How to Clean Print Cartridge Nozzles

By James Clark

Almost all consumer inkjet printers have a programmable self-cleaning utility that helps keep your printer running smoothly. The self-cleaning program activates from the printer control panel or can be turned on with your computer. But the self-cleaning program might not work if the printer has had heavy use or has been idle for awhile. This can cause the ink in the printer cartridges to build up around the nozzles where the toner feeds into the printer, clogging the jet mechanism.

Things You'll Need

  • Bottle of isopropyl alcohol
  • Eyedropper
  • Q-Tips
  • Paper

How to Clean Print Cartridge Nozzles

Step 1

Disconnect the printer from its power supply and remove the printing cartridges from the device. Most printers contain at least two cartridges, one for black and one for color.

Step 2

Locate the small holes in the printer where the toner cartridges were installed. Place 10 drops of isopropyl alcohol into each nozzle using an eyedropper.

Step 3

Use a Q-Tip moistened with alcohol to swab around the nozzles to loosen and remove any dried ink that has accumulated on top. Allow the alcohol to evaporate.

Step 4

Run the printer's cleaning and diagnostics test. Repeat steps 2 through 4 as needed until the printer produces clean copy.

Tips & Warnings

  • It might be necessary to apply alcohol drops and allow the printer to idle overnight while the alcohol dissolves the dried ink toner.To avoid a clogged printer nozzle, try to print an image or document at least once a week. This helps keep the toner running freely.