How to Manually Clean an HP Inkjet Cartridge

How to Manually Clean an HP Inkjet Cartridge. To ensure that your printer is working to the best of its abilities, the ink cartridges need to stay as fresh and clean as possible. Instead of hassling with cartridge cleaning systems, some people choose to clean their ink cartridges themselves. There are certain ways to clean your ink cartridge so you don't damage the cartridge and the printer.

Step 1

Unplug the power cord from the printer.

Step 2

Remove the ink cartridge(s). Check your user manual for specific instructions on how to remove your cartridge from the printer. Once you've removed them, place them wide side down on a paper towel.

Step 3

Find the copper colored circuitry strip. This is generally located on the back of the cartridge. Clean this portion with a cotton swab containing a little bit of water.

Step 4

Find the carriage contacts on the ink cartridge. These are located on the back wall of the ink cartridge. Clean these contacts with a cotton swab containing a little bit of water also.

Step 5

Remove any leftover moisture. Examine both the copper colored circuitry strip and the contacts you've just cleaned. Use a cotton swab to remove any water left on each.

Step 6

Reinstall your ink cartridge(s). Consult your manual for full directions on how to do that. Be sure all moisture is removed from the ink cartridge before reinstalling.

Things You'll Need

  • HP inkjet printer

  • Distilled water

  • Paper towels

  • Cotton swabs


If your printer is hooked up to a computer you do not have to manually clean your ink cartridges. Be sure to keep any water you use away from the interior of the printer.


Do not touch or wipe the nozzle end of the cartridge or the nozzle plate while cleaning. This could cause damage to your ink cartridge. Once the cartridges are removed, do not keep them outside the printer any longer than 30 minutes.