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How To Unclog An Inkjet Printing Nozzle

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Inkjet printers tend to provide high-quality, vibrant colors for documents and photos, but they can also encounter problems due to daily wear and tear. If you notice streaks, missing lines, or incorrect colors each time you send a printing job to your machine, it's possible that one or more of the inkjet nozzles is clogged with ink. Here's how to troubleshoot your machine before you call for professional printer repair services.

What Causes Clogs?

It may surprise you that the cause of the clogged nozzle could simply be an infrequent use of the printer. If you only use your color printer a few times a month, the ink could be sitting in the nozzle, clumping up and drying out.

The cause could also be low-quality ink cartridges. Some companies sell off-brand cartridge replacements that leak or don't fit properly. You don't always have to buy name-brand ink, but do your homework to purchase ink cartridges with good reviews that fit your specific model of printer. Serious leak issues could lead to needing major printer repairs, so don't just buy whatever is cheapest.

Run the Printer's Nozzle Cleaning Feature

Many modern printers let you select a nozzle cleaning feature from the electronic menu. Run this feature, which should only take a few minutes, and the printer will automatically do an initial cleaning of the inkjet nozzles. Then, print a test page. You may want to repeat the process once or twice. Sometimes, this maintenance will remove a clog, but if you still see missing dots or streaks, then the nozzle will require manual cleaning.

Use Cleaning Solution to Unclog the Nozzle

If you feel comfortable disassembling part of your printer, then you can attempt to clean the inkjet nozzles yourself, but remember that professional printer repair services are available if this task seems intimidating.

You'll need:

  • Paper towels
  • A syringe
  • Printer cleaning solution
  • A thin tube that fits around the nozzle, such as the kind of tubing that is used in many home aquariums

The first step is to access your inkjet nozzles. You may need to unplug the printer's power in the middle of a job to make sure the nozzles are in the middle of the printer and accessible.

Then, carefully remove all the ink cartridges. Clean up any leaks or spills you see with a paper towel. You should also fold a paper towel enough times that it will fit underneath the nozzles to absorb ink while you clean it.

Next, prepare your syringe with a small amount of cleaning solution. You can also use warm water. Connect one side of the tubing to the syringe, and place the other side over the inkjet nozzle that is clogged. Slowly, pump the cleaning solution from the syringe into the nozzle. The pressure should help remove any clogs, and the paper towel you put under the nozzles will soak up the cleaning solution and ink.

Clean up any spills and reassemble your printer. You should then try printing another test page. Hopefully, this helps restore the full functionality of your printer. But if you still struggle with the ink coming out unevenly, then a quick call to a printer repair provider should be able to help.