How to Clean Printer Cartridge

Nothing is more frustrating than your printer not working correctly. Your work doesn’t look as good with ink smudges. Also, you might notice inconsistent ink output in your printouts. If it is worse, your printer might not print at all. If this is your case, you need to clean printer cartridges properly. This article explains how to clean printer cartridges correctly.

Printer cartridges often fail when you take out your ink cartridges and expose them to air. Again, if you have not used your printer in a few months, you might experience clogged cartridges. Luckily, you can clean clogged ink cartridges and restore their clean, crisp printing, similar to the first time you installed them.

3 Steps to Clean Printer Cartridge

1. Remove The Cartridges from the Printer

Before touching the printer, put on a pair of latex gloves to avoid touching ink. Because ink can spill everywhere as you clean, it can be challenging to clean off your hands.

Suppose you have a latex allergy, no worries. Instead, you can use either vinyl or rubber gloves. It is better to have several gloves pairs at hand for the fast cleaning process.

Unplug the Printer from Power Outlet Before Opening It

Ensure your printer is completely unplugged from the power outlet to avoid risk. On the contrary, some printer models will not allow you to change ink with a printer not connected to the wall outlet. If this is your case, lift the printer cover to remove the cartridges.

Unplug the printer for the next step. However, don’t force the cartridges out; if you unplug your printer, open it and find you can’t remove the cartridges. Forcing the cartridges out can damage your printer inside.

Open the Printer to Take Out the Cartridges

In many printers, ink cartridges are near the printer’s front side. With this, you should lookout for a flap directly above where the paper sits. Lift the flap, and look out for two cartridges off to one side of the printer.

Tip: do not be forceful as you open the printer since the flap should lift easily.

Gently Remove the Cartridges One-by-One

To detach the cartridges from the holder, pull them down on the top of each cartridge. The cartridges fit snuggly into their holders; to loosen them up, sometimes you need to wiggle them a bit. Then, individually pull them out of the printer.

Tip: If you are too rough, you could damage the cartridges themselves or where they are stored. Again avoid touching the cartridge metal part with your bare hands. Your hands contain natural oils, damaging the cartridges affecting their clarity.

2. Wash the Ink Cartridges Thoroughly

Using a Paper Towel, Wipe the Outside of the Cartridges;

Fold a paper towel in fourths. Gently pour isopropyl alcohol caps worth. To remove ink build-up, rub the towel gently along the back and underside of the cartridges. Rub the cartridges thoroughly to ensure you’ve gotten rid of extra ink. It’s important to note you should not use isopropyl alcohol if your printer ink cartridges have a rubber gasket around the connection point since it will cause damage.

Tip: if you notice excess ink, check where the cartridge sits; most probably, there is ink. Also, before you put the cartridges back, rub some isopropyl alcohol around its storage space. To ensure no ink is around there.

Using a Wet Cotton Swab, Clean the Print Head

The area covering the cartridge itself is the print head—using lukewarm water and a cotton swab, run it gently along with the print head.

To ensure thorough cleaning, go over the print head multiple times with the cotton end. Use distilled water if you are worried about mineral deposits from your tap water. You can order online or buy some from your local grocery to get mineral water.

Wash the Colored Circuitry Strip Using a Different Wet Cotton Swab

To get this strip,

  • Check on the ink cartridge backside.
  • Use a few drops of water to dampen the cotton swab and clean the circuitry delicately.
  • As you do this, guide the swab over it back and forth. To ensure its cleaned thoroughly, go over the strip 3 to 4 times.

Dry the Excess Water in the Cartridges and Allow Them to Dry

To ensure the cartridges are completely dry, take a clean, dry cotton swab; wipe the circuitry and the print head. Allow the cartridges to sit for 15 minutes on a clean, dry paper towel. Meanwhile, place the circuitry facing up as you allow them to dry.

3. Get the Cartridges Back to the Printer

Get the Cartridges Back into Their Holders

After the cartridges are completely dry, it’s now time to stick them back to their spots. Press the cartridges down while pushing slightly to get them back into their holders. To ensure the cartridges are in place, fix them until you hear a clicking sound.

To check if they are in the proper place and not loose, wiggle your index finger and thumb. Check to see the cartridges fit snuggly into their holders.

Close the Printer and Plug It Back

After you are through,

  • Pull down the printer cover and plug in the machine.
  • Put the printer on and allow it a few seconds to boot up.
  • Take this time to see if the printer is in order; don’t assume the printer is working correctly.

Print a Document to Test Its Working

To check if all the cartridges are running smoothly, make the document black and white and another part of it color. Instead of filling the whole page with words or images, you can type a few sentences. Using the same paper, copy and paste your previous sentences on another section, highlight them in different colors, and print to test how solid and bright the ink color looks.

Pro Tips


If your cartridges have stubborn blockages, soak them in warm water for several hours. Soaking will help loosen the block making it easy to wipe clean. Again, if the ink is flowing to the print head, apply some isopropyl alcohol droplets to the ink cartridge connection point. Install the ink and perform self-cleaning utility.


If the cleaning process doesn’t fix the ink blockage, you need to replace the whole ink cartridge system. However, this should fix the blockage unless the printer is damaged internally. Again, consider contacting the printer manufacturer for more information.

Some printers have hidden maintenance mode, featuring a heavy cleaning utility that can handle the problem. Where applicable, the manufacturer’s technical support will guide you through the process. Unfortunately, if nothing works, you will need to organize professional maintenance or replace the printer.

Preventing Blockages

The best solution to a problem is never letting it happen. So, to avoid future problems, you need to take proper care of your printer. When the printer is not in use for some days, turn off the printer but don’t unplug. Some printers perform cleaning programs even when off to avoid ink drying.

Please turn off the printer using its power button rather than turning it off from the power strip; the printer needs to lock the ink and print heads properly when shutting down.


To achieve good printing performance, it is always good to refer to your printer model manufacturer’s website to clean ink cartridges for your specific model. This article has general tips on two ink cartridge printer cleaning.

It’s important to note you should only use de-ionized water or isopropyl alcohol to clean or wipe the ink cartridges. This article also includes some tips in case manual cleaning doesn’t help.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *