How to Clean HP Print Heads
By Marie Cartwright
If your HP printer just isn't printing as well as it used to, it may be that your print heads need cleaning. After being used for a while, the print heads can sometimes get clogged. This can cause streaky or incomplete print jobs. Fortunately, HP printers come with a built-in cleaning function. You can start this process right from your computer with the correct software. Windows users will need HP Toolbox, whereas Mac users will need HP Inkjet Utility. You can also begin the cleaning process manually.
HP Toolbox (Windows)
Open the "Start" menu. Click "All Programs." Select "HP Toolbox." If it's not an option on your computer, you can download it (see Resources). Alternatively, if you have an icon for HP Toolbox on your desktop, double-click the icon to launch the program.
Click the "Printer Services" tab.
Click "Clean Printheads." Follow any on-screen instructions provided. These instructions will vary depending on your model of printer.
HP Inkjet Utility (Mac)
Open the "Utilities" folder. Open the "HP Photosmart" folder. Click the "HP Inkjet Utility" icon to launch the program.
Open the drop-down menu in the HP Inkjet Utility window.
Click "Clean." Follow any on-screen instructions provided. These instructions will vary depending on your model of printer.
Ensure that your printer has paper. Since you will be printing a test page, feel free to use a piece of lower-quality or scratch paper.
Press the "Settings" button on your printer. The location and appearance of this button will vary depending on your model of HP printer. Consult your user manual if you are unsure which button this is.
Use the keypad to select "Tools" from within the printer screen. Press "OK."
Click "Clean Printheads." Press "OK" to begin cleaning.
- Cleaning the printheads as a preventative measure is not recommended, as the cleaning process uses up ink. Only clean your printheads if the print quality has diminished.
Marie Cartwright began writing in 2010. Her work has appeared on various websites. Having held office jobs in copywriting and editing, Cartwright now works from her home in Northern California. She also maintains an events website geared toward the science and technology community.