How to Fix a HP Print Head

An HP printer's print head can become clogged by dried ink.

Print quality problems can arise when a print head becomes partially clogged with dried ink. If the dried ink is not removed from the print head, more ink can build up until the print head becomes entirely clogged. Hewlett Packard has installed a self-cleaning function on its printers, but if the clog is severe enough, the print head may need to be cleaned manually.


Step 1

Make sure the printer is on. Hold down the power button while simultaneously pressing the cancel button to select the desired level of cleaning.

Step 2

Select the cancel button once for the first cleaning level. Press the cancel button twice and then the resume button for the second cleaning level. Press the cancel button three times and then the resume button for the third cleaning level.

Step 3

Remove your finger from the printer's power button. The printer will perform the self-cleaning process, then print a configuration page. Inspect the page to ensure the print quality issues have been resolved.

Manual Cleaning

Step 1

Turn the printer on. Wait for a few seconds until the printer cartridge carriage begins to move to the center of the printer, then unplug the power cord.

Step 2

Open the printer's access door and remove the print heads.

Step 3

Clean the contact points of the print head with a microfiber cloth, making sure to completely remove any ink buildup. Do not wipe the nozzles on the underside of the print head.

Step 4

Wet a cotton swab with distilled water and gently clean the rest of the ink residue from the print head's contact points. Do not touch the nozzles on the underside of the print head. Put the print head aside and wet a clean cotton swab down with distilled water.

Step 5

Clean the print head contact points inside the printer, making sure to remove all ink buildup. Wait 15 minutes for the cleaned areas to completely dry. Reinsert the print heads and close the printer's access door. Plug the power cord back into the wall. If print quality issues continue, purchase a replacement print head.

Things You'll Need

  • Cotton swabs

  • Microfiber cloth

  • Distilled water