Cleaning clogged nozzles of a Epson inkjet printer

How to really clean a totally clogged Epson printhead?
Blow the ink out of the nozzles!

The problem with Epson inkjet printers is the built-in permanent printhead. Other manufacturers have the printhead attached to the ink cartridges. Epson printers use a built-in printhead that is not changed when replacing the ink cartridge. This seems to allow Epson to use a higher-quality printhead. However, once the printhead's nozzles get clogged the whole printer is non-functional. For more information on the problem and some cleaning tips see this site at Most sites suggest to first try the printer's "Clean Printhead" routine. If that does not work it is suggested to put the printhead into water for some hours to dissolve the dried ink.

If you let the ink in the printhead dry in for several months – like I did – you will have trouble getting all the nozzles clean again, regardless of which method you use.

So I did it the brute-force way. That worked out well. Please note that you will have to remove the printhead from the printer. This will probably void your warranty. Do this at your own risk. I have only tried out this method once and have not done a thorough investigation of its consequences. It could well be that your printer will smear ink afterwards – who knows. Please read the comments first. If you tried this method please tell us of your experiences in the comments. If you are still reading along, great 🙂

This is the printhead of an Epson Stylus Photo 895EX. You have to remove it from the printer.
To do so:

  • first remove the ink cartridge
  • unscrew the screws that hold the printhead to the moving cart
  • remove the plastic part that covers the ribbon cables
  • remove the ribbon cables

If you have a different printer model, please figure out for yourself 🙂
Soak the printhead in spiritus for an hour or two.
The six lines of small dots are the nozzles where the small ink drops are ejected that create the printed image. One line for each of the colors (including black).

These are the thorns that plug into the ink cartridges. Notice the small holes in them. That's where the ink usually flows in.

Put on end of a small silicon tube over one thorn. Fill in some spiritus into the other end of the tube and gently blow into it. You can probably also use a syringe for this but using your mouth gives you better control. You will notice small colored drops of spirit appearing at some of the nozzles. These nozzles are obviously clear.

Blow harder, really hard. You will see drops apperaring at the other nozzles that were formerly clogged. You have blown out the dried-in ink. Repeat this for the other thorns.

If this method did work for you (or if it did not) please leave a comment.

Some tips to try out before using this brute-force method:

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  1. raphman

     /  March 24, 2010

    At least in my case the printer worked flawlessly afterwards. What do you mean by 'short circuit'? As long as the printer is disconnected during disassembly and assembly there should be no risk of short-circuiting it. What printer are you using?

  2. anonymous

     /  March 24, 2010

    Anonymous writes:Please do not ever take the print head out of the printer.It short circuits the print head or the logic card. Only in some rare cases you have a working print head after detaching it from the printer.Believe me-I learned it the hard way

  3. anonymous

     /  July 15, 2010

    Anonymous writes:what is spiritus

  4. anonymous

     /  February 23, 2011

    new print head writes:Thanks for the great post. This post will very helpful for me to clean the clogged nozzles of a Epson inkjet printer.

  5. anonymous

     /  April 12, 2011

    Ron writes:thanks for the upi sell these ribbons for epson


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