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How to Clean the Print Head of an Epson Printer

Updated March 23, 2017

A print head is the part of the printer that is responsible for printing the ink onto the paper. When your printed pages aren't coming out quite right on your Epson printer (such as missing lines or a spotty printout), chances are that it is a problem with the print head. It may need to be unclogged. It's important to note that the print head is extremely delicate and can be damaged easily. Once your print head is damaged, it's probably time to just buy a new machine, because the cost of repair and replacement will probably exceed the cost of another printer.

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  1. Switch on the printer and be sure that it is connected to your computer. Insert a couple of pieces of paper into the printer.

  2. Go to the Control Panel and click on "Printers and Faxes." Right-click the Epson printer that you need to clean and go to "Printing Preferences." Select the "Maintenance" or "Head Cleaning" tab. (You can find the printer under the "Applications" folder if you're using a Mac.)

  3. Select the option for a "Head Cleaning." Perform the actions requested by the Epson wizard in order to start the cleaning. Your printer will start working and then the cleaning process will begin. Do not play with the printer while it is cleaning and don't attempt to print anything while the print head is being cleaned.

  4. When the cleaning is complete, select "Print Nozzle Check" under your printing preferences dialogue box and then "Print." After the print heads are cleaned, the results of this printout will help you gauge whether the cleaning helped or not. If the lines on the printout are broken, then there is still a problem. But if it prints solid, then you're done. Redo the print head cleaning process if the lines on your nozzle check printout have gaps.

  5. Tip

    After a cleaning, it might help to switch off the printer and wait 24 hours for the ink on the print head to soften. Then do another cleaning the next day. Many print head problems are caused by using the wrong ink in your Epson printer, including third party (non-Epson) inks for refilling cartridges.


    Every time that you clean the print head, a good amount of ink is being used, so be conservative about the number of head cleanings you do regularly. You generally cannot do a print head cleaning if you are out of or low on ink.

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About the Author

Louise Balle has been writing Web articles since 2004, covering everything from business promotion to topics on beauty. Her work can be found on various websites. She has a small-business background and experience as a layout and graphics designer for Web and book projects.

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