How do I clean the print head, and how often should it be done?

HP colour later printerHP colour later printer

Print head cleans are only necessary on inkjet printers. Each manufacturer has a different means of performing this, but generally it is done from either the printer or the software on the PC / laptop. The print head clean is required when print quality deteriorates. This may be due to lack of printing or a blockage. Print head cleans work by forcing ink through the nozzles of the print head in order to clear the way for the ink to pass. Be aware that this will use up a certain amount of ink, and in the case of severe blockages it may be necessary to repeat the process 5 – 6 times before satisfactory results are achieved.


  1. Start button on your PC or laptop (all screenshots are from a Windows 7 PC).
  2. Double click on Devices and Printers.
  3. Select relevant printer by double clicking.
  4. Find Utilities/Maintenance/Cleaning – this differs depending on the manufacturer.
  5. At this point you can print a test page to see the extent of the problem or go straight into a Nozzle or Head Clean. Once this has been completed print a test page to see how much the print quality has improved. Repeat the process as many times as necessary. If you still have poor results after 5 or 6 head cleans it is worth bringing the printer to us for professional attention.
  6. Many Canon printers have a removable print head which can be professionally cleaned. Bring it to us for proper care and attention.

If you are not regularly printing, at least once per fortnight, it is likely be necessary to perform a print head clean more often. There are no hard and fast rules about how often the print head should be cleaned, but lack of use contributes to blockages and poor quality print. We recommend that something should be printed at least every 2-3 weeks to maintain optimum print quality.

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