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Repair information for the HP Photosmart C6180, an all-in-one printer by HP.

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How to clean the print head

While I hve not taken the printer apart, the print head seems to be well hidden and I wonder if it is practical to clean it. While the ink is good, black prints ocasionally, cyan or light cyan prints most of the time and all others don't print at all.

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Good q. Have you got an answer for it? Have the same problem: howeve, to replace a printhead is much more expensive than just to clean it


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The internal cleaning procedures usually make the issue worse by compounding it with more ink - you need to take it apart to get it clean. However, the HP 02 series requires partial disassembly to get to the printhead.

One way to do it on the 02 printers is to get a syringe, vinyl tubing, and cleaning fluid. You can get a kit on eBay - hook the tube up to the nozzles where the carts are installed. While disassembly works, it’s not something I’d go for first; the 02 units took notes from Epson with how they run the ink lines; it's like how they run the printhead cables so only the best can do a full-blown printhead removal. In most cases both the lines and head need to be cleared with HP 02.

The other way is to get empty carts and manufacture cleaning carts (if you can’t buy them), but 02 printers are made of Epson levels of evil with early HP ink DRM (time death, not blatantly advertised DRM like HP DS and HP+ requiring genuine ink). IT IS GENERALLY BYPASSABLE (but not on all of them) on the 02 printers at the risk of the user, thankfully... See here for more info on this HP ink “expiration date” garbage*.

*There is some truth to it with inkjets because the ink does eventually dry out or age in a way where it doesn’t print correctly, but it doesn’t happen in the period HP makes you believe it does. However, the ones where it’s usually mentioned here are disposable and if you kill it, you cry for 5 minutes and buy a new one.

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Your printer has its own self-clean. It's in your manual.

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I have the exact same problem, some colors not printing even with new cartdriges (sligthly different printer, mine is the C7280, but doesn’t seem to be much difference). I have dissasembled it completely and reached the print head. It is not a piece of cake, but it is not impossible either, it just required patience. Cleaned the prnit head with IPA, and reassembled. Good news is printer works as before, no harm done. Bad news is, that didn’t solve the issue and some colors still don’t print. I’m assuming there’s some dried ink somewhere.

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I had an Epson like this that I repaired for a client - the self clean cycles did nothing, nor did Q tips w water or alcohol on the head surface.. Not did water through the head with syringe. Ultimately a $35 print head worked.

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