How to clean a clogged stylus printer

Updated February 21, 2017

A common problem with inkjet printers is a clogged print head. A clogged print head disrupts the flow of ink onto paper, distorting the printout or leaving gaps. The print head becomes clogged when the excess ink dries, causing a blockage. The Epson Stylus printer was designed with a print head cleaning utility which clears the dried ink off the print head, allowing the ink to run freely through the print head.

Turn the printer on and verify that the low ink indicator is not blinking. If the indicator light is blinking, the printer cartridge needs to be changed before cleaning. Cleaning the print head uses ink. An empty ink cartridge will not properly clean the print head.

If you are using Windows, right-click the Epson Stylus printer icon on the taskbar of your computer and choose "Head Cleaning."

If you are using a Macintosh, click Applications > Epson Printer Utility3 > your Epson Stylus model number > OK > Head Cleaning.

Ensure the printer has paper installed and follow the onscreen directions to start the print head cleaning. The Power button indicator light will blink during cleaning. You will hear the printer operating. Cleaning is finished when the indicator light stops blinking.

Click Print Nozzle Check Pattern > Print. You will be able to see if the print head cleaning worked. The Stylus will print out a series of lines in a grid pattern. Check the grid pattern for any breaks in the lines and click "Finish" if there are no breaks.

Select "Clean" if the grid lines are broken to clean the print head a second time. Repeat the process if necessary. You can safely clean the print head up to four times if needed.


Allow the printer to sit for at least six hours if the print head is not cleaned after four tries. This allows hardened printer ink to soften. After six hours, repeat the cleaning process.

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About the Author

William Pullman is a freelance writer from New Jersey. He has written for a variety of online and offline media publications, including "The Daily Journal," "Ocular Surgery News," "Endocrine Today," radio, blogs and other various Internet platforms. Pullman holds a Master of Arts degree in Writing from Rowan University.