How to Clean Epson Printhead Manually

Old 9-pin and 24-pin dot matrix printer printheads

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If your Epson printer produces faint or incomplete prints, it can be due to several reasons, such as clogged nozzles or a blocked printhead. Printer maintenance is essential to maintaining high-quality prints, but this is not as much work as you may imagine. 

Maintenance includes paying attention to the printhead that carries the ink cartridges, as the printer nozzle can get clogged if the Epson ink dries out. Drying out can occur if ink cartridges are not changed when you receive a low ink warning, if you never turn off your printer (which causes the ink to dry up in the nozzles) or if the printer isn’t used regularly. 

If the problem arises, it can be resolved by cleaning the printhead thoroughly. While many printers can automatically clean printheads, the problems may persist. In that case, it’s essential to know how to clean an Epson printhead manually.  

Signs That You Need to Clean Your Epson Printhead

A common sign is when the printer has normal ink levels but is printing blank pages. Ink cartridges may dry out if left unused, which clogs the printhead and prevents ink from passing on to the paper. Another indication is faded or blurry documents that don’t reach the usual print standard, and images may be lacking one color entirely.

If either of these things occurs, it may be time to give your Epson printhead a deep cleaning. 

Epson Inkjet Printer and Ink Supplies

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What Is CMYK?

CMYK refers to cyan, magenta, yellow and key (often black) ink colors. This combination creates a broad range of colors when the printer layers tiny dots in numerous formations. Each nozzle produces one of the four colors, so, if one nozzle is blocked, it prevents the printer from delivering the right colors.  

Cleaning the printhead can boost the quality of the dot distribution, but this should preferably be done only when the print quality has already decreased slightly, as the process consumes quite a lot of ink. Manual cleaning requires you to check the nozzles to determine whether you need to clean out clogs there first, as doing so is also one way to find out how to get more ink out of your cartridge

Performing the Nozzle Check

You can either check the nozzles via the printer’s control panel on the printer itself or from your computer’s utility settings. 

  • From the Control Panel on the Printer

Go to the maintenance screen (usually through the setup page), select Print Head Nozzle Check, and the printer will print a CMYK color chart consisting of lines. If these are spotty and contain gaps, the printhead requires cleaning. 

  • From Your Computer’s Utility Settings

Open Printers & Scanners (usually through System Preferences or Settings), select your printer model and click Printer Utility. Select Nozzle Check and check for spots and gaps in the color line. 

Most printers have cleaning functions similar to the Epson printer, so, if you are considering how to clean Epson vs. HP printers, these instructions may apply more broadly. If the low ink light is blinking, no nozzle check is required. This light simply means the cartridge needs replacing because you’re out of ink. 

If there is no ink light, you can start the cleaning process by holding down the ink button for three seconds. The ink and power lights begin flashing as the printer starts the cleaning process. To avoid damaging your printer, do not switch it off. Perform a nozzle check again to ensure that the printhead is now clean. If not, you can repeat the process, but leave the printer overnight for the ink to settle.

Steps to Clean Your Epson Printhead Manually

If these steps fail, you’ll have to clean your Epson printhead manually. To do this, you’ll need water and some paper towels or a lint-free cloth. 

  1. Ensure the printer is switched off and the plug is removed from the socket. This step is to avoid damaging the components or injuring yourself. 
  2. Open the printer and remove the cartridges. 
  3. The printhead unit is the tray the cartridges were in. It has several holes in the bottom. 
  4. Lightly moisten the cloth or paper towel with water and gently brush it over the foil electrical contact area until there is no ink on the cloth. 
  5. Remove any dried ink fragments from the printhead contacts, edges and ramps, and clean the electrical contacts inside the printer. 
  6. If you have removed the printhead unit, soak it in a shallow bowl of water for five minutes to loosen dried ink around the nozzles. Wipe the printhead with a paper towel to eliminate any remaining ink and dampness. Ensure it is thoroughly dry before reinserting it into the printer. 
  7. Put everything back in its place. Reconnect the printer and turn it on. Perform another nozzle check to assess the print quality. 

Get High-Quality Prints with a Clean Printhead

Epson is renowned for its premium printers and vibrant prints, but, if the printhead becomes clogged, your print job may not have the same quality as before, and it may cause long-term damage to the printer. Following these simple steps will ensure that your Epson printhead is clean and your printouts are crisp and clear.  

To keep your printhead operating smoothly, use only the best quality inks. InkJetSuperStore carries a huge range of original and remanufactured ink cartridges from Epson and other big printer brands. Explore our selection online, or contact us via email, live chat or phone if you have any questions about our products.