How to Clean a Print Head

By James Clark

Cleaning the print head on your inkjet printer regularly will produce cleaner copies and prolong the life of your hardware. Most printers and scanners have a self-cleaning feature that can resolve some problems, although your intervention with a few simple cleaning techniques occasionally will remove any gunk and ensure nice, clean output.

Things You'll Need

  • Printer (or scanner with printing function)
  • Cotton swabs
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Can of compressed air

Step 1

Turn on the printer and press the cleaning button. On some models, it may be necessary to press a certain button two or more times to launch the cleaning feature. Check your owner's manual for instructions specific to your model. If your printer does not have a cleaning button on the control panel, go to Printers and Faxes in the Control Panel menu on your computer and double-click.

Step 2

Select the cleaning mode from the list of options under Printers and Faxes in the Control Panel menu, then follow the screen prompts.

Step 3

Open the printer cover and wait for the printer head to stop moving in order to begin a more thorough cleaning.

Step 4

Remove the printer ink cartridges. On most printers and scanners, this will involve either tipping the cartridge forward to unlock and then lift it out of the compartment, or opening a compartment door and lifting the cartridge straight up.

Step 5

Look for the nozzles in the printer cartridge that feed ink to the printer. These will be small holes less than the diameter of a pencil tip.

Step 6

Clean around the nozzles with a cotton swab dipped lightly in rubbing alcohol. Repeat until the swabs are no longer stained from cleaning around the nozzles.

Step 7

Allow the alcohol to evaporate completely.

Step 8

Blow short bursts of compressed air around the nozzles to dislodge any remaining particles.

Step 9

Replace the ink cartridges, close the cover and print a test page.