HOW TO CLEAR STUBBORN INKJET PRINTER CLOGS
Do you own an inkjet printer? Has the printhead ever clogged
up on you, creating streaks or missing colors from your printing?
Clogs can be a huge source of frustration. Normally when you
find out you have a clog, it's usually while you're right in the
middle of printing something important. It's one of those
problems that just throws itself in your lap without warning,
and seems to taunt you in your efforts to fix it.
Most of the time, printhead clogs can be easily flushed out
with a couple of basic head cleaning cycles.
A head cleaning cycle is a built-in function of your printer,
which is meant to address this type of problem. This proceedure
generally sends a strong "print" signal to your printer, while
drawing a small vacuum from beneath in an attempt to suck out
the clogged ink from the printhead. (The printhead is the
portion of your printer or inkjet cartridge, where the ink comes
From our experience, you'll need to run between 3 to 5 cycles
to fully clear most clogs.
The location of the head cleaning cycle "start button" varies
for each printer brand, so refer to your printer owner's manual
for detailed instructions to find yours. (If you don't have
your manual anymore, you can check the manufacturer's website of
your printer. They tend to have most printer manuals online.)
Sometimes however, a few standard head cleaning routines don't
seem to do the job. Other times a printhead clog can be
persistant enough to make you want to rip out your hair.
For times like these, you need to pull out the big guns...
There are some specific cleaners out there for this purpose.
They are formulated to disolve dried or "gummy" ink which may
have accumulated from either infrequent printer use, or just a
general build-up over time.
I have personally brought an old printer "back from the dead"
that I purchased off eBay using a product called 'Clog Buster'.
The problem with using a product like this however, is that you
generally don't have it in your immediate possession, and will
have to wait for it to be shipped to you. In the meantime, your
printing project will have to wait.
(Or will it???)
You may be able to solve the problem using some household
products. In fact, Windex glass cleaner actually works pretty
good for dissolving dried ink. The secret ingredient is ammonia.
Tough clogs can usually be brought to their knees by soaking
the printhead in a 50/50% solution of ammonia and distilled
A important word of warning before we proceed... Ammonia is
powerful stuff. When working with ammonia, make sure you've got
good ventilation -- and avoid mixing it with other chemicals.
If your printhead is located on the inkjet cartridge itself,
soak the printhead in the 50/50 solution for a couple of hours.
If the printhead unit is located inside your inkjet printer,
first remove the inkjet cartridge, then put some solution into
the top of the printhead (the carriage part in the printer) and
let it sit a few hours. Also put a little more into the
printhead resting seat. (The rubber rectangle part that seals
off the printhead unit when the carriage is in it's resting
If that doesn't work, then try using 100% ammonia for up to 1
hour, and then rinse completely with distilled water.
If the clog doesn't immediately open, let the printer sit
overnight and try it again the next day. Many times the clog
will release later as the ammonia takes it's toll.
Finally, for those wondering about using alcohol to unclog
cartridges and printhead -- a quick note...
Alcohol doesn't work as well as ammonia. Also, alcohol may
initially work and appear to fix the clog, but over time alcohol
will actually dry out the plastics and metals in the printhead
and may actually increase the chances of clogging later on. So
try to avoid it if possible.
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