After spending money on an inkjet printer, you'd probably like to keep it working well for a long time. Today's inkjet printers are generally quite resilient. Very little routine maintenance is needed. However, there are a few small exceptions. Two common issues can negatively impact the quality of the copies that are produced by your printer. Clogged ink cartridges and print heads result in streaked, inferior print jobs. These problems don't go away on their own. If you're experiencing either problem, don't worry: With a few simple steps, you can correct the problem and enjoy top-quality printing again.
Cleaning Printer Cartridges
If you don't print very regularly, a single ink cartridge will probably last for a very long period of time. Every few months or so, you're going to need to clean your printer's ink cartridges to keep them from becoming clogged and inefficient. This doesn't mean that you have to get out a cleaning cloth and clean them by hand. Your printer should be able to do all of the work for you. In fact, you probably won't even need to crack open the manual. Steps for cleaning a printer's ink cartridges are as follows:
- Navigate through your computer's start menu to the Printer & Faxes section.
- A list of your available printers should appear. Right-click on the appropriate one.
- Select the "Properties" option.
- Within the printer properties dialog box, you should find a section for cleaning options. Click over to that section.
- Look for an option that says something like "clean printer cartridges." Follow the step-by-step instructions.
- If you're unable to find an option for cleaning your printer's ink cartridges, use the software that was included with your computer. It should include such an option. If all else fails, consult the owner's manual for your inkjet printer.
Cleaning Print Heads
Before you can successfully clean the print head on your inkjet printer, you need to figure out where it is. In some cases, it is a part of the actual printer. The print head can't be removed easily, and it is prohibitively expensive to replace. In other cases, it might just be built right into the printer's ink cartridges. In that case, the quickest and easiest way to deal with a serious clogging issue is to simply replace the printer's ink cartridges.
As with cleaning the ink cartridges, there should be an option for cleaning your printer's print head. You should be able to find it within the same menu that is featured in the above step-by-step instructions. However, using the "clean print head" function may not be good enough. Step-by-step instructions for giving your printer's print head an extensive cleaning are as follows:
- Remove the ink cartridge.
- Pour five to 10 drops of isopropyl alcohol into the area where the ink cartridge normally goes.
- Replace the ink cartridge.
- Run the computer's "clean print head" function. You should also be able to find this option within the software that came with your printer.
- You will have to run the cleaning function several times, but it should result in a completely clean print head and clear, legible printing.
If it seems like you deal with clogged ink cartridges and print heads quite often, you might not be using your printer regularly enough. Set a reminder to print at least a few test pages a few times per week. If your printer isn't used often enough, the ink dries up and clogs its print head and its ink cartridges. If you refill your own ink cartridges, always run the "clean ink cartridges" function immediately after refilling them. With these tips in mind, your printer should produce top-notch results whenever you need them.