How to Unclog Ink Cartridge

If you’ve used a printer for some time, you’ve probably had to deal with an ink clog. It can be frustrating when your printer stops working correctly, and it seems like nothing is going right.

No worries, there are simple ways to unclog ink cartridges independently. 

In this article, you will learn how to unclog an ink cartridge. Manually or automatically, depending on your printer model.

How Do Unclog Ink Cartridges Manually?

You can clean your printer cartridges manually to restore a clean and crisp printing quality. Similar to a new printer. Among many methods, we have highlighted four successful tips you can use.

Using Distilled Water

The best way to unclog an ink cartridge is to use distilled water.

  • Get the ink cartridge out of the printer.
  • Soak it in a bowl of distilled water for about 30 minutes. 
  • After that, you can put the ink cartridge back into the printer, and it should work properly again.

If you have severe clogs, you may need to repeat this process several times. Please note that distilled water is recommended since it doesn’t contain calcium or other contaminants. They could damage the print head or affect its long-term performance.

Use Compressed Air

If your printer ink cartridges are clogged, you can try to unclog them by using compressed air. Then you can find cans of compressed air in most office supply stores. But, you must read the instructions on the can to use it properly.

  • To spray hold the compressed air can upside down 
  • Spray the nozzle directly into the ink cartridge 

You should see the ink start to flow out of the cartridge. If it does not, you may need to repeat this process a few times. Once the ink starts flowing, you should be able to print again without any problems.

Use a Toothpick

If your printer starts acting up and you think it might be due to a clog, there’s an easy way to fix it using a toothpick.

  • Turning off your printer 
  • Unplug it from the power source.
  • Remove the ink cartridge that you think is clogged and set it on a paper towel.
  • Dip the end of a toothpick in some hot water and then insert it into the ink cartridge nozzle.
  • Gently move the toothpick around until the ink flows out of the nozzle. 

Once that happens, put the ink cartridge back in your printer and turn it on. Your printer should be good as new!

If you find that your printer is still acting up, it might be time to call in a professional. But unclogging an ink cartridge is a pretty easy fix.

Use a Rubbing Alcohol

To start, remove the ink cartridges from your printer. Most printers will have some release lever or button that you can press to do this. Once they are out, look for the nozzles at the bottom of the cartridges.

You should see some small holes where the ink comes out. If these holes are clogged, dip a cotton swab in some rubbing alcohol and gently dab it on the holes. You may need to do this a few times to clear the holes completely.

Once the holes are clear, get the ink cartridges back into your printer and try printing. Your printer should now be working correctly!

Use Your Printer Manufacturers Guide

Printer Manufacturer Guide

Printers are different, and so are their cleaning procedures. Please follow the procedure below to clean your Epson, HP and Canon printers

How to Unclog Ink Cartridges: Epson?

Unclogging Epson Ink Cartridges

You might need to unclog your Epson ink cartridges if you notice missing colors in your prints or severe streaking. Also, you can print a “nozzle check” sheet from your printer’s maintenance or tools menu or driver “options” menu.

  1. Shut down the printer and unplug it from the power outlet.

2. Wait for the printer to cool down before proceeding.

3. Carefully remove your printer ink cartridges

4. Check to see if any dirt or debris is blocking the ink ports on the cartridge. If there is, clean it out using a cotton swab dipped in alcohol.

5. Reinstall the ink cartridge into the printer.

6. Plug in the printer and turn it on.

7. Run text printing. If the issue persists, repeat the above steps one through six.

If you’re still having trouble after following these steps, it’s possible that your ink cartridge is defective and will need to be replaced. We recommend contacting Epson customer support for further assistance.

How to Unclog Ink Cartridge: HP?

Unclogging HP Ink Cartridges

Typically, the HP printer uses color and black cartridges to print professional-quality photos and documents. Sometimes, ink might dry in the cartridges. More so if you leave the printer used for a long time.

To remove the ink clogs, HP recommends that you remove the clogged ink cartridges and use a damp cloth to wipe off the dried ink. 

After manual ink cartridge cleaning, your printer will perform an automatic cleaning cycle to remove the remaining debris.

To run your printer self-cleaning, kindly follow the steps below;


  • Connect your printer to the power source and open the lid to move the printer ink cartridges to the printer’s center. Unplug your printer from the electrical outlet when it’s halfway through printing.
  • Press the tabs on the front and back of the color ink cartridge and lift it out of your printer.
  • Moisten a clean, soft cloth with distilled water.
  • Wipe the copper-colored circuit on the back of the ink cartridge.
  • Please be careful and wipe with an upward motion. Don’t touch the nozzle plate or the nozzle end.
  • Remove all the moisture with a separate dry cloth.
  • Use a damp cloth to wipe the copper strip and electrical contacts inside the ink cartridge cradle.
  • Remove any dry ink from your printer cartridge nozzle using a damp cloth, holding it from the back or cap.
  • Put the cleaned ink cartridge back into the printer and press it down to properly lock it.
  • Repeat the process with the other printer cartridges if need be.
  • Close the lid, re-connect it to a power outlet, and turn the printer on.

Typically, the HP printer manager window opens, and the printer adjusts the ink cartridges as it goes through a start-up sequence.

Print a test page. Select printer settings and maintenance, click on maintenance, and “clean print cartridges from your HP manager windows.” Your printer will run a test sequence and perform cartridge cleaning before printing the test page.

How to Unclog Ink Cartridges- Canon?

Unclogging Canon Ink Cartridges

Try this method if your canon printer has a stubborn clog. Before starting, ensure your printer has enough ink supply in the cartridges since it’s ink-consuming.

  • First, print a nozzle check paper to ensure your printer is clogged.
  • Get a cleaning solution from your printer package, buy it online, or make your own to clean the printer. To make your own, mix isopropyl alcohol and distilled water in a ratio of 1:1. 
  • Besides, have a large tray to hold the print head and a clean, lint-free cotton cloth.
  • Fill your tray with enough cleaning solution to cover the entire print head.
  • Remove the printer ink cartridges.
  • Raise the gray bar to get the print head and remove it
  • Please be careful not to touch the print head located at the bottom of the plastic housing. And also, the contacts at the backside of the print head
  • Place the print head into the water bath gently and allow it to sit for about 30 minutes (please note to use a non-corrosive cleaner)
  • Remove the print head from the cleaning solution and pat it dry gently using a lint dry cotton cloth. Please don’t rub; instead, pat dry to absorb the excess cleaning solution
  • Put the print head back into the printer and press it down into the gray bar.
  • Put the printer cartridges back and close the cover
  • Dispose of your used cleaning solution.
  • Print a nozzle check page. Hopefully, this time, you’ll get better results.
  • If your printer problem persists, repeat the process until you are certified.
  • If the problem persists, contact your printer manufacturer for more help.


Nothing frustrates like a clogged printer cartridge, especially when you need it most. You try to print your work report only to get blank pages or blurry documents. But please, it’s not yet time to rush to your nearest store to get new cartridges. 

You only need to know a few tricks for unclogging ink cartridges, and all will be well. 

You can use distilled water, compressed air, a toothpick, or rubbing alcohol, or follow your printer manufacturer’s instructions on how to unclog your printer. 

Hopefully, your problem is resolved. If not, you may get professional help or replace the cartridges. 

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