tips on cleaning a Canon printhead

With these simple Canon printer cleaning tips,

you can print for longer and change cartridges less often.


Ever wonder why some of your prints look worn or splotchy?  

Most of the time, it's because your printer's printhead

is jammed or dried out.


Like most printers, Canon printheads can get clogged

when dried ink or dust gets stuck in the tip.  


Most printers can be made to work again with just a simple

cleaning of the printhead (so you don't have to buy new cartridges!).

We'll show you how to do it in this short guide.

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What's a printhead?

To make an image, the printhead sprays tiny droplets of printer ink

through tiny holes.


If one of these nozzles gets clogged,

your pictures will be faded or have lines on them.


What kinds of Canon printheads are there?

Printheads for Canon printers

can be built into the cartridge or the printer itself. 


What kind of printhead does your printer have? 

The cartridges are your first hint...

Type 1: Printheads built into the cartridge

Integrated printer cartridges are those made by Canon

that come with a motor already built in.  


The printhead is built right into the back of these cylinders.  

When you change an integrated printer cartridge,

you also replace the printhead, so you never have to worry

about the printhead wearing out over time.  

Canon sells black and tri-color integrated printer refills,

and most of them come with cheap inkjet printers.


Type 2: Printheads that come with the printer

Individual ink refills work with a separate printhead

that is built into the printer and can be changed.  


Most of the time, these cartridges are much thinner

than integrated cartridges.

They come in the four most popular colors:

black, cyan, magenta, and yellow.  


Some photo printers might need a few extra color cartridges,

like a photo black or photo cyan.  

If you print a lot, you may need to replace the printhead after a long time.


However, since most replacement printheads are just as expensive as the printer,

many users just buy a new printer instead of a new printhead.


How to clean a Canon printhead automatically

Using Canon's built-in cleaning function is the easiest way to clean a printer.  

This feature is on the printer display screen of both printers with built-in ink cartridges and printers with separate ink cartridges. 

This is the first thing you should do if your prints have streaks, and it generally solves the problem right away. 

Check the user guide for your printer for the right way to use it.


How to clean a Canon printhead manually

person cleaning a removable printhead manuallyperson cleaning a removable printhead manually

Cleaning printers with a removable printhead

The steps below are for Canon printers like the Canon PIXMA TS9120 that use separate ink tanks and have a printhead that can be removed:


1. Wait until the cartridges are in the middle, and then take them out of the frame.

2. To get the printhead out of the printer, lift up on the latch that holds the cartridges in place.

3. To take the printer out of the machine, pull it up and out.


4. Wet the lint-free cloth with hot water and wipe the printer nozzle gently to remove any extra ink.

5. Put the printhead in the jar with the paper towels that are already in it. The tip of the opening should point down. Don't touch the tip, because it's easy to break.

6. Give the printhead about ten minutes to soak.  Then take it out of the bowl and put it on a dry paper towel for 15 minutes to dry.  The tip should be pointing up.

7. Replace the printhead on the printer.  Don't forget to put the latch back in place!  Then put the cartridges back in the machine and run the cleaning function again.


How to manually clean a printhead on integrated cartridges

If your printer uses cartridges with an attached printhead, you can try the "paper towel method" to fix the problem with the print quality.

A warm, wet paper towel and a dry paper towel are needed.


1. Put the printer side of the cartridge down on a warm, damp paper towel or coffee filter. Blot the cartridge with the paper towel.  This will clean the printer of any dried ink


2. Then, hold the cartridge against a dry paper towel for 2 to 3 minutes with the printer facing down. The ink will be taken up by a dry paper towel. Don't wipe the print head, because that could hurt it.


3. Put the cartridge back in and try to print again.  If you still can't get good results, you might need to change your printer cartridge.


Final notes

Cleaning the printhead of your Canon printer on a regular basis helps both the printer and the cartridges last longer. 

We suggest that you print at least once or twice a week to keep the printheads from getting clogged up. You can also use the built-in cleaning function a few times a month, but keep in mind that it uses ink, so you don't want to use it too often. 

If you try these steps to clean the printer and still don't get the type of print you need, you may need to buy new printer cartridges or replace the printhead.