How to Clean An HP Printhead

When your HP Printer’s Printhead is not properly cleaned, many issues can arise.  Some of these issues include: poor print quality (both black & white and color), smears and streaks on the printout, or the ink appears to be faint.

These problems commonly occur when you do not clean the printhead for quite some time.  HP recommends cleaning the printhead at least once every few months to avoid the aforementioned issues and, also, to avoid wasting ink.  Here’s how you do it:

Method 1: Using the Printer’s Control Panel

The first method will help you understand how to clean an HP printer printhead using the printer’s control panel.  Follow these steps closely:

  • Load an A4-size, plain white paper in the input/intake tray
  • Locate the power button, press it and hold it down.
  • Important: Make sure you continue to hold the power button down while performing the next steps:
    • After a few seconds, press on the Cancel button twice.
    • Once you double press, go to the Resume button and press it once.
  • You can now release the power button

Method 2: HP Solution Center

Apart from the method above, you can also clean an HP Printer’s printhead using the HP Solution Center. This is a software that HP supplies when you buy their printer. If you do not have the software on your computer or cannot find the included disc, you may also download it from

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Launch the HP Solution Center either via a desktop shortcut or by locating the shortcut within “Start” => “All Programs”. This will open a new window.
  • Within this window, you will find a “Settings” icon or tab.
  • In the “Settings” window,  locate and open the “Printer Toolbox” tab.
  • Within Printer Toolbox, locate and select the “Device Service” tab
  • In this tab, you will find the “Clean Printheads” feature
  • Click on “Clean Printheads” to start the cleaning process. Once the cleaning commences, the dialog box will provide several on-screen instructions that you need to follow.
  • Also, make sure that you have an A4 page in the input tray.
  • Once the cleaning finishes, the printer will print a test page to indicate that the printhead is thoroughly cleaned.

Method 3: Manual Cleaning

If your HP printer is out of warranty, you can follow the manual process to clean the printhead. You will need a clean, lint-free cloth, disposable container, paper towels, and hot water.

  • Stack paper towels at the bottom of the container. Pour warm water into the container at least two inches from the bottom. Make sure the paper towels submerge completely.
  • Find the ink cartridges in the printer and remove them from their printhead. You can use gloves to ensure the inks don’t touch your skin.
  • Place these ink cartridges on another dry paper towel upside down. Don’t leave them outside for more than 30 minutes; otherwise, they may dry quickly.
  • The printhead is vacant now. Clean it manually by detaching it from the printhead latch. Dampen the lint-free cloth with warm water and clean the bottom of the printhead thoroughly.
  • Once you clean it with the cloth, soak it inside the container. Make sure only the nozzles touch the paper towels. Leave it for ten minutes.
  • Remove the printhead and dry it for 15 minutes. Put the ink cartridges back into it and restore the printhead into the latch.

By following one of the three methods above, your HP printer’s printhead should now be clean. Remember to clean your printhead several times a year to avoid streaky, unreliable printing and to also utilize each ink cartridge to its fullest potential.