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Inkjet: My cartridge prints poor quality (lines or streaks on the page, or colors not coming out properly)

Last Updated: Aug 27, 2014 05:39PM PDT
There is an updated and more comprehensive article that replaces this article, please click here.

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If your inkjet cartridge is printing with lines or streaks on the page, or colors are not coming out on the page, or are faint, these are all signs that your print-heads have a clog.  The options to deal with a print-head clog are different depending on whether the print-heads are on the cartridge, or in the printer.

How do I know whether the printheads are in the printer or in the cartridge?
"Printheads" are the mechanical parts that house hundreds of tiny nozzles, through which the ink flows before it gets set to the paper.  Some cartridges have printheads directly on the cartridge (like most HP, Lexmark and Dell cartridges), but some cartridges do not have printheads (such as all Epson, all Brother, all Kodak, and a few HP and Lexmark) - these types have printheads inside the printer.  If you are not sure whether the printheads are on your specific cartridge or in your specific printer, email us and we will assist.

How to troubleshoot when your print-heads are in the printer
For these types of printers, your printer will offer a "printhead cleaning" option in its menu, also referred to as "nozzle cleaning".  Run the printhead cleaning cycle 1-2 times to get the ink to flow properly.  

How to troubleshoot when your print-heads are on the cartridge
  1. Pour hot water into a cup (about 1/4 inch deep)
  2. Place the head of the cartridge (where the ink comes out of when printing, also known as printheads) into the water
  3. Leave the cartridge there until the water cools and then repeat the first two steps 2 more times
  4. Dry the cartridge and test it in the printer
(or you can do the same procedure using our Print Head Cleaning Solution, which is more potent than hot water or steam)
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