Printer self-cleaning

Updated: 11/12/2023 by Computer Hope
Canon printer

Printer self-cleaning is a modern inkjet printer feature that cleans and helps maintain the device's printheads and nozzles. The cleaning cycle may be performed automatically after a specific number of print jobs or activated manually by the user if the print quality is poor.

How does printer self-cleaning work?

When activated, the printer self-cleaning pushes a little bit of ink through all printhead holes, nozzles, or jets. Pushing ink through each hole helps ensure there is no dry ink or other debris blocking the holes. All ink used during the process is sent to the printer's waste ink absorber or sponge.

What a printer self-clean fixes and doesn't fix

Printer self-clean fixes

  • Poor print quality.
  • Missing areas that should be printed.
  • Lines, smudges, and other visual defects.

Printer self-clean cannot fix

  • A printer that is not detected when connected to a computer.
  • Low ink warnings.
  • Software setting that prints a rough draft or low-quality version.
  • Printer producing blank pages or not starting a print job.
  • Any printhead defect, such as a printhead not moving.
  • Strange noises coming from the printer, like squeaking or grinding.

Does the printer self-cleaning waste ink?

Yes, performing a printer self-cleaning does require ink, as we mentioned above. It may also require replacing the waste ink absorber if activated frequently. You should only use the self-cleaning feature if your printer is producing poor-quality output, missing a certain color, producing less than 100% complete prints, or has other defects.

How to start printer self-cleaning?

The printer self-cleaning is activated using one of the following methods:

  • Printer software - The software installed with the printer can activate its self-cleaning mode. In Windows, the printer software may be in the notification area or by clicking the Start button and typing the printer manufacturer's name (e.g., Canon, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, or Samsung).
  • Printer Control Panel - Printers with a Control Panel on the front of them allow access to the self-cleaning feature via menus.
  • Printer buttons - Some printers may have a dedicated self-cleaning button. Others require the user to press a combination of buttons to start the process. See your printer model documentation for the proper button sequence.

Do laser printers have a self-cleaning feature?

Yes, some laser printers have a mode that cleans the printer by removing excess toner from its internal components.

Cleaning, Printer terms, Printhead