cartridge where the ink comes out and is typically a gold or copper strip.
- Tap down the cartridge a few times. Slide the cartridge down on the paper towel and repeat the process until you see solid lines of ink on the paper towel. If you’re doing this on a tricolor cartridge, repeat the process until you see all three colors on the paper towel.
- Reminder: Be careful not to confuse the printhead with the gold and copper contacts or dots. I know they sound awfully similar, but if you don’t see ink on the paper towel then you are probably blotting the wrong part of the cartridge!
- When you clearly see ink on the damp paper towel, hold the cartridge against the dry paper towel for 30 seconds to a minute. This process wicks out any dried ink that may be preventing you from a quality print.
- Once complete, slide the cartridge back in the machine and run a test print.
- Often times this does the job quite nicely. If not, repeat the process again. If the second time doesn’t cut it move on to our next tip, printhead cleaning!
Printhead Cleaning from the Printer Display Screen
If you have a printer that uses individual color cartridges, like the Epson® 702XL series, then this means the printhead is built into the printer.
Most common culprits for a clogged printhead are microscopic dust particles, air bubbles or dried ink. Running a printhead cleaning on your machine will clear the print nozzles of excess or dried up ink. Though the setup might be different for each printer, this is a typical cleaning function built into the printer’s software. Print a test page to see if the clog is gone, print a second one to be sure (sometimes two will do the trick). If that does not clear up the issue, stop doing any further cleanings as this use up a lot of ink and running multiple cleanings in a row doesn’t usually render better results than the first. We walk you through the process with an Epson Workforce Pro WF-3820 printer in the video below. These steps are similar with most printers, consult your user’s guide to find the cleaning process that will work for you.`