Epson Printer Head Cleaner Instructions

CAUTION: Contains ammonia. Harmful if swallowed. Avoid prolonged contact with skin or any contact with eyes. Do not mix with chlorine or cleaners containing chlorine. This can produce a poisonous gas. Do not allow contact with aluminum.

These instructions apply to Epson, Canon, Brother and other printers where the head is inaccessible in the printer. It does not apply to most HP and a few Canon or others where the head is in the cartridge or easily removed from the printer. It also does not apply to the Epson Workforce PRO series which use the extra large cartridges which resemble VCR tapes.

We provide the syringe with two pieces of tubing. One (transparent or with a green tinge) comes mounted and is approximately 3/16 of an inch, the other (black) is separate and is 1/4 of an inch. If you find the smaller one too tight or difficult to fit around the pin, remove it and use the other one. The tubing does not have to fit tightly on the printer. A gap is fine and even desired since when the tubing is tight, it becomes difficult to push down the plunger. Too much pressure on the printer head can damage it, so never force anything. I personally have no problem with either tubing but I find the wider one is easier to use. You only need a few drops of solution to reach the head so some spillage around the pin is normal and it will all evaporate.

Print a nozzle check and note which colors need cleaning. There is no reason to clean heads which are printing properly.

step 1 is if needed. Artisan and some Expression printers do not have a cartridge change mode since the cartridges are always available to be removed.

- Set the printer to the replace cartridge change mode.

- Remove all the ink cartridges from the printer and turn off the printer.

Some video instructions show putting paper towels under the cartridges. I have never done this and don't recommend it since paper lint can cause an even bigger clog.

Here are the video instructions for a similar and far more expensive product.

To draw solution into the tube, it should be inserted into the bottle below the level of the needle or syringe. If you just dip the tube into the bottle, it may not draw properly. You only need a few drops of solution. Don't try to fill the syringe. If you find the tube too long, you can either cut it down or remove it, draw up solution and then replace it.

For each color which is blocked:
- On Epson printers and printers where a pin punctures the cartridge, place the tube over the pin which punctures the cartridge and press down for as tight a seal as possible. For printers without a pin, just put a few drops of solution on the hole or "sponge" where the ink enters the printer. No pressure is used.

For Brother printers where the cartridges are inserted sideways you will want to prop the printer up on a book or something to tilt it so gravity is working on your side. You want the solution to drip down to the head.

- Carefully inject the cleaning solution into the pin using slight pressure. Avoid injecting air into the print head. Note that is normal for much of the solution to run out along the sides of the pin. Only a drop or two will get into the head. That is all you need.

- Repeat if other colors are blocked.

- Install the cartridges back into the printer.

- Do not turn the printer for at least 5-6 hours. Longer is better. If you must turn the printer on to install the cartridges, don't use it for at least 5 hours. This allows the solution to break down the clot and the ink to drip in.

- Turn the printer on (after waiting hours). Run the nozzle check. If it isn't good, run the built-in cleaning cycle and another nozzle check, looking for improvement. If there is no improvement after doing this twice, repeat all steps again. Some clogs may require multiple application of the cleaning fluid. You should not run it more than 3 times in succession. You may also want to give it more time to work. On a particularly stubborn printer, I gave it two days and it worked. A customer reported that the cleaning failed and he put the printer in his garage and bought another. Severals weeks later, he tried the one in the garage and it worked. (I'm sure it didn't take several weeks, probably just a few days.)

Alternate method: inject cleaning solution directly into the bottom of the cartridge where the printer punctured it and install the cartridge. Wait a few hours for the solution to work.

If all else fails, try this:
Push the plunger of the syringe all the way down, emptying it of air. Put the syringe over the pin of the color which is not working. Pull up on the plunger. This will suck air and the clog out of the printer. Do not push down again. That will only send it back into the printer. If there is gunk in the syringe, empty it into a toilet.

If there is no improvement after three or four cycles with the cleaning solution, your print head is not clogged - the head has burned out. Nothing short of replacement will correct it and replacement costs more than a new printer. You can read our article on the best printers to help make a decision.

Details about the kit

We first used a kit with a smooth tube which fit tightly over the syringe. The problem was that it fit too tightly. When inserted over the pin in the printer, the plunger could not be depressed. We went looking for a better tubing. We found tubing (green) with some striations (ribbing) inside. This prevented an overly tight fit and allowed some air or liquid to pass through. A few people complained that not all of the liquid was going into the heads. This is normal. It only takes a few drops. What spills out will evaporate.

However, because the tubing wasn't tight, sometimes the liquid would not be drawn up into the tube. We found that the best method was to leave the needle in place. The needle would then draw up the liquid and the tubing would help force most of it into the head. Another advantage of including the needle is so customer with refillable cartridges could also use it to inject ink into the cartridges. But people complained that they felt a needle was dangerous, particularly if they had children. So we went looking for a better solution.

We have since found a thicker (clear) tubing and a wider (black) which appears to work even without the needle. Remember it is the syringe which pulls up the solution - not the tubing. You must insert the syringe into the solution all the way past the tubing so that the tip of the syringe is submerged. After you pull up solution, some of it may drain out. That is fine. You only need a few drops.