Cleaning the Print Head


If your printouts are unexpectedly light, or dots or lines are missing, you may need to clean the print head. This unclogs the nozzles so they can deliver ink properly. Print head cleaning uses ink, so clean it only if quality declines.

This section explains how to clean the print head using the Head Cleaning utility.

You can also clean the print head by holding down the ink button on the printer for three seconds. (This only works when the red ink light is off.)

Caution: When you don't turn on your printer for a long time, print quality can decline, so turn it on and print a few pages at least once a month to maintain good print quality.

Running the Head Cleaning Utility

  1. Make sure the printer is turned on but not printing, and the red ink light is off. (If the ink light is flashing or on, you need to replace a cartridge.
  2. Windows: Right-click the printer icon on your taskbar (in the lower right corner of your screen). Select Head Cleaning.
  3. Note: If you don't see the icon, see display the printer icon for instructions on making it appear.

    Macintosh OS X: Open the Applications folder and select Epson Printer Utility. Select Stylus C86 in the printer list, click OK, and select Head Cleaning.

    Macintosh OS 9: Open the File menu and choose Page Setup or Print. Click the Utility button, then click the Head Cleaning button.

    You see a screen like the following:



  4. Click Start or Print.
  5. Cleaning takes several seconds. The printer makes noise and the  green  power light flashes.

    Caution: Never turn off the printer while the green power light is flashing, unless the printer hasn't moved or made noise for more than 5 minutes.

  6. When the green power light stops flashing, make sure paper is loaded in the printer, then do the following:
  7. Windows: Click Print Nozzle Check Pattern. Then click Print.

    Macintosh: Click Confirmation, then click Next.

    The nozzle check pattern prints (see Examining the Nozzle Check Pattern for details).

  8. If the nozzle check pattern has no gaps or white lines, click Finish.
  9. If the pattern has gaps, click Clean to clean the print head again.

    If you don't see any improvement after cleaning three or four times, refer to Problems and Solutions.

    You can also turn the printer off and wait overnight-this allows any dried ink to soften-and then try cleaning the print head again.

Examining the Nozzle Check Pattern

Examine the nozzle check pattern you printed. Each staggered line should be solid, with no gaps, as shown.