How to Clean an HP Printhead Manually

Take a warm damp paper towel or coffee filter and blot the cartridge with the printhead facing down onto the paper towel. This will remove any dried ink on the printhead. Then, hold the cartridge with the printhead facing down against a dry paper towel for 2-3 minutes. A dry paper towel will wick the ink out.

Is your HP printer out of warranty and not printing black or color ink or printing blank pages? It may be time to manually clean the removable printhead. Before starting, confirm your printer is out of warranty by going to and entering your printer serial number. Only clean the printhead if your printer is out of warranty.

To clean the printhead, you will need a disposable container, a clean lint-free cloth, filtered or distilled hot water, disposable gloves, and paper towels. Prepare the container to soak the printhead by stacking paper towels 6.5 millimeters or one-quarter of an inch deep in the bottom of the disposable container. Pour the hot water into the container until it’s five centimeters or two inches deep and the paper towels are fully submerged.

Next, remove all ink cartridges from the printhead with the printer on. Open the ink cartridge access door and remove each cartridge by either pressing the tab on the front or by pushing in on the cartridge to release it and then remove it from the printer. Place the cartridges upside down on a paper towel. Do not leave ink cartridges outside the printer for more than 30 minutes.

With all cartridges removed, remove the printhead. Lift the printhead latch and then lift the printhead directly up and out of the printer. Dampen the clean lint-free cloth with the hot water without pressing into the nozzle area or forcing water into the printhead. Wipe away any excess ink and soak the printhead in the prepared container. Place the printhead in the disposable container so the nozzles rest on the paper towels. Soak the printhead for 10 minutes.

Remove the printhead and then set it on a paper towel with the nozzles facing up to dry for 15 minutes. To avoid damaging the printhead, do not use compressed air or a hairdryer to remove the water. With the printhead dry, reinstall the printhead and cartridges in the carriage. Reinstall each cartridge in their corresponding slots and press down or push in each cartridge until it clicks or snaps into place. With all cartridges installed, close the ink cartridge access door.

Clean the printhead using an automated cleaning tool. Load plain white paper into the input tray on the printer control panel. Navigate to and touch setup or press the setup button. Navigate to and touch tools or press the arrow button to display tools and then press ok. Touch clean printhead or press the arrow button to display clean printhead and then press ok. The automated cleaning tool cleans the printhead. Recycle the cleaning printout on your computer or mobile device.

Print a document. If the error persists, clean the printhead again from the printer control panel and then resume normal printing. By following these steps, you can manually clean the removable printhead on your HP printer and get it back to printing like new.


How do I get my HP printhead to auto clean?
Open the HP printer application and choose the “Clean Printhead” function. You may also be able to choose this option on your printer's touch screen. This should set the automatic cleaning process in motion. Wait until it is complete before attempting to use the printer.