How to Use HP Printer Cleaning Cartridges

By Ryan Bauer

  • Overview

    Over time, the print head on your HP printer will get dirty. You can perform a routine cleaning of the head through the printer's Options window, but as time goes by, a film will likely build up on the head that this simple cleaning process won't be able to remove. At that point, it is time to use a printer-cleaning cartridge to help restore the head to like-new condition. Though you may have to look around for a while to find them, these cartridges can be purchased at many places that sell normal inkjet cartridges.
    A black HP printer-cleaning cartridge.
    • Step 1

      Remove the ink cartridge and replace it with an HP printer-cleaning cartridge. You can purchase a cleaning cartridge that replaces either the black cartridge or the color cartridge. Base your selection on the cartridge you are having the biggest problem with. If you are only having issues with printing in black and white, for example, you only need to use a black cleaning cartridge.
    • Step 2

      With the new cleaning cartridge in place, run the printer's head-cleaning procedure from the HP printer-configuration window. The exact location of this option will vary depending on your model of HP printer and the version of the software you are using. If you have problems finding this option, consult your printer's documentation. This process will likely take several minutes to complete, and will use several sheets of paper. You should see the clarity of the printing improve as the process progresses.

    • Step 3

      Print a test page to see how the cleaning process went. For a severely dirty print head, you may have to run this process two or even three times before the printing looks normal. If you are only using a black or a color cleaning cartridge, you may decide at this point that you need to use the other cartridge as well, to ensure that the entire printing system is clean.
    • Skill: Moderately Easy
    • Tip: It's helpful to print the exact same document before and after the cleaning process, to compare results side by side.
    • Tip: Save your cleaning cartridge in case you have to use it again in the future.

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