How to Unclog a 3D Printer Nozzle

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Updated March 21, 2023

Buying the best 3D printer doesn’t mean everything will turn out the best. You’ll need to know how to unclog a 3D printer nozzle, even with the best printers. To do this, you can use a small object, like a pin, or a bristled brush to remove the clogged filament. For more serious clogs, you can perform a procedure called a cold pull, where you heat the nozzle and insert a nylon string; then, after letting it cool, you can pull it out.


  • FDM printers are the most likely type of 3D printer to suffer from clogging.
  • Certain types of print filament, like PLA, clog easier than others.
  • A small object to dislodge debris is best for a partial clog, but more extensive measures, like a cold pull, may be necessary to eliminate a complete clog.

For more advice on maintaining and setting up your 3D printer, dive into some of our other resources. For example, we have guides on how to calibrate a 3D printer and ventilate a 3D printer. We also have explainer articles, such as what a 3D printer’s extruder does.

Insider Tip

There are specific cleaning filaments available that are used for cleaning a 3D printer’s system.

How to Clear a Clogged 3D Printer Nozzle

A clogged nozzle is a common issue among FDM 3D printers, and there are many reasons for this. For example, the filament might be dirty, the temperature of the heated nozzle may be off, or the filament could be stripping in the extruder.

Whatever the case, this can cause the filament to glob up and get caught, preventing any more material from coming out. However, troubleshooting this issue is often very simple, but you must be careful not to damage the printer during the process. There are also multiple ways to go about this, depending on whether you have a full or partial clog.

For partial clogs, a small pointy object should work to remove any buildup in the nozzle, like a needle, wire brush, or tweezers. You can also try soaking your printer nozzle in a chemical like acetone.

However, for a more serious clog, you may need to incorporate a method known as a cold pull. A cold pull is when you heat the nozzle to soften the clogged filament and push in a nylon thread. Because the nylon thread has a higher melting point than most FDM printer filaments, when it’s pushed in and cooled down, you can pull the nylon out, along with the clog.

If you finish this and would like to learn more, we have additional resources on transporting 3D printers and tips on how to print with PVA filament. Lastly, if you need help getting creative, we have an entire guide dedicated to exploring what you can make with 3D printers.

Use a Small Object (Best for Solving Partial Clogs)

STEP 1 Check for Clog

Look into the end of the nozzle to confirm you have a clog.

STEP 2 Clear Debris

Take a small needle, pin, or bristled brush and place it in the nozzle. Move it around to dislodge any clogged debris.

Perform a Cold Pull (Best for Solving Full Clogs)

STEP 1 Prepare the Nozzle

Detach the Bowden tube from the extruder and heat the nozzle to the typical printing temperature.

STEP 2 Place in Cold Pull Filament

Begin to push your cold pull filament into the nozzle. Keep going until you can feel the filament pushing through the clog. Then, turn the temperature of the hot end off while still pushing through the cold pull.

STEP 3 Remove the Clog

After the nozzle has cooled, crank the heat back up to print temperature and pull out your strand of a cold pull until the clog is removed. Repeat the process if the clog remains stuck.


Print materials with additives to help with abrasion, like wood-filled PLA, are more likely to cause clogging issues.

Soak Your Printer Nozzle

STEP 1 Remove the Nozzle

Disengage the nozzle from the printer head.

STEP 2 Soak for 24 Hours

Place the nozzle into a tub of acetone and let it sit for 24 hours. Make sure to youse gloves and eye protection when working with the chemical.

STAT: PLA is biodegradable, but it takes 80 years to decompose fully. (source)

After the nozzle is soaked, use a tool like a brush to clean off any remaining filament bits. Then wash the nizzle and reattach it to the printer.

How to Unclog a 3D Printer Nozzle FAQs

What type of printer filament gets caught the easiest?

PLA filament is known to get caught more than ABS or PVA because it requires a lower temperature during the layering process.

What type of FDM printer is the best for reducing clogs?

Using a direct feed extruder is the best for avoiding clogs. However, clogs can still occur even when using this style.

How often does a 3D printer nozzle need to be cleaned?

The best practice is to clean the nozzle before every print job.
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