Before you start with the article we want to make sure that you first went through the automated solution in our last article on How To Clean HP Printheads, where we explained the non invasive way of cleaning them, where you don’t risk damaging your device. If you didn’t go through it, be sure to do it now since this tutorial is a bit more advanced and it’s recommended to do this as a last resort. On to the topic – while HP Printheads can be cleaned through the official Printer Drivers which you got with the device, sometimes you may encounter a stubborn printer which needs to cleaned manually. The reasons behind it are, usually, color fading, missing text and streaking problems. Now, although the process of HP Printhead Cleaning is simple, keep in mind that you need to be really careful when playing around with the contacts on both ends, the ones on the printhead and the ones on the cartridges. If damaged, you can’t use them anymore. So, with that in mind, let’s first talk about printhead cleaners. Buying a HP printhead cleaner, what do we recommend? If you’re searching for a dedicated HP printhead cleaner or HP Printhead Cleaning Kit then you can find a list of the most popular kits over at Amazon, there is no specific brand or package which we recommend since most of them are just basic cleaning kits with no special chemicals in them. Regarding the price, expect to pay around $15 for a simple kit like the one which you can see on the left photo. Just keep in mind that you’re cleaning copper contacts, so don’t use anything which can damage it. In the worst case scenario, if you don’t want to go with a printhead cleaner, just take a bottle of isopropyl alcohol, a cotton swab or lint-free cloth and you’re good to go. Prepare the printer for the manual printhead cleaning Place your printer on a desk where you can have easy access to the top of it, turn it on, open the cover and expose the ink cartridge assembly. Once you’re done with that, wait for a few seconds until the printer adjust itself for the replacement, and then unplug it from the power outlet. With those steps you will have full access to the ink cartridges and the printheads while not having any electricity going through the device. Leave it unplugged and let’s go to the next step. Remove your ink cartridges from the assembly and expose the printheads If you have experience with ink cartridge replacement, then you’re probably familiar with these steps. It’s basically similar, you just need to remove all the ink cartridges and expose the copper contacts below them. You can do that by pulling them out and up. Really easy. Start the process by first cleaning the ink cartridges The reason why most of the printheads get dirty after a while is because of the contact with ink cartridges. So, be sure to first clean up the ink cartridges, and to do that just take a lint-free cloth or cotton swab dipped in to your cleaning solution and wipe it off gently. I repeat – gently. Just keep in mind that you only want to wipe the flat copper contacts, do not wipe the nozzle. Once you cleaned all four of your ink cartridges, be sure to place them on a piece of paper laying on the side. Don’t put them upright with the freshly cleaned copper contacts touching the table, just put them on the side and that’s it, let them dry and continue to the next step. Continue with HP Printheads and their own copper contacts If you look in to the ink cartridge assembly within your HP Printer you will see the copper contacts which were touching the ink cartridges which you took out before. The same copper contacts are named Printheads, since they act as the head of the printer. Take your lint-free cloth or a new cotton swab, dip it again in to your cleaning solution and start cleaning the copper contacts in the same gentle way you did with the cartridges. Be sure to remove any black spots which you can find. Once finished, leave everything for a 5 to 10 minutes to dry out and continue to the next step. Place everything back and restart the device The same steps you took for getting the pieces out need to be taken for putting them back in, and once you snapped down the top of the device, it’s ready to plug it back in to the power outlet. Once you close the cover the printer will do its thing and reset itself, and at that point you’re finished with the HP Printhead Cleaning process and are ready to go. What to do in case it’s still not working properly? Now, as I mentioned above already, manually cleaning your printheads is the last solution which you can do before entering the replacement parts game. So, if you can’t save your device and think that it needs new printheads, the only step which you can take after that is buying replacement printheads. If that’s the case, then we got you covered in our guide on How To Replace HP Printheads. Be sure to go through it and let us know if you need any further help.