Ink Wasted by Nozzle Cleaning


Today’s Question: I ran out of ink while doing the nozzle and head cleaning and had to wait for new inks to arrive. After about six cleanings, I still have the gaps in the purple portion of the test print. Shockingly, I completely used up some of the brand-new ink cartridges with this half dozen cleanings (and as you know, this stuff is not cheap!). Any idea why the cleanings are not fully getting the job done? Recommendations?

Tim’s Quick Answer: There’s no question that nozzle cleaning consumes a considerable amount of ink. Therefore, I recommend trying to minimize the number of cycles needed to resolve clogged nozzles.

More Detail: As any photographer who owns a photo inkjet printer is well aware, printer inks are somewhat expensive especially when considered the total price per gallon. For example, I found an 80ml cartridge with a price of $75. It would take about 47 of those cartridges to get a gallon of ink, which translates to a price of more than $3,500 per gallon.

When you have clogged nozzles, the print quality and color fidelity can suffer significantly, so it is important to make sure the nozzles are clear when making a print.

One of the reasons nozzles get clogged is due to residual ink drying out. You can help prevent this by making sure you’re printing on a somewhat regular basis. If you make a small print about once a week, for example, you’ll more than likely avoid clogging in the first place.

If you still end up with clogged nozzles, you’ll naturally need to use the printer’s nozzle cleaning feature. I recommend doing no more than two cleaning cycles. If that still doesn’t resolve the issue, let the printer sit for a day. This gives the anticoagulant agents in the ink a chance to circulate a bit, which can help get the nozzles cleared.

If waiting a day before trying the nozzle cleaning again still doesn’t resolve the issue you can clean the nozzles directly. For this you can use a paper towel moistened with isopropyl alcohol. In some cases you may be able to put the isopropyl alcohol on the sponge in the printer that comes in contact with the nozzles when the print head is parked.

With other printers you’ll need to put the paper towel with the isopropyl alcohol below the print head in contact with the nozzles. Let it soak for a little while and then perform another nozzle cleaning. This should resolve your clogged nozzles, and then you can focus on preventing the clogs with regular use of the printer.