How To: Revive an inkjet cartridge

As we all know that using an inkjet printer at home or at office is turning into a costly issue and hence, most people end-up printing lower volumes. The main reason is the expensive ink cartridges—be it black or colour. Not using the printer for prolonged periods can dry up the nozzles of the cartridges, which can cause shabby prints or no prints at all. This is a usual issue with inkljet printers in dry weather or during the summer. But to keep your printer’s cartridges in working condition, you have to keep printing copies both in colour and black at least once in a week, if not more. We show you some simple and basic steps to rescue your ink cartridges in case their nozzles are dried up.






What you will need for this workshop:


1. Some warm water.
2. A petri dish or a saucer
3 .Some ear buds
4. A lint free or cotton cloth
5. Some isopropyl alcohol readily available at a chemist for around Rs 40 for a 500 ml bottle.


We request you to read each method mentioned below very carefully before trying it. Note: This workshop is only applicable for those print cartridges which have the print head and ink tank as one single package. This is also applicable for printers that have a separate print head that houses ink tanks on it. Ink tanks do not have nozzles and hence, this workshop will not work on it. For example, HP print heads and some other printers have a common ink tank and head. Cannon, Brother and Epson use a separate head unit and ink tank altogether. If the print head of these types of printers are having the same problem, you may try this workshop in a similar fashion with the print heads. Do note, the methods, if not adhered to properly, can possibly damage the cartridge too. However, if the cartridge is almost half dead already, it is worth trying. Do the needful completely at your own risk.

Clean using an Ear Bud


Method 1: Clean using an Ear Bud




Method 1: Switch on the printer and remove the cartridge (to be serviced) safely from the head unit. Turn over the cartridge upside down and you may notice a smudge or a lump of dirt and ink accumulated on the nozzles. Clean this part carefully using a standard dry ear bud to get the lump of residue off the nozzles. Then use another ear bud dipped in clean (bottled) warm water or isopropyl alcohol (just dampen the ear bud, don’t wet it completely) and clean the nozzles again thoroughly. Make sure you don’t apply too much pressure to the nozzles to avoid the dried ink getting into the nozzles completely. Once done, you can check the cartridge if it works by inserting it back into the printer and taking a test print. If it does not work, then try method 2.

Dip in warm water


Method 2: Dip in warm water




Method 2: Dip the part of the cartridge, which has the nozzles (not the whole cartridge), in a Petri dish or a regular saucer containing bottled warm water for an hour or two or more if needed. Make sure you do not dip the whole cartridge or else this may damage the circuitry and the cartridge may be rendered useless. This method should dampen the dried ink settled on the nozzles and inside the nozzle holes to a certain extent. You may find the area of water around the nozzles getting coloured due to the bleeding of ink from the cartridge’s nozzles; this is a good sign. After some time remove the cartridge from the water and wipe dry the excess water from the cartridge nozzles carefully. Check the cartridge again in the printer. If it still does not work, try method 3.

Clean with damp lint-free cloth


Method 3: Clean with damp lint-free cloth




Method 3: Place the cartridge’s nozzles on a dry or damp, lint free cotton cloth and slightly press the nozzles to the cloth using the gentle force of your fingers. You should notice some ink smudging on the cloth. This is an indication that the ink is flowing and the cloth is trying to absorb as much ink as possible. Let it do so for around 5-10 minutes so some quantity of ink flows out. Jerk the cartridge with a little force in order to help push the ink through the nozzles. Again try to test the cartridge or else use method 4.

Keep under warm running water


Method 4: Keep under warm running water



Method 4: Caution: This method can possibly damage your cartridge (try it at your own risk). Place the cartridge (only the nozzle area) under a tap with running warm water for around 15 to 20 minutes. Ensure that you do not allow too much water to flow over the cartridge. Just release a thin stream of warm water from the tap and place the cartridge under it in such a way that the water flows only on the nozzles and not on the circuit strip. This method ensures that the heat from the warm water and the flowing stream loosens the dried ink and some of it also enters the cartridge. Once you are satisfied with enough of water flow over the nozzles, wipe off the excess water using the cotton cloth and insert it into the printer back again. Try printing to check if it works or else try method 5. At this stage, if the printer prints smudged or faded prints, then try a number of more prints or use the cartridge cleaning program till the prints are satisfactory. The reason of smudged prints may be because of water inside the nozzle pathway which may have mixed with the ink, making the ink thin and watery.

Dip in Isopropyl Alcohol


Method 5: Dip in Isopropyl Alcohol




Method 5: Take a Petri dish or any flat saucer, keep the cartridge nozzle facing down in it and fill it with Isopropyl alcohol to a certain extent that it does not rise above the level of the nozzles and onto the circuit board. Isopropyl alcohol is a cleaning agent and is widely used in cleaning electronic circuit boards to get rid of grease and stubborn dust. It is a volatile liquid and does not leave back any stain or residue and hence used as a cleaning agent. You can avail of this alcohol at any computer hardware store or a chemist for around Rs. 40 per 500 ml. Beware that some duplicates are also sold in the market and may be mixed or diluted with water — to test it, take a drop of it on your fingers or the back of your hand and rub it gently, it should disappear within seconds and your finger should feel completely dry, not damp, moist or sticky. Follow the same procedure as method 2 explained before. Finally when done, insert it back to the printer and test it.


If any of the above procedure manages to rescue your cartridge, you can save yourself from spending a few hundred rupees on buying a new cartridge. Additional to the above methods, you should also clean the contact points on the circuit board of both the cartridge and the printer (where the cartridge is installed in the printer) with a cloth dampened with isopropyl alcohol to clean out any corrosion or dirt residing on the contacts. You may also have to try the cartridge cleaning function (in addition to the manual cleaning) which can be performed using the printers function buttons or the printer driver software from your computer. If all works well, then you have successfully revived your dried cartridge, or else it is time you buy yourself a new one. All the very best!

Published Date: Aug 28, 2012 04:38 pm | Updated Date: Aug 28, 2012 04:38 pm