How to clean an HP Printhead The printheads in your HP printer are the components of your printer that physically applies your text, design, or image onto the paper. Over time these can build up residuals or even foreign dust and particulates which can interfere with the quality of your prints. Printheads also have microscopic nozzles on them which can clog when exposed to the air for more than a few minutes. Cleaning your printheads will solve both of these issues and restore your prints to their maximum quality. If you are unsure if your printheads need cleaning, the easiest way to be sure is to run a job through your printer. If the print is missing lines or dots in your text or graphics, your printheads need to be cleaned. Be aware however that the cleaning process will use ink, so you should only run the cleaning process when absolutely necessary. On most HP printers, the cleaning process will take approximately three to three and a half minutes. In HP printers, the cleaning process is either initiated through the control panel of your printer. Refer to your owner’s manual or to the manufacturer’s information on how to initiate the cleaning process through your printer’s control panel. The cleaning process consists of multiple levels. When cleaning printheads, you should first initiate a level one cleaning, and then test your print again. If there is still an issue, proceed to a level two cleaning. Repeat this process again, and if necessary perform a level three cleaning. Alternatively, printheads can be manually cleaned. First, open the top cover of your machine, and be sure that the printer is on. Wait a few seconds, and then unplug the machine without powering it off. This prevents the printer from shutting down, which would move the print carriage out of your reach. Then, lift the printhead latch and printhead handle, and pull the printhead out of the slot. Carefully clean each printhead with a dry, soft, lint-free cloth, making sure you only wipe the contact pads. Be careful not to touch the nozzles as these are very delicate and you can cause severe damage to them. Once printheads are clean, plug the printer back in and turn it on. Reinsert the printheads and re-latch them into your machine. Then, close your cover and the printer will finish the rest.