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Difficulty Easy
Steps 8
Time Required 10-20 minutes
Tools Needed

The best all-in-one printers often serve as great solutions for home office workers. But, even with the best printers, there are some common issues to keep an eye out for if things go wrong. In this article, we’ll explain how to clean printer nozzles and give you some tips on keeping them from dirtying.


  • Clean printer heads and ink cartridges by using the device’s cleaning cycle or manually removing and cleaning.
  • Access the cleaning cycle through the printer’s maintenance menu, or go onto the printer application software downloaded to your computer.
  • To clean manually, remove the print heads and soak them in a mixture of water and isopropyl alcohol.

For more helpful info on printer-related issues, check out our other resources, such as our comparison of printer toner vs ink or how to repair a wireless all-in-one printer. Additionally, if you’re in the market for a new printer and want to explore the various types, we have a guide on ink tank printers.

Insider Tip

Try using your printer at least once every two weeks to reduce the likelihood of clogged print heads.

How to Clean an All-In-One Printer

If you went to fetch a document from the tray and noticed your printer isn’t printing true colors, you may have a clogged printer nozzle. A blocked nozzle may also cause the ink to look smudged, and there may be missing colors or text; it may even stop working altogether.

Some printers come with a built-in cleaning cycle to fix this. But for older printers, you may have to take the printer cartridge out and clean it yourself. Don’t worry; you don’t need to know how to disassemble a printer to accomplish this task. In fact, the process is quick and painless.

But remember that the process will vary depending on your printer model, so the below steps will give a general explanation of print head cleaning.

Also, if you’re continuously facing printer issues and think it’s time to get a new device, check out our guide explaining how to dispose of an old printer.

Find Your Printers Cleaning Cycle

STEP 1 Enter Your Printer Maintenance Settings

Most printers will have a “Menu” button. Press this and select the “Maintenence” option.

STEP 2 Turn on the Cleaning Cycle

Find the option that says “Cleaning” and press OK. Some printers don’t have a cleaning function built into the device, but the downloadable computer software will provide the cleaning option.

STEP 3 Turn on Cleaning Cycle via Computer Software (If Necessary)

To find the cleaning option, enter the computer’s control panel and find your printer application software. Then, search the settings to see if a print function is provided.

STEP 4 Test for Print Quality

Run a print check and look for any smudges, missing text, colors, or discoloration. You may need to clean the ink cartridges manually if there are still issues.

Manually Clean the Print Nozzle

STEP 1 Locate the Ink Cartridges and Print Head

Open the access panel to the printer’s ink cartridges. Depending on the type of printer model, you may have to remove a separate printer head that holds the cartridges in place.

STEP 2 Remove the Cartridges/Print Head

Remove the cartridges and do a nozzle check to see if there is dried ink or debris. For printers with a separate print head, remove all the cartridges, set them aside, and then remove the print head. Then do a nozzle check on the printer head.

STEP 3 Create a Soak for the Print Head

Create a mixture of 50% water and 50% isopropyl alcohol in a plate or bowl. Use just enough to submerge the bottom of the print head(s). Let the print head soak for about 2 minutes.

STEP 4 Dry and Reinstall the Print Head/ Cartridges

Begin dabbing the print head against some paper towels. Continue drying the head with paper towels until it’s fully dry. Then, reinsert the print head and cartridges.

STEP 5 Test for Print Quality

Run a print test to identify any remaining issues with the print quality.


To avoid staining your hands with ink, wear rubber gloves whenever handling the printer head or ink cartridge.

STAT: All-in-one printers either come with four separate cartridges connected to a printer head or two cartridges (one black and one tri-color) that have the print head integrated into the cartridge. (source)

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How to Clean Printer Nozzles FAQs

Does cleaning the printer head increase the unit’s efficiency?

Performing regular printer head cleanings will increase efficiency and enhance print quality.

How often should I clean my printer heads?

If you don’t use your printer regularly, consider running the cleaning function once every couple of weeks. Run a few prints every month if your unit has no cleaning function.

What does the cleaning cycle do?

The printer’s cleaning cycle pushes through a strong ink flow through the small holes to free it of any obstruction.