epson heads blocked? tips on cleaning epson printheads

It seems modern Epson printers are faring far better than legacy models for head blockages, talking to users, a bit of useful advice is apparently to leave the printer on, as it manages itself occasionally and thus reduces the risk of heads drying out.
If you do have a blockage, then why would you want to go further than the cleaning utility? Well, sometimes the Epson Head Clean process for desktop machines fails, even after a few runs – and you just have to come up with something better. Gaps or linear banding in the inking of prints or strange colour changes can be signs of blocked heads – a failed Nozzle check is confirmation of the problem.

Even with a nozzle check pass, you may possibly have an intermittent issue. Later printer models are far better at self-cleaning, the tips below have been gathered from a few personal experiences and from users of older machines.

Windolene [Windex in the US I believe] seems to work well as a cleaner to soften ink deposits on the head. I’m told Isopropyl alcohol is a better solution, but I never tried it myself. Basically, you soak a cloth in a “solvent” & park the head above it. The hardened ink on the head gets softened and deposited on the cloth.

How to clean the head the DIY way. Warning – at your own risk! Your mileage may differ, etc.

  1. Work out how to send the print-head to the ″change inks″ position to move it out of the way.
    [ideally read the printer manual, but often pressing the paper feed button for 5 sec's with no paper in the machine does it]
  2. Set the head to the ″change inks″ position
  3. Observe the “black hole” over which the print head normally parks [now that the head's resting in the change ink position you should be able to see the area where it normally parks each time the printer's switched off]
  4. Send head back to it’s parking place to check, then back to the ink change position.
  5. Get a lint free cloth, on an A3+ desktop printer that just would not clear the heads, I used a J-Cloth cut to about 5″ long x 1 inch wide, folded once to half an inch wide – soaked the cloth in clear Windolene (to make it wet but not dripping), This Windolene is the clear stuff - definitely not the thick pink paste version.
    [please remember, this is done at your own risk, it worked for me, but may not for you.] In the US, apparently, they use Windex.
  6. Lay the folded cloth over the “parking” hole you saw earlier and try tuck in to retain it when head passes over. Ideally, you are laying the damped cloth flat where the head will park, it has to be folded thin, since the head must be able to pass over it.
  7. Send head onto damp [remember, not dripping wet] cloth.
  8. Leave a few minutes.
  9. Move head off [back to ink change position].
  10. Cloth quite inky?
  11. If the folded cloth is not inky it may not be thick enough to touch the head, you may need to fold again to make thicker, repeat from 7 this time, leave it 10 min’s.
  12. Move the head, remove cloth, make sure there’s no bits left, clean up after yourself in there – next try a Head Clean and a Nozzle check from the utility. The Head Clean cycle is needed, to get rid of any solvent off the head before you can expect clear printing.
  13. If you can not now achieve a good clear Nozzle check pattern, perhaps repeat and leave the head to rest for longer on the cloth (perhaps a new piece if it’s inky) for a few hours and try again.
  14. The Windolene might have softened any hardened ink deposits by now.
  15. If No Go, start again, sometimes it takes an overnight soak. Sometimes it takes a few days!
  16. Once it’s clear you’ll have to Head Clean at least once and probably you’ll need to print a few images to get rid of the solvent and get back to good ink.

I hope this is helpful, it worked well for me by saving the life of an older desktop printer – seemed a shame to bin it.

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