Cleaning Clogged Print Heads Without Wasting Ink*

Most people that use ink jet printers sooner or later experience having a clogged print head; this is an especially common occurrence for people that go for days or weeks without using their printers. If you see banding or gaps appearing in your printed material, this frequently indicates that your printer's print head is clogged and needs to be cleaned (many printers include a software utility for verifying this).

If you have an ink jet printer, you already know that the cost of replacing ink cartridges is a major drawback to using ink jet printers -- the cost per page for the ink consumed often is more than double the cost per page for the toner that is used with a laser printer.

Unfortunately, this already relatively expensive situation with ink jet printers frequently is made much worse due to the ink that's consumed when it's necessary to clean the print head on your printer. In fact, many people consume between 10-25% of their cartridge's ink each time they need to clean their print heads!

One reason for this is that often the cleaning cycle needs to be repeated many times before the problem is fixed (sometimes even a dozen or more cleaning cycles may not resolve the problem), and each cleaning cycle consumes a significant amount of ink. However, if you are able to go for several hours without using the printer, there is a much more economical procedure you can try.

If several cleaning cycles doesn't resolve the problem, try waiting for several hours (with some printers, turning off the printer may help) -- even overnight -- before using the printer again. Next, try printing a test pattern or some material to see whether the problem has either disappeared or become less noticeable. If a problem remains, repeat these steps.

The reason this ink-saving procedure can work effectively is that sometimes the dried ink on the print head needs time to soften before the print head can be cleaned completely, and performing many repeated cleaning cycles before the dried ink softens just wastes ink! Some ink jet printers automatically go through a lite cleaning cycle when they are turned on, so if you don't use your printer every week, consider cycling it on/off about once a week to see if this reduces the occurrence of the problem.

*PrintMagic and WebPrint Plus can save you money by more than doubling the life of your ink cartridges.

© 2004 by Steve Becker. All rights reserved.

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