How to Clean Clogged Inkjet Print Heads

By Techwalla Computers Editor

A clogged inkjet print head can be a frustrating and expensive experience. The print head becomes clogged with dried ink, stopping the flow of ink onto the page. The problem usually arises when the printer is not used regularly. To clean a clogged inkjet print head, follow these steps.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Paper towels

Step 1

Use the printer's utility program to self-clean the printer. This process may need to be repeated as many as 5 to 10 times. Often this will resolve the problem.

Step 2

Turn the printer off, preferably overnight, if the self-cleaning utility has not worked. The ink may need to soften before the self-cleaning utility will be successful. Turn the printer on and try the self-cleaning utility again several times.

Step 3

Determine from the owner's manual where the print head is located. Epson printers, for example, are usually in the printer. Many other brands place the print head in the cartridge.

Step 4

Remove the cartridge. For models where the print head is in the printer, drop seven to 10 drops of isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) down the ink receptacle area. This is the hole where the ink flows into the head from the cartridge. Run a few self-cleaning utilities. If necessary, allow to sit a few hours or overnight and repeat the self-cleaning utility.

Step 5

Soak the cartridge print head in hot water if the print head is in the cartridge. Allow to soak overnight. Dry the print head area with a paper towel. Repeat the self-cleaning utility.

Step 6

Place the cartridge print head in isopropyl alcohol if the hot water soak did not unclog the print head. Leave the print head covered in alcohol overnight. Use a damp paper towel to wipe off the print head area. Dry carefully. Try the self-cleaning utility again.

Step 7

Purchase a new cartridge if the alcohol soak did not unclog the print head in the cartridge. This will provide new print heads that won't be clogged. Contact a service technician for repair of print heads in the printer if the alcohol did not unclog the print head.

Tips & Warnings

  • Since print heads become clogged when not used for long periods of time, regularly print a page or two to keep the print heads clear.
  • Don't let the inkjet printer run out of ink. Operating while the ink supply is cut off can damage the machine.
  • Always follow the manufacturer's recommendations for operating an inkjet printer.