How to Clean an Inkjet Printer cartridge

You often see ink streaks, blemishes, spots, and missing lines on your printed copy. This is not a significant issue; the problem lies in the hardware device- the printer, a clogged print head.

Be it inkjet printers or laser printers, they are easy to use, inexpensive, and ease up our work to a great extent. However, inkjet printers require frequent servicing and maintenance if used at home or in offices.

Cleaning the dust and changing the ink cartridges timely can provide good print quality and increase the printing machine’s life span.

What is an inkjet printer?

An inkjet printer is a computer peripheral that digitally recreates an image on a hard copy by propelling ink. It can create at least three hundred dots per inch, creating a photo-like image.

What is a Printhead?

A print head is that component of the printer that does most of the work and causes problems. It is an essential requirement for printing, and most printers have a built-in print head. It has many tiny nozzles called jets spray ink precisely on the sheet.

It is always better for professionals to handle and service machinery, especially when used extensively in offices. Nevertheless, here is a step-by-step procedure to clean and maintain your inkjet printer.

How Often should you clean an Inkjet Printer?

Depending on usage, ideally, the inkjet printer needs a cleaning cycle every six months or after three hundred hours of operation, whichever comes first. It is important to note that the ink cartridges dry out when not in use; make sure to seal them and store them in an upright position in a dry cupboard.

Switching off the printer and allowing it to completely cool before cleaning is important. Always use soft materials to clean the interiors of the inkjet printer gently.

Things you will need

To keep things around the printer clean and spot-free, we must prepare ourselves from getting marks on the furniture and the carpets. So let us gather some tools required for the maintenance of the printer before we begin.

#1-Paper towel or clean cloth– Tissues, disposable paper towels, and lint-free cloth are an excellent choice when dealing with ink, as they can quickly soak up excess ink and easily dispose of it. Lint-free clothes don’t leave back any residue in the corners of the printer.

#2-Window cleaner– Window cleaner or any cleaning fluid that can clean stubborn ink stains on the machine is ideal while cleaning the printer.

#3-Printer oil– Any machine oil is essential in oiling the printer’s internal components. It is a part of the maintenance regime to be used after cleaning the printer dust free.

#4- Rubbing alcohol– If you plan deep cleaning your printer, you can use rubbing alcohol to clean the tiny areas using a cotton swab.

#5-Warm water– It is easy to clean any surface with warm water; it even cleans ink spots and loosens clogged holes.

#6-Gloves– This is optional, but it is always better to protect your hand from ink marks.

How to clean a Printer

It is important to note that if you have not done it before, it is better to have a professional perform printer maintenance. This is because some internal parts of the printer are flimsy by nature; if damaged, they can prove quite expensive.

With that said, let us begin to cleaning cycle.

Step#1– Turn on your printer

Please turn on your printer and set it up; while the printer head moves along the cartridge track, unplug the printer from the power source. Now, the print head is unpacked and much easier to remove.

Step#2- Remove internal cartridges

Detach all the cartridges from their slots for print head cleaning. You will notice excess ink clogging the print head and the ink cartridge nozzles; wipe the excess ink off the ink nozzles. Next, remove and clean all the cartridges with a damp cloth; you can use canned air to blow out residues; this is optional.

Now spray some window cleaner and wipe them with a clean cloth, ensuring no excess or dried ink remains. Finally, wrap the cartridges in plastic to prevent them from drying.

Make sure not to touch the metal part on the ink cartridge, as the natural oils from your hands can cause a hindrance in communication between the ink cartridge and the printer.

Step#3- Clean the Ribbon

The ribbon is an essential part of the inkjet printer. To make optimum use of it, make sure to clean it regularly.

Take a paper towel, soak it in some window cleaner and wipe the ink off the ribbon. Be gentle and use to and fro motion to wipe the ribbon gently. It is very fragile and can be expensive if needed to be replaced.

Step#4-Clean the Cartridge Housing

The Cartridge housing is a place where the ink cartridges are stored. Unfortunately, this place also accumulates dust and dried ink that needs to be cleaned promptly. Use a cotton swab for hard-to-reach spots or a paper towel folded by four, dip it in rubbing alcohol and rub it a few times to remove the ink and debris.

Step#5- Oil the Stabilizer Bar

The stabilizer bar runs directly in the printer’s center, allowing the ink cartridges to travel back and forth across the page. For smooth operation of the stabilizer bar, it is required to be oiled now and then.

Put some drops of oil on the bar. Then, slide the cartridge housing using your hands along the bar to get a good coating.

Step#6- Reinsert the Cartridges

Once the internal components are cleaned adequately for dried or excess ink and are dust-free. Plugin the power cord and add back the ink cartridges.

Step#7- General Clean-up

It is always best to be thorough in your work. Once the printer’s internal components are cleaned, let us clean the paper pick-up assembly with a soft, damp cloth; after it is dried, fill it with a fresh stack of paper.

Use the access door to clean the rollers and the sides for dust. You may use a cotton swab if needed.

Now, spray some glass cleaner over the printer’s exterior, clean it with a paper towel, and let it air dry.

Print a test page to check if the printer issues have been solved, and you will receive a clean sheet blotch and marks-free.

How to automatically clean HP printhead

You can run an automatic cleaning cycle on your printer when facing print issues.

Every HP printer has software for cleaning functions; this can be found under the ‘printer maintenance’ section of the printer’s display menu.

The print head cleaning cycle may take a few minutes; some ink will be used during the process.

Once completed, print a test page and check the result; you may run the print head cleaning again if the print does not come out clean.

If you are unsatisfied with the check result, it is better to clean the clogged printhead manually.

How to clean Canon printer’s print heads

All Canon printers have a built-in cleaning function in their printer software.

Step#1– Switch On the printer and open the home screen.

Step#2– Select Maintenance; on the next screen, select the Cleaning option.

Step#3- On being asked to start cleaning, select Yes.

The process will take a minute; you can put a nozzle check test page to check if the print issue has been resolved.


A well-maintained printer will save you time and keep the flow of work going. The maintenance of an inkjet printer will take just a few minutes, and the above steps will give you a detailed explanation of how it is done. If something goes wrong, do not try to fix it yourself; take your printer to a repair shop or consult a technician.

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