How to Clean Your Inkjet Printer like a Pro? Top Tips from Experts

Your printer can serve you for a longer duration of time without exhibiting a drop in print quality if you clean and maintain it on a regular basis. Here in this guide, we will discuss how you can clean your inkjet printer like a pro.

Cleaning the Printhead – Use the Cleaning Function


Many inkjet printers available in the market nowadays have an automatic printhead cleaning feature. In HP inkjet printers, this feature is generally present under the ‘Printer Maintenance’ section of the display menu.

An automatic printhead cleaning cycle takes about one to two minutes to complete. A miniature wiper-blade wipes old ink on the printhead. Some inkjet printers initiate printhead cleaning (by default) each time they are powered on.

Print a test page once the printhead cleaning cycle is complete to compare print quality. You can run the cleaning function two or three times more until you get the expected print quality.

Since this feature uses ink for cleaning the printhead, it is best not to turn off an inkjet too often and avoid repeated use of the printhead cleaning function to make your ink cartridge last longer.

How to Manually Clean the Printhead?


Inkjet printers do not differ in how they work but they may have either an integrated or a removable printhead. If the printhead gets dirty or clogged, it will mess up your print job for sure. You may get faded prints, some colors may be missing altogether, or you may notice smudges, streaks, etc. on prints.

Although modern inkjets are designed so that the inside of the printhead will clean itself (as discussed above) but you may still need to manually clean the printhead on some occasions.

Let’s first discuss how you should manually clean a removable printhead (built into the printer).

  1. Get a lint-free cloth, dry paper towels, filtered water, and a plastic container.
  2. Fold dry paper towels and soak them in hot water inside the plastic container. Dampen the link free cloth with hot water.
  3. Remove ink cartridges from the machine and place them (facing up) on a dry paper towel.
  4. Remove the printhead and gently wipe away the dust, excess ink, etc. with a lint-free cloth. Now, place it (nozzles facing down) on soaked paper towels for around 10 minutes. Next, place the printhead (nozzles facing up) on a dry paper towel for at least 15 minutes.
  5. Reinstall the printhead and ink cartridges.
  6. Run the printer’s cleaning function once and print a test page.
  7. Listed below are the steps for manually cleaning an integrated printhead:
  8. Remove the integrated cartridge-printhead unit and place it (the printhead facing down) on a dry paper towel.
  9. Blot the cartridge with a damp water towel (or coffee filter). This is done in order to get rid of any dry ink on the printhead.
  10. Let a dry paper towel wick the ink out of the printhead for at least 5 minutes.
  11. Reinstall the integrated unit and print a test page.

If you notice poor print quality even after having cleaned the integrated cartridge, it may be a sign that you need to replace the cartridge.

Ink cartridges are susceptible to drying. So, you ought to know how to properly care for ink cartridges in storage.

Cleaning the Paper Roller


The paper roller inside an inkjet printer feeds paper into the device and pulls it out. Dust, gunk, shreds of paper, etc. in and around the paper roller in an inkjet printer can increase the risk of paper jams and misaligned prints.

You can brush, vacuum, wipe, or simply blow out any debris or accumulated dust to keep the paper roller clean.

Depending upon the printer model, you may need to remove the printer cartridge assembly to gain access to paper rollers.

Cleaning the Exterior of the Printer


Dampen a piece of soft cloth in filtered/distilled water and wipe the exterior of the printer.

Final Words


While you can initiate the automatic printhead cleaning function once every week, manually cleaning should not be necessary unless the printer has been left unused for a long time. You will need to clean your printer more often if it’s used in a dirty environment.

Be sure to avoid refilled ink cartridges as they are susceptible to leakages and can damage the printhead. There are other, smarter ways to save money on printer ink.

For example, if you are looking for low-cost ink, consider buying remanufactured or compatible HP cartridges.

If print quality issues persist even after you clean your printer, consider reading our guide on when you should buy a new printer.