How do I fix faint or faded inkjet printouts?

A common cause of faded, faint printouts from your inkjet printer is dried ink particles causing a blockage in your printer. The printheads on an ink cartridge can be become blocked if the printer is not used for a period of time, so it is recommended to print a few pages each month to maintain the print quality. This will help prevent the ink from drying in the ink cartridges and clogging the printhead.

Print quality can also be affected by the type of paper being used. For example, if you are printing photos using plain paper or lightweight paper, the colours may not appear as vibrant as they would be when using photo paper which is specifically designed for printing photos.

This article relates to faded inkjet printouts. If you have a toner cartridge which is producing a faded print, please click here.


What can I do to improve the print quality?

This problem can often be remedied by performing a cleaning cycle on your inkjet printer or by carrying out a simple manual printhead cleaning procedure.

Performing a cleaning cycle

Most inkjet printers have a built-in printhead cleaning function that cleans the printhead and ink nozzles automatically. This head cleaning function can usually be completed via the menu on the printer, however, some printers require you to complete the action using the print settings on your PC. Full instructions can be found in your printer manual but there are some common methods for each brand:

  1. Press the Ink button. If your printer does not have this option, press the Menu button.
  2. Using the arrow keys, navigate to the Cleaning option and then select it by pressing OK.
  3. Using the arrow keys again, select which printhead you want to clean (black, cyan, magenta, yellow or
    all). Press OK to start the cleaning procedure.
  4. Allow the printer to complete the printhead clean. When finished, the printer will be ready to use again
  5. If the print quality has not improved, please try running the cleaning cycle 2-3 more times.
  1. On your computer, go to the Start menu and click on Settings / Control Panel.
  2. Select Devices & Printers on the settings menu.
  3. Select the model being used on the printer tab and click Manage to access the printer menu.
  4. Go to Printing Preferences then Maintenance and select Print Check Pattern.
  5. Once the page has printed, you can select the appropriate cleaning option.
  6. Allow the printer to complete the cleaning cycle.
  7. If the quality has not improved, please try running the cleaning cycle 2-3 more times.
  1. Press the Home button on the printer's LCD screen.
  2. Select Setup and then choose the Maintenance option.
  3. Select Printhead Nozzle Check. This will print a page to show which nozzles are blocked.
  4. If the nozzle check pattern is OK, select Done to finish the check and go back to the menu.
    If there are gaps or faded lines in the pattern, select Clean the Printhead.
  5. Leave the printer to complete the cleaning cycle.
  6. If the quality has not improved, please try running the cleaning cycle 2-3 more times.
  1. On your computer, go to the Start menu and click on Settings / Control Panel.
  2. Select Devices & Printers on the settings menu.
  3. Select the model being used on the printer tab and click Manage to access the printer menu.
  4. Go to Printing Preferences then click on the Service tab.
  5. Click Printer Services on the next window and select Clean Printheads.
  6. Allow the printer to complete the cleaning cycle.
  7. If the quality has not improved, please try running the cleaning cycle 2-3 more times.

Manually cleaning the printhead

In addition to performing a cleaning cycle, there is a way to clean the printhead manually if your cartridge has one built-in. Cartridges with a built-in printhead are often manufactured by HP and Canon. Note: To avoid ink stains on your hands, we recommend wearing gloves before attempting to clean the printhead.

1. Take a cotton bud and dampen with some warm water. Then gently wipe around the area of the printhead at the base of the cartridge.
2. Afterwards, dab the printhead onto a clean absorbent paper kitchen towel until the ink begins to filter through. The following colours should be visible on the kitchen towel:

For the black cartridge - a full black oval shape

For the tri-colour cartridge - 3 distinct oval or round shapes should be seen coloured cyan, magenta and yellow

Printhead cartridge Non-Printhead cartridge

If you are still experiencing problems, please contact us for further assistance.

Categories: Product support