How to clean Epson printhead manually?


Last updated on January 17th, 2023

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You might need to learn how to clean Epson printhead manually if you experience constant problems with your prints.

If your prints are coming out incomplete, streaked, or faint, you might be dealing with a blocked or clogged Epson print head. Luckily, this issue is easily remedied with a little cleaning! 

This article discusses the common causes of ink clogs and how to manually clean print heads on Epson printers. Let’s get right into it! 


Why Does My Epson Printer Head Clog?

While clogging occurs in almost every printer imaginable, this issue happens particularly often on Epson printers. This isn’t due to lack of product quality—quite the opposite, in fact. 

Epson creates some of the smallest and most technologically advanced printers in the world. The nozzles on Epson printers are purposely small to increase printing quality. 

How to clean Epson printhead manually_different printheads
Epson Printheads

Unfortunately, the smaller the nozzle, the higher the risk of clogging. Thus, in exchange for high-quality prints, users will have to bear with the clogging issue. 

There are multiple reasons why printer heads get clogged. Clogging usually occurs when leftover ink in the print head nozzle dries, which therefore results in a noticeable drop in print quality. 

Here are some of the most common reasons for printer head clog: 

Infrequent Cartilage Use

Ink dries up when you don’t use it regularly. This is why manufacturers recommend that users run a nozzle check every two weeks and use the printer at least once or twice a month. 

Ink may also dry if you keep your printer on even after you’ve finished printing. Epson printers regularly perform mini cleaning cycles to keep the ink flowing for immediate use by filling the nozzle with ink. 

When left running, this process doesn’t stop. Due to this, always properly turn off your printer when you’ve finished using it to prevent excess ink.

If you don’t use your printer much, it’s best to purchase a laser printer as they use toner powder, which doesn’t dry up.

Failure to Change Low Ink Cartridge

Failure to change the ink cartridge when you receive a low ink warning also causes clogs as it leaves more ink residue after a printout. As soon as you receive a low ink warning, try to change the cartilage as soon as possible.


Clogs often occur during a process called priming, which usually happens when you replace an old cartridge with a new cartridge. 

During this process, your Epson printer “purges” ink through the nozzles to ensure color consistency and performance. 

However, there are times where the printer pushes out too much ink and excess ink smears all over the print head. The print head then gets clogged as the smear dries.

What Are the Best Ways to Manually Clean Epson Print Heads? 

For your convenience, most Epson printers, particularly the Epson Artisan, Workforce, and SureColor models, have a print head cleaning feature that clears the nozzles in just one or two cycles with just a click of a button. 

However, cleaning the printhead through this feature often consumes a lot of ink. To prevent unnecessary ink waste, here are two easy ways to clean your printhead manually:

Clean With Print Cleaner (or Distilled Water) and Syringe

Commercial printer head cleaner

Turn your printer off and carefully remove the ink head cartilage from its carriage. Once you do that, you’ll notice small cone-line indents called ink ports.

Fill a plastic syringe or eye dropper with a commercial print head cleaner and slowly pump the cleaning solution through the ink port. If you don’t have a commercial cleaner, use distilled water.

  • Repeat this process for each color cartridge.
  • Before returning or replacing the ink cartridge, wipe the print head with a soft towel or tissue paper.
  • Wait until the printer accepts the cartridge before testing the machine by printing out several pages with text and images.

Clean With Paper Towels

Paper towels for cleaning printer head
  • Open your printer and identify the rubber roller.
  • Next, secure a single sheet of half-inch wide paper towel onto the roller using tape.
  • Near the middle of the towel, apply a few drops of print cleaner or distilled water.
  • For at least fifteen minutes, move the print head assembly over the paper towel. This softens the dried or hardened ink that has clogged the print head.
  • Repeat the process with a fresh damp paper towel until individual colors appear from each ink port. Depending on the severity, you may need to use at least three to four fresh paper towels.
  • Turn your printer back on once you’re satisfied with the results. Print several pages to make sure the ink port is indeed clean.

Final Thoughts

We hope this article has helped you manually clean your Epson printer print heads! To prevent your printer head from clogging in the future, we recommend using your Epson printer at least once or twice every month. Also, always use genuine OEM cartridges by reputable brands!  

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Tommy S.

With more than ten years of experience in the field, I am an avid printing enthusiast who has been captivated by the realm of printing since a young age. The possibilities for creativity and innovation that it presents have always intrigued me.

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