How to Clean HP Officejet Printheads

By Solomon Poretsky

Like any inkjet printer, HP Officejet printers are prone to periodic clogging. When their printheads clog, the quality of their printed image suffers as ink fails to reach the paper, leaving vertical white stripes. If the printer doesn't get cleaned when it first clogs, the ink can build up inside the printhead, requiring more ink-consuming cleaning and even ruining the printhead. To help you maintain your printer and its performance, HP designs Officejet printers with three levels of printhead cleaning and a final priming stage, if necessary.

Stage One

Lift up the tray cover and insert the paper until it goes all of the way to the back. Consider loading a stack of paper, since you may need more than one sheet to clean the printer.

Hold the printer's power button down.

Press the Cancel button, marked with an "X," twice while holding down the power button.

Release the power button.

Wait a few minutes for the printer to clean itself and eject a piece of paper with a test pattern. If the test pattern still has vertical white stripes through it, stage-two cleaning is necessary.

Stages Two and Three

Hold down the power button on your Officejet printer. Don't release it.

Press and release the "X" button twice.

Press and release the Resume button marked with an arrow partially superimposed over an image of a piece of paper. To do a stage-three cleaning, press and release the Resume button twice instead of once.

Release the power button. Wait for the printer to finish cleaning itself and for it to print out a test pattern. If the test pattern still has vertical streaks, complete a stage-three cleaning or, if you have already completed a stage-three cleaning, prime your printer's printhead.

Priming Your Printer

Hold down the printer's power button.

Press the "X" button once and release it.

Press and release the Resume button nine times.

Release the power button and wait for it to prime the printheads and print a new test sheet.


If all three stages of printing and the priming procedure don't fully clean your printheads, you'll need to replace them.


Cleaning your printheads uses a great deal of ink, so do as little of it as possible.