You probably have an inkjet printer at home or at your workplace and might have had problems at some point. If you see lines appearing in the text when you print and it is difficult to read, it is no doubt because your print heads are clogged. Often, many of these failures would not occur if you took a few minutes to keep them clean and allow the colors to flow unobstructed through the nozzles to the paper. Read on to find out how to clean your printer heads without wasting too much time or making life too difficult.
Before You Start
The first thing you should be clear about before cleaning the print heads is that each brand of printer, and each model specifically, has different characteristics. It is recommended that you take a look at your printer's user manual, as the best advice will always be provided by the manufacturer. Keep in mind that some brands reduce or eliminate their printer's warranty if they notice any kind of modification, no matter how small.
The advice you will read below will help you avoid many problems as long as you are consistent. It is not enough to clean your print heads perfectly if you do it once every several years, but it is better to spend a few minutes on it frequently (for example, every three months if you print very often).
If you are a professional and the printer is an essential part of your work, you should know that there are companies specialized in the maintenance and cleaning of this type of devices.
Bear in mind that printers are high precision devices and therefore you must be careful and delicate when handling them. It is not a matter of being afraid, but of applying firmness with touch and without forcing the pieces. Of course, don't forget to unplug your printer from the electrical outlet before starting to clean the print heads and look for a room free of dust and dirt.
Finally, remember that the planet has limited resources and humanity is facing the challenge of combating global warming. Try to use your printer consciously, only when the paper is really needed.
Before you roll up your sleeves to clean your printer heads, check if your device has a self-cleaning program to remove blockages. If so, this is the most recommended option: activate it and wait for it to finish before starting the manual cleaning. Remember that you must let your device rest for at least 15 minutes before starting the self-cleaning process. Don't forget to unplug the printer when the self-cleaning is complete.
On the manufacturer's page you can find the guide to your printer and find out if it has a self-cleaning program or button. Here is the official websites of the main manufacturers:
Head Cleaning Liquid
It's all already created: on e-shops like Amazon you can find head-cleaning liquid, a substance that facilitates cleaning as long as the clogging problem is not serious (it is not a highly corrosive liquid). It is advisable to use a syringe to apply the liquid (it is usually included in the same pack) and some clean cloth or a napkin, which you will have to slide softly and repeatedly. You can print test pages to check if the printing is improved and therefore your cleaning has been useful.
Cleaning heads using a microfiber cloth with distilled water is an easy, fast and intuitive method. This method works best on older printers, as they have thicker nozzles. Microfiber cloth can be purchased in any supermarket, as it is also used to clean and dry smooth and delicate surfaces, such as kitchen marble.
Locate your printer’s print heads, just below the place where the ink cartridges are placed. Slightly wet the microfiber cloth in distilled water (if you do not have distilled water, use a little cleaning alcohol or, ultimately, a tiny amount of tap water). Try not to overdo the liquid and, above all, do not touch any of the electronic components of your printer while cleaning.
In this method, the key is patience and skill, not force. Concentrate on the holes in the print heads and rotate the cloth to take advantage of the clean areas. When you are done, don't forget to apply a dry cloth to remove any trace of moisture.
Head On the Cartridge
When cleaning the print heads, you may have discovered that they are in the ink cartridge itself. In fact, this is the case with HP printers, one of the most famous brands. How should you clean in such a situation? If your printer is HP, it probably has a self-cleaning system. If this program doesn't solve your problem, the clogging of the print head will be solved when you change the ink cartridge (since it is integrated in the print head). It's that simple.
In professional establishments, one of the most widely used methods for cleaning head injectors is ultrasound machines. This is a solution that is not available to everyone, but perhaps many people will read this and find their solution there: the vibrating waves are very effective in destroying the hard particles left inside the heads.
In addition to keeping your printer in a clean, dust- and dirt-free environment, there is a very good method that will prevent its heads from getting clogged: simply try to print one page a week. It's that simple. With this method, you will ensure that the ink does not dry on the print heads and thus avoid clogging.
Photo: © Daria Filimonova - 123RF.com
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