How to Recover a Dry Printer Head





Introduction: How to Recover a Dry Printer Head

About: I'm an Italian freelance structural engineer, graphic designer and photographer, and I'm teaching physics in Waldorf schools. I always investigate electronics, robotics and science in general, I'm a passiona...

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.

Step 1: 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

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

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.

Step 4: Dip Into Water

Set up a plastic flat cover with some millimeters of water. it is important you don't use ceramic plate, or anything else made from an hard material. This because the nozzles borders are ceramic and they break very easily. I know it because I've broke my old IP4200 printer head tapping it on the plate, don't ask me why... I asked myself it a lot of time! probably I didn't want to accept the more obvious reason
Put the stuff to soak for a while... The water will dissolve the dry ink. Meanwhile with the rubber tube try to suction some water from the plate into the nozzles. To do that you don't necessarily suck the tube, it's better you keep it in place, push the sides, close the open end, and let it sucks for you resuming the original shape. Now you can wait an hour, but if you have time you can leave it all the night.
At the rear side of the printer head, the contacts should be waterproof, but don't wet them too much.

Step 5: Dry the Head

When you have time to reinstall the head on the printer, dry it gently pushing it on a paper napkin, don't rub it, and let the water coming out for a few minutes. It's better use microfibre cloths, so they won't clog up the nozzles with fibers. You should see some coloured lines as in the picture, one for each nozzles line.

Step 6: Almost Done

The printer head is now clean, it still has some water inside, but don't worry about it.

Step 7: As Brand New!

Install back the head into place, close the lever, put the 5 cartridges on, close the printer and turn it off.
I've waited a few minutes now, because I think the ink need time to mixing up with the water inside the head nozzles.
When you turn on the printer again, probably it will want to make the nozzles cleaning, and its right ;-) if not tell it to do that. After the cleaning, which will waste a few quantity of ink, you'll can print the check sheet to verify that all the nozzles are clean and working!

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    92 Discussions


    I'm not sure if water is the best fluid to do this,
    since more and more ink is water resistent, and water can corrode
    contacts. I cannot wash ink of my hands with water and soap.

    i use Isopropyl alcohol. What also could help is filling empty
    cardridges with isopropyl alcohol and do a few cleanings with it, so it
    will flush the heads with it. The ink become thinner. Afterwards i
    replace the isopropanyl cardridges with the good ones and i print the
    test page a few times, so the stuff is out of it.

    Hi. I Need some help guys.
    I replaced the DX7 printheads on my Mutoh VJ1638 sublimation printer (due to end of life). I'm using Onyx Rip and sensient inks with them. New heads, after the installation, are printing much lighter than the original file. The profile, media and inks are all the same, but the colors are coming out much lighter and much less saturated. Red is coming our as pink etc. Tried everything but couldn't solve out the issue.
    Help and guidance will be much appreciated.

    Fahad Habib

    I soak the printhead of Epson L350 in water for 2-3 hours and let it dry overnight. The next day I put it back and power it on, it runs for a few minutes and suddenly power off. It won't power on anymore. Any idea what happen to my printer?

    i found this is easy fix . you may just need to do some adjustments to fix your printer head

    please just clean the print head carefully and make sure the ink is not dry and and follow

    this steps by step Guide to fix the Print Head Step by Step and this may help yo

    I was also facing same issue with my kodak printer I tried a lot to fix that at last I just visited and made a call on their toll free. I got great help from a certified technician to fix kodak printer only in a single call.

    1 reply

    look up the word: "SHILL" in a dictionary.


    1 year ago

    I just find the sponge where the printhead sits when in cleaning mode, soak it with windex, and clean the windex off it with a paper towel. I do that about 30 times, clean off the rubber "wiper", and the other sponge beside the main one. (both sponges, and rubber wiper on all the way on the right on an epson small in one) The the sponges get soaked with windex and the printhead pushed into place, and let to soak for about 20 minutes. This only gets done when I get tired of doing several cleaning cycles and it still doesn't print correctly. Its saved me from buying a new printer 3 times now.

    1 reply

    is English your first language ?

    Hello, here my video to show how i unclog my canon printhead!


    2 years ago

    it work!!!!!!!!!!!! thank u so much, i was ready to buy a new one .. but not anymore, and my printer is been sitting in a closet for 3 years ! it was so dried .. now it works perfect! thank you again!

    1 reply

    Hi - Before I explain - my Canon MP610 recovered from a print head overheat!:

    It suddenly stopped and showed error 5200 (print head overheat) in the middle of a crucial run. The flashing sequence of the LEDs indicated the same error. I tried new inks, reseating the head and finally cleaning the head by placing it on a shallow saucer and running a very gentle slow stream of water over the ink receiver gauze holes for about an hour. Even this did not resolve the error. So I went out and bought another printer - and duly completed the print job.

    HOWEVER, the next morning, just before I took it out to the garage, ready for disposal, I switched it on again - and it came straight back on again with no errors!

    So, maybe the procedure is: Clean the head thoroughly (carefully!), turn off and unplug the printer for a LONG time and try again before you chuck it out...

    1 reply

    Update: Less good news:

    It printed 3 pages, then I turned it off for a while (about 3 hours). When I turned it back on, the error code returned. Bah.

    However, it does suggest that the overheat error code CAN go away, and that when it does the printer CAN print normally again. It seems it's a matter of how that status is recorded and saved, how it occurred in the first place and what it really means...

    No! Don't use any oil-based product on the print head! IJ inks are water-based and WD40 - or any other lubricant - could terminally damage the heads.

    You can carefully clean them with water, but nothing else!

    Inkjet ink is water based. Since WD-40 is originally meant to keep water from electric cables (it's described on the can…) this will have the opposite effect.

    People, I know WW-40 has a reputation to be some kind of magic stuff, but really, it's not. It is bad for the environment so please use it sparsely, even though it's cheap. Also, always wash your hands after using it, it's poisonous.



    2 years ago

    I think this is a better to hand in the thing for repair. Or even to buy a new printhead (even some no-name European stores have many print-heads, like, not to mention Amazon or eBay). Unfortunately, manufacturers usually decrease the amount of ink left in the cartridge (their software doesn't calculate it correctly). I had an ink-jet printer myself several years ago, and it was painful to clean the print-head and replace the cartridge. So I wouldn't do that again)

    Well i have the same printer (ip4700) and since one month im
    struggling with the jellow color cloged nozzle .....

    Tried almost

    1)soaked for 2 weeks
    in a solution of distilled water and cleaning solution for printer plus some
    isopropylic alcool.....

    2)unscrew the screws
    and opened the head, took off and cleaned the rubber at the bottom

    3)tried to flush
    water in the nozzles using small rubber tubes like in the pictures

    Nothing.... the
    jellow nozzle still clogged............ any idea how to clean?



    Before i throw my printer out the window... I hadnt used my printer for a few months but it had cartridges that were about half full, i went to print just some black text and it only printed a tiny bit, not full lines. So i head cleaned via the 'maintenance' and retested, no better, ended up doing that about 10 times, then my ink ran out, so i changed the cartridges, tried again, was the same so ended up doing clean - print another 10 times, still no change. And now used 1/.2 the ink, so today i tried again, cleaned the head with a cotton bud - tried printing just black about 10 times, no change, some text got a bit better, but then nothing again, and now all the ink is low, including the colour one which ive not even used today, so right now im confused and peed off with it as i really needed to print something, so wheres the ink going if its not even printing?, baffled.!