How to Clear Clogged HP Ink Cartridges

By Melissa King

Your HP printer uses black and color ink cartridges to produce professional-quality documents and photos for your business. Ink cartridges sometimes get clogged with dried ink, especially if you have not used your printer for a long time. HP recommends that you remove clogged ink cartridges and wipe off dried ink with a damp cloth. After you manually clean the ink cartridges, the printer performs an automatic cleaning cycle to eliminate remaining debris.

Power on your HP printer and open the lid to automatically move the ink cartridge cradle toward the center of the machine. Disconnect the printer from the electrical outlet.

Squeeze the tabs on the front and back of the black or color ink cartridge, and then lift it out of the printer.

Moisten a lint-free cloth with distilled water. Wipe the copper-colored circuit strip on the back of the ink cartridge with the cloth. Wipe with an upward motion, but do not touch the nozzle end or the nozzle plate. Remove any excess moisture with a dry cloth.

Dampen a cloth and wipe the electrical contacts and copper strip located inside the ink cartridge cradle.

Hold the ink cartridge by its black or color cap. Remove any dried ink from the cartridge nozzle with a damp cloth.

Reinsert the cleaned ink cartridge into the cradle and press down so it locks in place. Repeat the cleaning process with the other ink cartridge, if necessary.

Close the printer lid and reconnect the power cable to an electrical outlet. Turn the printer on. The HP printer manager window opens and the printer goes through a start-up sequence as it adjusts the ink cartridges.

Select "Settings | Settings and Maintenance | Maintenance | Clean Print Cartridge" in the HP printer manager window. The printer runs a test sequence, cleans the ink cartridges and prints a test page when finished.

Items you will need

  • Lint-free cloth

  • Distilled water


Don't turn the printer off immediately after printing a document. Doing so may cause the carriage to stop in the center of the printer and allow the ink cartridges to dry out.