Is It Time Your Printheads Needed a Clean?

Finding that your photo print outs aren’t looking as sharp as they should be? Are the colours faded or streaky on the documents you’re producing? Then it could be time to give your printer’s printheads a good clean!

Like many other pieces of technology we all now use on a regular basis, it’s not uncommon for errors and problems to occur sometimes when using a printer. Luckily, there is always a solution at hand to fix most of these issues! One that can be common to develop is dirty or clogged printheads stopping a printer from creating print outs. There are two methods you can follow if you are experiencing this type of issue – an automatic method which uses your printer manufacturer’s software or a manual method which requires the use of a few general household items. Read on as we explain these in more detail.

The Self Cleaning Printheads Method

Most printer software will contain a program that will allow you to perform maintenance on your printer if you begin to notice issues with printing. In this example, we’ll be looking at two HP tools – HP Toolbox (for Windows) and HP Inkjet Utility (for Mac) but steps like these could still apply for other printer manufacturers too.

For Computers Running Windows:

  1. Open the HP Toolbox program.
  2. Click on the tab titled ‘Printer Services’
  3. Once you’ve clicked on this, a button should appear called ‘Clean Printheads’. Select this and then follow the on-screen instructions that appear. It’s important to note that these instructions will be different depending on the model of printer you are using.

For Mac Computers:

  1. Open up the ‘Utilities’ folder and then open the ‘HP Photosmart’ folder. Make sure to click the ‘HP Inkjet Utility’ icon that appears to launch the program.
  2. Once in the ‘HP Inkjet Utility’ program, open up the drop down menu.
  3. From the menu that appears, select ‘Clean’. Once selected, follow the on-screen instructions that will appear. Once again, it’s important to consider that the steps provided will be different depending on the model of printer you are using.

The Manual Printhead Cleaning Method

If you find that using your printer’s self-cleaning software hasn’t resolved your printing issues, then you might need to follow these steps to effectively clean the printheads. Before you follow these instructions, you’ll need a dry, lint-free cloth at hand along with a bottle of distilled or filtered water.

  1. Turn on your printer and open up the top cover, waiting 2 to 3 seconds in the process.
  2. Ensure the cord from the back of the printer and the other end of the cord from the wall is unplugged.
  3. Lift up the printhead latch (the location of this will vary depending on the type of printer you are using) and carefully remove the printhead out of its slot.
  4. Delicately wipe the contact pads located on the printheads with a dry, lint-free cloth. DON’T try to wipe the nozzles on the underside of the printhead as you may cause it some damage.
  5. Next, dip the cloth into warm distilled, filtered or bottled water and wipe the contact pads on the printhead again should ink residue still remain.
  6. Place the printhead onto a sheet of paper or a dry paper towel but make sure that none of the nozzles are touching the paper.
  7. Moving on to the inside of the printer, you should then clean the contact points in the empty printhead slot with the cloth. Make sure to allow up to 5 minutes in order for everything to dry.
  8. Plug your printer back in to the wall. It will be at this point that a message will appear indicating that the printhead is missing from your printer.
  9. Once you see this, carefully place the printhead back into its slot. Press down firmly to lock it into place.
  10. Close the printhead latch that was previously open.
  11. Finally, close the printer cover. It’s at this point that the printer will now try to re-initialize the printheads.

Sam Rose