Ink Cartridge Refill Help Center

Epson Printhead Cleaning

Severe Print Quality Issues or Missing Colors

If severe streaking or missing colors appear on prints, initiate a ‘Nozzle Check’ from the printer’s ‘Maintenance’/’Tools’ menu or driver ‘Options’ menu. If gaps or spaces are visible in the printed nozzle stair-step pattern then you’ll need to perform a  ‘Head Cleaning’ once or twice to correct (NOTE: this will consume upwards of 10% of your total remaining ink).

Partially Jetting Nozzles


Epson WF Nozzle Check

If you cannot identify which color is causing the problem, print a test page/nozzle check via: 1) your printer’s ‘Maintenance’/’Tools’ panel or 2) via the Inkjet411 ‘Test Prints’ button below. A faded/missing color indicates empty.

Test Print_CMYK thumbnail

Test Prints


If, after activating the ‘Head Cleaning’ routine 2 times in a row along with manufacturer’s suggested printer cleaning procedures, blank pages are observed or output print quality is extremely poor then the printhead may have partially dried out or is clogged and a water flush of the ink ports may be necessary to help recover the ink system.* Manual PH Soak Recovery

  1. Remove suspect color cartridge – if unknown, then remove all cartridges.
  2. Gently slide a paper towel under the PRINTHEAD/CARRIAGE assembly.
  3. You’ll see a round mesh ink port where ink flows into the PRINTHEAD.
  4. Thoroughly dampen the ink port with 1-2 teaspoons (5-10 milliliters) of distilled water. Use of an eye-dropper or syringe works best; pour or drip water directly into ink port. NOTE: Use of a syringe works best by forcing water into ink port.
  5. Reinstall ink cartridge(s).
  6. Remove paper towel from beneath PRINTHEAD/CARRIAGE assembly.
  7. Activate the ‘Head Cleaning’ routine once again to see if the respective color(s) begins to flow.
  8. If not, repeat steps 4-7 again.

NOTE 1: While warm tap water is most readily available in the home, use of distilled water is suggested as it is technically safer for the printhead as it does not contain calcium or contaminants which could clog ink nozzles and/or impact the printhead’s long term performance.

NOTE 2: Epson does not endorse this ink system recovery procedure. This procedure should be considered “a last ditch effort” and assumes that there is an adequate amount of ink available for the ink system recovery. For example, at least 20% of ink is available within each ink cartridge. The flushing procedure should only be attempted after all other recovery suggestions, from Epson, have been exhausted. This includes new cartridge installation, printhead and carriage electrical contact cleaning and activation of the ‘Head Cleaning’ function, perhaps 2 or 3 times, with no visible improvement in print quality output.

This printhead cleaning procedure is applicable to all Epson consumer inkjet printer models.


Printhead Life 

The non-customer replaceable Epson PRINTHEAD will eventually fail over time with usage and age. Check User Manual, or on-line third party documentation/videos, to see if your printer’s Printhead can be easily removed & replaced.

Possible Printhead Failure? 

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