How to Prevent Your Printer’s Print Heads From Deteriorating and How to Restore Them

Your printer’s print head is the element that deposits ink down on the paper. When dried ink or bits of paper clog these tiny mechanisms, you may see streaks and uneven ink distribution in your printed documents. Clearing a clogged print head could take time and effort.

How to prevent the print heads from deteriorating

Regular Use

The easiest way to keep your print heads clear and in good working condition is to use the printer regularly. This keeps the ink flowing properly and prevents it from drying on the print heads.

Regular Cleaning

Even if you use your printer daily, a few droplets of ink may have dried in the tube coming out of the ink cartridge or on the print heads themselves. Use your printer’s cleaning program at least once a month to flush any ink leftover in the heads.


If you do not intend to use your printer for an extended period, remove the ink cartridges and wrap them tightly in plastic wrap to keep them fresh. This will also prevent the ink from dripping into the tubes and print heads, drying and causing clogging. Depending on your printer, you may be able to remove the print heads for cleaning or storage.

Turning the Printer Off

When your printer is on, it moves the print heads and warms the ink to make it ready for use. If you do not turn the printer off at the machine itself so it can return the carriage to its “home” position, the ink in the print head can dry out and clog. Never use drastic measures to turn off the printer such as cutting the power supply. Instead, use the power button on the printer so that it can shut down properly to protect the print heads and the ink from damage or drying.


How to Manually Clean Clogged Ink Cartridges

  • Remove the clogged ink cartridge from the printer. Use the proper method for your make and build, but, generally speaking, you could simply open the cover and lift out the cartridge.
  • Locate the print head where the ink comes out of the cartridge and wipe off the dry or crusty ink.
  • Moisten a soft, lint-free cloth with water and wipe the print head surface. If you have hard water or if you are concerned about mineral deposits from your tap water, use distilled water.
  • Put the cartridge back in the printer and print a test. If you still see bands or blank areas, run the print head cleaner utility that came with your printer’s software. If the print is still uneven, soak the cartridge.
  • Fill a small bowl with warm water. You only need enough water to cover the print head. Refill instructions recommend heating the water to around 180 degrees for best results. For completely clogged cartridges, use a 50-50 solution made of water and ammonia.
  • Hold the ink cartridge in the warm water or in the ammonia solution so that the print head is submerged. If you have a cartridge with a metal plate on the bottom, use the ammonia solution on a cotton swab and only clean the print head.
  • Soak the ink cartridge until the water cools, dry it with a soft cloth and reinsert it into the printer. Run the print head cleaning utility that came with your printer, then try printing to make sure the ink is flowing normally again.
Categories: Printer, Ink Cartridge

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