How to Unclog a Lexmark Black Ink Cartridge

By Melissa King

A Lexmark printer's black ink cartridge may get clogged or dried out if exposed to air or left unused for a long period of time. This affects the quality of your business's printouts, because when an ink cartridge is clogged, the printer cannot use that color until you clean the nozzles. Your printer features a nozzle-cleaning utility that removes clogs and dried ink. If the cleaning does not work, Lexmark recommends that you remove the clogged ink cartridge and clean the nozzles manually.

Nozzle Cleaning via Control Panel

Put plain white paper in the Lexmark printer's paper tray.

Press "Menu" on the printer's control panel several times until "Copy" appears on the display.

Press "Options" until "Maintenance" displays, and press "+" until "Clean" appears.

Press "Select" to begin the nozzle-cleaning process. Repeat the process again, if necessary.

Nozzle Cleaning with Lexmark Productivity Suite

Place plain paper in the Lexmark printer's paper tray.

Double-click "Lexmark Productivity Suite" on your computer's desktop.

Double-click "Maintain/Troubleshoot" and click the "Maintenance" tab.

Click "Clean to fix horizontal streaks" and select "Print." Wait a moment while the printer prints a test page to clean the nozzles.

Click "Print Again" if the black ink cartridge remains clogged; otherwise, click "Close."

Clean Print Nozzles Manually

Power on the Lexmark printer and lift up the lid or scanner unit. The cartridge carrier automatically moves to the center of the printer.

Press down on the black ink cartridge lever to lift the lid. Remove the cartridge from the carrier.

Lay a paper towel on a table or desk. Moisten a lint-free cloth with lukewarm water and lay the cloth on the paper towel.

Place the ink cartridge on the cloth with the nozzles pointing down and press down on it for three seconds. Rub the cartridge against the cloth. Only wipe the cartridge in one direction.

Repeat the process to clean the gold-colored contacts on the back of the cartridge.

Allow the cartridge to dry fully, and then reinsert it into the printer.

Run the nozzle-cleaning process from the control panel or the Lexmark Productivity Suite to determine whether the cartridge is now unclogged. If it remains clogged, remove it and clean it manually again.

Items you will need

  • Paper towel

  • Lint-free cloth


If you have cleaned the cartridge more than three times and the print quality has not improved, you may need to replace the cartridge with a new one.