Have you ever put a new cartridge in your inkjet printer only to find that it puts out unintelligible marks and lots of blank space? This is a common enough problem when dealing with ink, especially if the cartridge has sat for a long period of time. Most inkjets have expiration dates somewhere on the box. Conventional wisdom puts the shelf life of an inkjet at one to two years depending on the make and brand. Some brands may keep longer.
All of us at one time or another has dealt with an ink pen that has clogged up. To get it flowing again, all we do is force write on a paper until the ink starts to flow. Just like the ink pen, the inkjet cartridge has stopped up. All we need to do is to get it flowing again.
This problem usually occurs in "sponge type" inkjet cartridges. These are the ones that have print heads incorporated into the cartridge. The print head is where most clogs occur. There are a couple options for getting the ink flowing again.
1. Go to a reputable ink/toner refiller in your area. They should be able to tell you by the weight of your cartridge is there is still plenty of ink in it. If you are very familiar with your printer, you should be able to judge by the "feel" of the cartridge as to whether or not it still has ink. Most refillers have print head cleaners and or a high pressure water stream that can free the clog in a matter of a minute or so. Many reputable refillers will provide this service free of charge.
2. If there is no refiller in your area, all is not lost. Simply get a paper towel and some distilled water. Press the print head in a firm rocking motion on the wet spot of the paper. Change positions on the wet spot, using more paper towels if necessary until you see the ink in a solid straight line. If you are doing a black cartridge you will see a single black line. If you are doing a color cartridge you will see three lines; blue, red, and yellow (cyan, magenta, and yellow for you technical types.) This procedure is called 'blotting." Blotting may take a few minutes depending how tough the clog is.
Many have asked if it is ok to use normal tap water for a blot. Can you use tap water….yes it will work. Should you use tap water...in my opinion no. Tap water is hit and miss from one community to the next. You will find different impurities that may react with the print head and cause you a few printing problems down the road. Distilled water is safer and easily available. I recommend sticking with that.
Some inkjet cartridges cost upward of thirty dollars or more. Don't buy a replacement just because you have a clogged inkjet cartridge. Use these simple steps to save you some cash and a trip to the store