Picture of how to recover a dry printer head
How many time do you have found your inkjet printer dead after a standing idle long period? Because of the low durability of inkjet prints I usually send them to a web print-shop, so my colours, althought I try to remember to keep them making exercise, often get dry. This happens more certainly if you go on printing after the warning of ended ink (whoops...).
Anyway... it's not a big problem if you know hot to solve the matter.
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Step 1: Remove the cartridges

Picture of remove the cartridges
Some cheap printers have the head attached to the ink-cartridge, but those cartridges are much more expensive and the quality is worse. My Canon IP4600 is a not very expensive printer, but with a good quality and CD printing too, I love it. It has 5 cartridge which you can extract without moving the head, I've already removed them in the picture.

Step 2: Remove the head

Picture of remove the head
To remove the printer head you have to pull up the gray lever. The head will come out with no resistance. Pay attention to not touch the rear contacts and the bottom side where you find the ink nozzles. These last are very delicate, don't  scratch them with rags or other, also if you see they're covered of ink, anyway it might not dip..

Step 3: Find a proper suction tube

Picture of find a proper suction tube
Now you need some luck, but also a good equipped maker shop will be useful. I've searched among the rubber tubes I had, to find one which has the right diameter for the cartridge joints on the printer head. These tubes are not essentials, because probably it's enough dip the head (the printer one, not your!) in water. But I think they'll guarantee the success.
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PoloT7 days ago

Hey all, i have a Canon Pixma MP540 Printer without a B200 Error, how can fix it ??

Shadenf9 days ago

I followed this and many other techniques (bought magic solutions, used ammonia based solutions, used steam, purified water all to no avail) to rescue a donated Epson R230 print head but found the magenta to be permanently blocked along about 30% of it's channel. I have now fixed it using a rather drastic method - simmering the whole thing in a mix of water and white vinegar for about 15 minutes. Finally it is unblocked!

andrea biffi (author)  Shadenf9 days ago
Cool, thanks for sharing! that could be useful!
primoz113 days ago

Anyone know how clean brother printhead Black not work propper (fuzzy text)

2015-03-16 17.43.13.jpg
Thank you Andrea for a great Instructable, I think I will have a go with my very naughty Kodak ESP 3250... naughty because all the advertising etc proclaimed that printing would be a lot cheaper... yes the cartridges are cheaper but they run out very quickly, especially if like me, you don't print very often. Trying to be economical has backfired on me! Now it refuses to print all all but I'm thinking if I try to clean the heads it might be ok. BTW anyone considering buying a Kodak printer, don't bother, the print quality is not that good and the inks run out very quickly... sorry for going off-topic a bit there!

Did it work? I have an ESP 3250 which just stopped printing, blank pages come out. So, I'm wondering if the print head is clogged. Live Chat tech said the problem could not be repaired and I'd have to buy a new printer. This cleaning info gives me hope. Even buying a new print head at $10. would be a better option.

andrea biffi (author)  joeysdreamgarden1 year ago
I think it's a problem of almost all cheap all-in-one printers... good luck, let us know if you'll be able to clean it.
baecker038 months ago

I would like to add that there is a DIY refill kit on for like 20 bucks *US. I have a fiance that is print happy and so I figured it couldn't hurt. Saved over a 100 dollars easy doing this. HP Officejet 6500 wireless btw.

Kante Tech8 months ago

Thank you I figured my printer was dried but did not know how to refill it.

Just don't get into what I've had to deal with...getting yelled at during work because apparently its my 'job' to fix/replace printer ink... I'm a graphic designer. This procedure actually does help :) But also, so does starting fresh. Sometimes you have to. Start cheap...and do what you can to continue keeping costs non-existent or down. Cheap office supplies are everywhere, like here;

BigBoos1 year ago
Fantastic, this proces save my Bussines inkjet 2800 :)
In the case of Epson printers, many had "permanent" heads... as in, they require printer disassembly to remove.

A variation on the above technique is to use a dropper full of ammonia based cleaner (I used generic Windex) NOT in the head, but on the pad where the head rests (in my case, water was not enough of a solvent).

Just turn on the printer and tell it you're changing the cartridges. Once the head moves, power off the printer. Saturate the resting pad, then turn the printer back on, such that the head again rests on the pad. Wait 15 minutes and do a test page.

After four iterations of the above, I went from a bone-dry non-printing machine to a fully functioning one.

Great 'ible!

Thanks, Jim
Do not use ammonia its extremely reactive to the copper in lots of print heads and will cause serious corrosion.
andrea biffi (author)  permutation-jim1 year ago
great, it makes sense, thanks!
vallejoboy1 year ago
What are the sizes of the tube and where can we get it? Thank's for the tips.
Bill WW1 year ago
Thanks for the great Instructable.
You said, "Some cheap printers have the head attached to the ink-cartridge". That may apply to my HP 4600 printer, correct? The cartridges appear to have a printer head included. Since I refill the cartridges rather than buying new, can I use your procedure for cleaning? Osvaldo apparently cleaned HP cartridges I will also ask him.


Some cheap printers have the head attached to the ink-cartridge
andrea biffi (author)  Bill WW1 year ago
with a fast search HP4600 seems to be a laser printer, am I wrong? it works in a different way, you've not nozzles there. I think it's good refill it until it works nice. If you need to clean the rollers, there is a good tutorial in internet, I'll search it.
Thanks for print head cleaning directions. I am thinking that probably there is no solution to your problem as folks in communist countries are not concerned about our copy right laws. At least in our part of the world they would have changed photos or commentary. If this Site can not solve this then no one can. Sorry!
andrea biffi (author)  GyroGearLoose471 year ago
Thanks Archimede Pitagorico (Italian Gyro GearLoose)!
You are welcome, and Thanks for translation of the name I borrowed from comic book character....
Thanks Andrea -

No, it is a bubble jet printer, "HP Photosmart series c4600". It uses ink cartridges like the one in the photo attached.
HP cartridge.jpg
andrea biffi (author)  Bill WW1 year ago
yes, so you can try to clean them with water, it should be harder to let water pass through the nozzles, try leave it in water for long time...
zealroy1 year ago
Thanks to author... :)
ianmcmill1 year ago
Brilliant photos ! Nice tutorial !
naplatki1 year ago
I have a Canon with a definitely useful to me tip. Thank you.
I wanted to add, as you have the possibility to use demineralized water-distilled water. In normal water use are various ions such as unions. calcium, which may damage the head. Distilled water is a better solvent from the usual water.
elNorm1 year ago
Another tip: if you want to try using more suction, put a syringe on the end of the tube and draw back on the plunger. I would be very careful about not using too much suction, though.
For really stubborn clogged heads, you can steam the heads.
There are many ways to do this, but my favourite was a pot that I had, which had a lid with a small circular steam vent in it.
Use as little water in the pot as possible without it going totally dry, and be careful of the steam, and that you don't overheat the pot.
I actually would let the pot just barely go dry, and dump in about 1/8 cup of water so the steam was vigorous. quickly holding the lid down, I would put the printing surface of the head just a couple cm from the steam vent.
The lid was glass, so the ink that would drip off eventually wouldn't stain it, plus I had paper towel around it.
Works like a charm on even the most stubborn heads.

Kudos to the author of this instructable for using water rather than alcohol. Most of the inks today are water soluble, and water works best.
andrea biffi (author)  SuperTech-IT1 year ago
that sounds impressive! maybe this could be the ultimate method to try for stubborn clogged heads, as you say.
Yes, about water, if the ink is water-soluble, you'll see it scattering in water moving a few the printer head. If not maybe you can try with alcohol.
I have been Epson and HP authorized for warranty repairs at one time or another - HP most recently. Back in the Epson days when heads were REALLY REALLY expensive, I learned about steaming the heads. I have rescued countless printers this way. With the move to removable / user-replaceable heads, this job is now much easier. I don't even bother with other methods anymore because this one always worked unless the head itself was damaged.
I stay away from alcohol because the print heads basically work by heating the ink to spray it out - basically boiling a microbubble's worth...and alcohol can let the elements overheat and burn out before you expel all the alcohol. The only time I will use alcohol is to wipe thick encrusted layers of ink/pigment off the print head surface on areas outside the actual printing area.
FirstSpear1 year ago
Small point. Would recommend not using paper towels to lay the heads on; they will pass paper dust onto the heads. Paper towels are very rough with loose fibres, and those nozzles are tiny, tiny, tiny. Nor use any ordinary household cloths; they too are rough, and drop lint throughout their lives - that's why they get thinner over time. Buy a pack of microfibre cloths, preferably the smooth-surfaced ones often designated for cleaning glass; rinse thoroughy before use. To clean: wet it, lay it open, sprinkle some washing up liquid over it, and rub through and rinse. They will become discoloured, but remain useable for a long time, and they don't drop lint. Also, tap water always leaves a residue. Distilled water is readily available and cheap, Alcohol evaporates cleanly. I don't know the properties of clear vinegar, but as it's a distillate, it should be fine. Now, anyone got an instructable for resetting my HP cartridges after refilling?
andrea biffi (author)  FirstSpear1 year ago
I'm sorry I'm not able to help you about chip resetting...
I agree with you about avoiding paper... I'll update my instructable. Thanks!
DaBlakus1 year ago
A touch of cloudy ammonia and detergent helps
andrea biffi (author)  DaBlakus1 year ago
thanks :-)
Try hot water (not boiling that works faster) Circa-Instructables
muñeco1 year ago
Thank you very much! This is what I've been lookin for... for quite a while! Me an my IP4810 are grateful ;)
Wragie1 year ago
Instead of water use white vinegar, other types should work too. This dissolves the dried inks almost instantly. Also you can usually avoid removing the head by just wiping it a few times with a vinegar soaked cloth. Nine out of ten times that is enough to make it print like new. For the odd stubborn one filling the ink cartridges with vinegar and running clean cycles in addition to wiping will do the job. Just repeat until you see no ink. You can also usually revive dead cartridges by rinsing them out as well. Used to pay my mortgage with this 5 minute fix :-)
andrea biffi (author)  Wragie1 year ago
you guys are a source of information without end! I'm happy to have raised this topic, it will rescue lot of needy printers!
About the vinegar I would add the recommendation to filter it with a piece of paper or a towel, so to avoid particles going in the printer nozzles..
No need to try to filter as the ink is dissolved by the vinegar/acetic acid. The only time you run int trouble with particles is when a user has run really cheap paper through that contained talc or clay used in the pressing process. That forms almost a cement in the spray nozzle. Even that can be fixed if you use your tube to blow it out. If not time to shop for a new printer as a replacement print head is several times replacement cost.
Your ible is on the Instructables facebook page!
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