I tend to print, at most, 5 pages per month: usually 2-3 black and white pages, and 1-2 color pages.

In the past 3 years, I've gone through 4 inkjet printers because they all clog so fast. I've tried several different models of HP (Hewlett Packard) and EPSON all-in-one devices (printers with flatbed and sheet-fed scanners).

Is there any way to keep inkjet printers from quickly clogging?

I would prefer not to have to remember to print a couple color pages every few days (and then immediately recycle the wasted pages), switch to a laser printer, drive to a store to pick up prints, or wait for prints to arrive in the mail.

3 Answers 3


The best remedy for clogging is to perform periodic maintenance by taking your vehicle out on the road to clean out the cobwebs every once in a while.

Note: I have a supply of shopping list paper (pre-printed) as a side benefit to this practice.

Give some thought to the test page. It should have some of each of the 4 colour inks, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. You do not have to print a lot so much as you print a bit from each ink jet nozzle regularly. A line of text with a few words in each colour should be enough to do the job.

Save the document as a file and print the "print-head maintenance file" weekly. Think of it as maintenance.

Planet savers can reuse the same piece of paper a few times if the printed strip is positioned near the end of a sheet. Then, put the scrap sheet on top of the paper supply to print the ink strip … top, bottom, front, back, etc. You don't care what it looks like.

Good luck.


I fought this same battle for years. In the end the cheapest and easiest solution was to change to a 'monochrome laser all-in-one'

I tossed out much more money in dried up ink over the years, then the cost of replacing the machine with a laser printer.

So now I only print black and white, and I am still using the toner that came with the machine 2 or 3 years ago.

Yes there are a few things that I might want to print in color. But I am happy to be able to print them in black and white, and be able to print them when I want without having to worry about dried up ink! If I really need it in color, there are both family and commercial options for getting color prints.

So far I have not found anything that really needed color.

  • I've been very tempted to go this route. Ironically, I gave away my monochrome HP LaserJet when I bought my first inkjet because this issue had not been disclosed. My concerns about buying a laser all-in-one is that I have found the scanning ability of many of these all-in-ones to be subpar. I scan over 100 pages per month, so I need a sheet feeder that actually works. All the all-in-ones that I have tried from HP either have sheet feeder issues or serious problems with the scans. I like the scanner portion of my EPSON all-in-one, but the inkjet clogging all the time is a real problem. May 14, 2020 at 17:44
  • @RockPaperLizard I scan less then I print and almost always, one page scans, but I need to have the option. I got the MFCL2740DW and have been happy. There are tough choices to make. May 14, 2020 at 18:26
  • These days a full colour laser or led printer is as cheap as the inkjet printers of a few years ago (say 10 years or even less.) And they just always work. I do not have an all in one as I am still happy with my old scanner, although I keep an old laptop computer to work it.
    – Willeke
    May 17, 2020 at 9:04

It is usually recommended to leave a printer switched on. It probably won't consume much power. But the idea is that it periodically cleans the ink jet nozzles automatically.

Replacing the ink head can be more expensive than buying a new printer, but cheap printers are a loss leader recovered by selling expensive ink, and it will use ink even when you are not printing.

But that is not a Life Hack – that's just RTM.

If you print about 5 pages a month, my Life Hack is:

  • Use a High Street stationer with a printing service.

Take the file on a memory stick, and ask

Print 3 copies of letter.docx please.

But, don't forget to take the memory stick away with the hard copy!

  • Thank you for your answer, but my question included "I would prefer not to...drive to a store to pick up prints." May 14, 2020 at 2:16
  • Is what you write slang for a stationery store?
    – piojo
    May 14, 2020 at 6:23
  • 1
    @piojo no, a stationer is a person or business that sells stationery. A High Street is a generic (and often actual) name for where the most important shops and businesses in a town are. So for example it could be a national chain, or a franchise in a supermarket, etc. I overlooked that part though. May 14, 2020 at 7:41

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