The Magic Solution For Inkjet Clogs

by : Barry Shultz

Have you ever been told that Windex (A popular glass cleaner in the US also popular in the UK is Windolene) works great for dissolving dried ink? Well if you haven't heard it before I am telling you now. However, it is not the "Magic Solution", but it's close.

What is Windex? It's water, ammonia and some blue food coloring for the most part. The magic is in the ammonia!

Ammonia is pretty nasty stuff. It can almost bring you back from a coma just by smelling it and it's the main ingredient in smelling salts. Not oddly enough ammonia is used as a reactive agent in many invisible ink formulas. As a side note, never mix ammonia with bleach. It will produce chlorine gas, a very dangerous substance used in World War I as a chemical weapon. Ever heard of mustard gas?

Ok, enough with the chemistry lesson. What I'm saying is even though ammonia is great for dissolving ink please be careful when using it.

Most of the toughest clogs can be fixed by soaking the print head in a bowl of a 50/50% solution of ammonia and water overnight. If that doesn't work you can soak it in pure ammonia for up to 1 hour then a 100% water rinse.

If your print head is not removable you can inject a diluted ammonia mix (10% ammonia and 90% de-ionized water, or just use Windex) into an empty cartridge and run print head cleanings to get the solution into the print head. If the clog does not open leave the printer sit overnight and try it again the next day. Many times the clog will release overnight as the ammonia solution goes to work.

Some people will tell you to use alcohol to unclog cartridges and print heads. While it may work for a short while the alcohol will actually increase the chances of another clog. This is because the alcohol will tend to dry out the plastics and metals in the head. Alcohol will only fix very mild clogs that could probably be fixed with an aggressive print head cleaning. If you want to do the job right use the ammonia solutions as I discussed above.