How to Keep Your Inkjet Printer and Ink Cartridges Working

21-07-2014 by

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Printers are expensive pieces of equipment and do require some maintenance from time to time in order to keep them working optimally. Similarly, ink cartridges do require some care and attention as well to make sure your prints come out perfectly. We’ve put together a list of some things you can do to keep your inkjet printer and ink cartridges working.

Keep using it

Inkjet printers and ink cartridges love to be used. In fact, in order to keep them working properly, they have to be used regularly. Left alone and unused, the ink inside your cartridge may dry out, which means your printhead can get clogged. This can cause streaky prints or missing colours. It also means that your printer will use a lot of ink when you start it up again to shift the dried ink and unclog the nozzles.

To avoid this, print out a few lines of text containing all four colours (black, cyan, magenta and yellow) every few weeks, if you’re a light user. You can reuse the same sheet of paper at least four times by feeding it into the printer in different ways. You’ll also be able to keep an eye on your colour quality and spot any missing colours or streaks.

Keeping your printer away from heat sources can also help prevent clogged printheads and dried ink. Don’t put your printer above your computer, near a heat source or in direct sunlight.

Ink cartridges with built in printheads (like most HP ink cartridges) are the easiest to clean if they do become clogged. These might be the best to use if you’re printing infrequently.

Cleaning up

As soon as you start to get streaky prints, you’ll need to act to stop the problem from getting worse. The streaking may disappear after one or two pages, but if it doesn’t, you’ll need to run a printhead cleaning cycle.

Check your user manual for information on how to run a printhead clean. If you printer has an LCD screen, you may be able to find it under the Maintenance menu. If your printer does not have an LCD screen, you can usually find it by going to your Devices and Printers menu and looking through the options in your printer’s menu.

Follow up a cleaning cycle with a test print to check the quality of your printing. If you’re not happy with the results, you can run another cleaning cycle. It may take several cleaning cycles to get your prints to look good again. Remember to leave 2 or 3 minutes between each cleaning cycle, otherwise you could damage the ink cartridge printhead.

Unfortunately, cleaning cycles do use a lot of ink and if the problem is severe, you may need to buy a new ink cartridge. If your cartridge does not have a built in printhead (like most Canon ink cartridges), you can always check to see if your printer manufacturer offers deep cleans of your printhead. These may be costly and should only be looked at as a last resort.

Paper jams

Paper jams can be caused by many things. The chief cause of paper jams is poor quality paper, so buying better paper may stop jams in the future. Paper should also be kept completely dry and should be stored to keep it that way.

When clearing a paper jam, make sure not to force anything and make sure there are no paper scraps left behind as this will cause problems the next time you need to print. Your paper should also be clean as dust can jam the paper roller mechanism.

If you suspect that the paper roller mechanism is dusty, grab a can of compressed air (which you can get at most computer supplies stores) and gently blow the dust out. It’s also a good idea to do a general dusting at least once a month, both inside and out, to make sure that dust doesn’t build up inside the printer too much.

Printers can also jam because of foreign objects that have fallen in the printer. If you can’t see an obvious paper jam, get a torch and have a proper look inside your printer for anything that may have fallen in.

Drivers and software

If your printer just won’t print and is not giving cartridge specific errors, it may be that there are issues with the drivers or the connection between the printer and your computer.

Check all the cables leading from your computer to your printer and make sure that they are undamaged and properly connected. If your cables are properly connected, you may be having a driver issue.

Check the manufacturer’s website to find an updated version of your printer’s driver and install it. If you have an older printer, you may have to find a driver for a newer model that is compatible with yours. If you are in any doubt, the best bet would be to contact your printer manufacturer’s support team and find out which driver would work the best.

If you need any help with your inkjet printer and ink cartridges, please feel free to contact us and our technical support team will be able to help you. 

Nic Venter

About the author

Nic Venter+

 is the founder and director of He started the business in 2009 with the idea to sell ink and toner cartridges online and to provide you with a quality product, value for money and convenience. He regularly blogs on about printing and technology. Part of his philosophy is having fun and making sure that he and his team think everything ink, so you don't have to.

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