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Tips for unclogging print heads (for inkjet printers)

Last Updated: May 25, 2012 12:11PM PDT
When print heads are in the printer*:
 
First and foremost, you should run the printers regular and deep cleaning cycles (if the printer had the option to do so) to see if that fixes the problem. If not then your next step is to remove the actual print head (if possible, some Canon printers allow this). This is done by removing the cartridges and then detaching the print head from the printer. After the print head has been removed the following tips below can be used:
  • Let the print head sit in isopropyl alcohol (either room temperature or hot, hot being more effective)
  • Use compressed air to blow through the nozzles to remove anything that might be trapped.
Note: In cases when the print head cannot be removed, cleaning cartridges could be installed and cleaning cycle can be run with the cleaning cartridges installed. Cleaning cartridges contain a special solution that will remove all the ink from the system.
 
When print heads are on the cartridge**:
 
Before removing the cartridge you should run the regular and deep cleaning cycles (If your printer has the option to do so.) If this does not work then you will need to open the printer and remove the cartridges from the printer to perform some or all of the tips below.
  • Let the head of the cartridge sit in water or isopropyl alcohol (either room temperature or hot, hot being more effective)
  • Wipe the cartridges on a paper towel till you see the correct color or all colors coming out
  • Use a steamer to loosen clog of the nozzles.
 
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* Which inkjet models have print heads in the printer?
  • All Epson Inkjets
  • All Brother Inkjets
  • All Kodak Inkjets
  • Most Canon Inkjets (all those that have tank style cartridges with individual cartridges for each color, like the Canon BCI-3/BCI-6 series, PGI-5/CLI-8 series, PGI-220/CLI-221 series, PGI-225/CLI-226 series)
  • Some HP Inkjets (those that have tank style cartridges, with individual cartridges for each color, like the HP 02, HP 10, HP 11, HP 88, HP 564 etc)
  • Some Lexmark Inkjets  (those that have tank style cartridges, with individual cartridges for each color, like the Lexmark 100, 100xl etc)
  • Some DellInkjets  (those that have tank style cartridges, with individual cartridges for each color)
 
** Which inkjet models have print heads on the cartridge?
  • Some Canon Inkjets (those printers that accept 1 cartridge for black, and 1 multi-color cartridge for color, such as the Canon PG-30/CL-31, PG-40/CL-41, PG-50/CL-51 and PG-210/CL-211 cartridges)
  • Most HP Inkjets (those printers that accept 1 cartridge for black, and 1 multicolor cartridge for color)
  • Some Lexmark Inkjets (those that have 1 cartridge for black, and 1 multicolor cartridge for color)
  • Some Dell Inkjets (those that have 1 cartridge for black, and 1 multicolor cartridge for color)

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