Cleaning print heads on Epson printers

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doug-doug the mighty's picture
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Cleaning print heads on Epson printers

I have an Epson Stylus 900G. This has been good machines for me in the past. It is now being naughty and producing streaked print. I put it through several clenaing cycles on the existing cartridges (which were good cartridges). I have replaced the cartridges and gone through dozens more of the cleaning cycles, thus ensuring the catridges were not bad.

What I need to know is how can I restore this machines to good working order? Professional service is not a desireable option, but I need THIS machine in working order and will go down that road if I must. I would prefer not to disassemble the printer to clean them, but if someone has a good take-apart guide and instructions on cleaning, I will do that.

TIA for any help.


Last seen: 3 years 4 months ago
Joined: Nov 11 2004 - 20:35
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Depending on whether or not t

Depending on whether or not this machine uses DuraBrite ink, there are two cleaning kits available from

I've used their kit for DuraBrite ink and it was worth it. Here is the list specifically for Epson printers:


doug-doug the mighty's picture
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Thanks, I will try this out!

Dr. Webster's picture
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This walkthrough might help o

This walkthrough might help out too:

I know you're not quite seeing the same symptoms that the walkthrough describes, but if a cleaning kit doesn't help, this may be worth a shot.

doug-doug the mighty's picture
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This was a very good write up and gave me the motivation and courage to open my 740, which has the described problem. I took this a step further and removed the whole pump assembly and flushed it out with very hot water (shaking it off and allowing it to air dry). there was a lot of ink that had pooled in and around the pump housing, but it was hard to tell if this was build up from the previous 5 years or fresh. Either way, I cleaned it and the tubing out good. Reassembly was easy enough. I tried the cleaning cycle several times and got nothing. While it was a free (and awesome) idea, it did not seem to fix my 740.

As my 900G (the one this issue was based on) only has trouble with the color skipping out, I am sure it is the heads. The specific behavior of the 900G is that as the head travels from right to left, all colors print okay. As it travels from left to right, only cyan prints. If the printer is doing B&W, black works fine in both directions.

For the 900G, I am sure I will try the solution (pun intended) suggested above unless a 'free' fix is brought up. For the 740, I may need the cleaner as well unless a few more cleaning cycles produce a miracle.


Last seen: 12 years 8 months ago
Joined: Jun 18 2005 - 14:52
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Epson 740 Printer

Yep, I'm having the same problems wit my Epson 740.
It has been a great printer and would love to revive it.
Any ideas appreciated.

doug-doug the mighty's picture
Last seen: 3 months 1 week ago
Joined: Apr 14 2004 - 17:52
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On a lark, I started a cleaning cycle (again) for the 900G, but I pulled the plug when it started and slid the head out of the way. I then squirted some VERY hot water on the pad (the one over the suction tub). I slid the head back in place and plugged the printer back in.

I ran a couple of cleaning cycles and saw no change, but this morning, I printed a page and it came out perfect. I am thinking that the wetting of the pad may have provided an opportunity for whatever gunk may have been on the head to soften up enough (maybe). Either way, the 900G is working.

I still have to work on the 740, but may open a fresh issue for this.


Last seen: 10 years 8 months ago
Joined: Dec 14 2004 - 20:14
Posts: 122
More Ideas

I had 2 Epson printers, the last being a 740. Both died from clogged print heads. I now have a Canon & have never had this problem. Below are some ideas that I collected from the web when I had my problems.

WASTING INK. I, too, have used alcohol to clean the heads on my Epson
printer. I have only had problems with the black ink heads. The first time
the heads became clogged, the printer was on warranty. Epson sent me a
replacement over night and paid to return the old one. (It was one of the
best consumer experiences I have ever had) A year later when it stopped
printing black, I figured I take a crack at fixing it myself. I removed the
black cartridge, cleaned it out and filled it with 99% isopropyl alcohol. (I
asked the pharmacist for the 99% alcohol) I put the cartridge back in and
ran through the cleaning procedure. I took many attempts but the head was
finally cleared. I also used a lot of colored ink. The next time I needed to
clean the heads, I came up with following way to save ink. It helps if you
fill a eye drop bottle with alcohol and keep it handy. Also have a
flashlight handy. Take out the black and color cartridges. Put them on a
suitable dish or tray upside down. Put a few drops of alcohol in the ink
holes to keep them wet. Repeat as needed - don’t let them dry out. Keep
plenty of paper towels handy. Smile Put the black cartridge filled with alcohol
into the printer. Look into the color cartridge holder. You will see a shiny
metal tab. When this is depressed it tells the printer that a cartridge is
in the printer. Look at the indicator light next to the power switch. The
green light will be on. Push the tab, it will go off. This tab must be
depressed for the cleaning function to work. I took a piece of cardboard
from the back of a tablet and folded it so it would keep the tab depressed .
This will take some experimentation to get right. The indicator light will
be off when you get it right. Put several drops of alcohol into the colored
ink wells before blocking the tab and closing.the lid. You could use an old,
cleaned-out, colored ink cartridge for this if you wanted. With the alcohol
cartridge in place and the colored side rigged, clean to your hearts
content. You will run alcohol through the black side and not waste any
colored ink in the procedure. The above technique can be reversed or varied
to clean the colored heads. Happy cleaning.

~~~~~~~~ I clean and repair all types of printers as a business... the
surest way to unblock ink-jet print heads is to take out the
cartridges,(cover the outlets with some damp material) put some absorbant
paper under the print heads and partly fill Black and Colour recepticals
with ink flushing fluid, leave over night, then using a cooking baster,
gently force a stream of fluid onto the pads that the cartridges sit
on,replacing the absorbant paper when necessary. providing the print head
hasn't been damaged or worn out in the first place. This procedure will
always work. Regards Don

~~~~~~ I discovered PEROXIDE about two years ago. I tried everything in my
medicine cabinet including Witch Hazel, alcohol, nail polish remover
(acetone), peroxide, water, etc. Peroxide was the last thing I used and it
worked like a charm. For my Canons, just a drop of peroxide applied with an
eye dropper to the bottom side of the cartridge works wonders. For black it
requires 2 drops and a few cleaning revolutions. For Lexmarks sometimes you
have to let the cartridges soak in a mug in an inch of peroxide from 1 day
to 1 month. Lexmarks cartridges are stubborn if you let them start to run
out of ink and then refill. Always refil before empty. What I found most
successful with Lexmark was the vigor with which I rubbed the contacts with
a cotton facial pad (Coet) dabbed in peroxide. It seems the black ink
especially hardens on to the contacts. Just a little extra elbow grease does
the trick. The Epson is next so I will follow the tatics people mentioned
above but using Peroxide not alcohol. I honestly found alcohol to almost
worthless in comparison to peroxide. Now I imagine that if one wanted to get
really aggressive, Peroxide is probably available in a heavy duty strength
at the beauty supply!

~~~~~~~This article saved my printer. I had such bad clogging on my Epson
860 that paper was emerging completely white - no ink at all. I had run many
many cleaning cycles to no avail, then I used the alcohol in a dropper
solution and it made no difference for at least 20 more cleaning cycles. Did
more alcohol, more cleaning, suddenly a little bit of red , then more
cleaning and all the nozzles cleared. I have a couple of additional pieces
of advice - on an Epson printer, the cleaning cycle intensifies in groups of
3. If you clean then print, then clean, then print, you only ever do the
light cycle. You have to run 3 consecutively, without printing in between,
to get the more intense cleaning to kick in (this was from an Epson
technician). The other thing he told me (that I should have known) is that
you have to turn off the printer between jobs if you can - he said that
leaving it on is like leaving the cap off a marker. Sounds like bad design
to me - turning the printer on and off causes booting problems for some of
us but there you are. Too bad he didn't tell me about alcohol too! Thank you
so much for putting this solution out.

~~~~~~~~~ Epson Stylus Color 800 clogged print head

PROBLEM: Dryed black ink clog-up in the tube leading from the black ink
cartridge to the print head. Black ink flow totally halted. New cartridges
won't work.

BACKGROUND: Epson uses very fast-drying, water-soluble, inks in this
printer, and if the printer sits idle for some length of time the ink feed
tubes and the print heads become clogged with dry ink. Epson issues dire
warnings about potential damage to the printer if attempts are made to flush
these parts with any solvent, and recommends factory repair only.

On the advice of someone who has vast experience with such problems, I
successfully used the following repair. procedure.

REPAIR PROCEDURE: Use a clean small hypodermic syringe with NO needle. Press
on to the syringe nozzle, a 3/4 inch long piece of model airplane gas engine
fuel tubing. This tubing is available cheaply from your local model hobby
shop. It is a pale light blue colored plastic tubing. The MEDIUM size is the
right one. The bore (ID) of the tubing is less than 1/16 of an inch. It
makes a very tight fit when pushed onto the syringe nozzle.

Remove the cartridge from the printer, and pull the power plug immediately
to prevent any further printer movement.

Load the syringe with 2-3 CC's of scalding hot water, preferably distilled
water available at your grocery store. Then press the other end of the
tubing down over the little black nozzle in the bottom of the cartridge
holder. It must be a very tight fit.

Forcibly inject the hot water into the printer. If the clogging is really
severe, you may have to press the syringe plunger very hard. Continue
injecting until the syringe is empty, while making sure that the tubing does
not slip off the syringe or the printer nozzle. Repeat this injection
procedure 1-2 more times with more hot water if necessary.

Once the hot water goes through easily, the clog has been dissolved. It may
be necessary to wait 24 hours for the water to evaporate, but in my case it
was not. I simply replaced the black ink cartridge, and ran the Epson's
head-cleaning utility several times until the black ink started coming
through. Running the nozzle-check utility, to make a test pattern print,
will let you know when the ink flow is OK.

This same procedure should work equally well for the colored inks of this
printer. I suspect that the procedure will also probably work for some other
Epson inkjet printers as well.

Cheers, Tom
Mac Troubleshooting, Maintenance & Tips

Last seen: 12 years 8 months ago
Joined: Jun 18 2005 - 14:52
Posts: 195
Printer Cleaning

Well, reading this thread got me going.
I have an Epson 740 which has served me well for many years.
Black still printed well but color was clogged , print head cleaning software was no help.
I began to disassemble the printer but realized it was beyond my ability.
I took of the main plastics and to my girlfriends dismay, took it to the bathtub.
I flushed everything for over an hour with warm / hot water.
An unbelievable amount of ink was rinsed out.
Took a long time but eventually the water ran clear.
I dried the printer overnight with a fan blowing on it.
Reassembled it and printed a B/W page , cool no problem.
Tried to print color and got a paper jam.
After several jams, I figured perhaps I had cleaned the lube
out of the feed wheels.
A bit of WD-40 followed by the head cleaning utility several times and the printer is acting like new!
I know this is a very low tech solution, but it did work.
I had also decided to replace the printer if the cleaning did not work, so it was a no lose proposition.
* I used no chemicals in the printer bath , only warm / hot water...

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