Brother Printer Head Cleaning

Brother Printer Head Cleaning (2 Easy Methods!)

Over time it is common for the printhead to become clogged up with ink, causing print quality to rapidly decline. Occasionally cleaning your Brother printhead can prevent all sorts of quality related issues and help keep your printer running smoothly.

Brother Printer Head Cleaning

To perform Brother printer head cleaning, start by conducting a Print Quality Check followed by running the Ink self-cleaning function. If printhead quality issues persist, perform a manual clean by using a syringe and custom tubing to carefully flush cleaning fluid through each of the ink nozzles.

The ‘printhead’ is the component that receives an image and then transfers the correct amount of ink to a page. Have you begun to notice your print quality starting to decline?

I highly recommend you start with method 1 below and only proceed to method 2 as needed.

We will start with the easier self-cleaning steps and then work our way to the more involved manual cleaning steps.

Importantly, these steps will work for most Brother models (MFC, DCP, etc).

Method 1: Brother Printer Self-Cleaning

The self-cleaning function allow you to perform printer maintenance directly from your printer, without the need to physically open and handle the device yourself.

This is by far the easiest option and you should always start your process here.

How To Run the Brother Print Quality Check

Let’s kick things off by first running a Print Quality Check so that we can better understand the extent of the issue.

To run the Print Quality Check:

  1. First, if your model has a separate Ink key on the control panel, go ahead and push it. If your model does not have a separate Ink key, select Menu and then use the UP and DOWN arrows until you locate Ink. Then press OK. (For some models, you will need to navigate to General Setup > Maintenance).
  2. Next, use the UP and DOWN arrows and locate Test Print and press OK.
  3. Finally, use the UP and DOWN arrows and select Print Quality. Press OK and then Start.
Brother Printer Print Quality Test

The Print Quality Check will initiate and produce a print out that you can use to identify exactly which ink color(s) has quality issues.

How To Clean Brother Printhead Using Self-Cleaning Function

To initiate the self-cleaning process, you will need to navigate to Ink on your Brother Printer.

  1. First, if your model has a separate Ink key on the control panel, go ahead and push it. If your model does not have a separate Ink key, select Menu and then use the UP and DOWN arrows until you locate Ink. Then press OK. (For some models, you will need to navigate to General Setup > Maintenance).
  2. Next, use the UP and DOWN arrows and locate Cleaning and press OK.
  3. Finally, use the UP and DOWN arrows and select BLACKCOLOR, or ALL depending on the ink cartridge you want to clean and press OK.

Notably, if you have a touchscreen, press Ink or press the Ink multi-color icon and then press Ink Cleaning.

It is important to note that you may need to perform the Brother Ink Cleaning multiple times depending on how clogged the printhead is. Some users have even reported needing to run it over 10 times!

While this method unfortunately result in the loss of a fair amount of ink, it is often highly effective.

In the event the printer heads remain clogged, try turning the printer off overnight. Often times this will allow the caked on ink to soften up a bit, at which point you can try running the self-cleaner again.

How To Align Brother Printhead

Brother print heads can also become misaligned over time. This is particularly true following a printhead cleaning.

In most cases, your printer will still print but the output will appear slightly “off”. However, in more extreme cases, your printer may not print at all leading to your Brother printer printing blank pages.

To align your Brother printhead:

  1. First, if your model has a separate Ink key on the control panel, go ahead and push it. If your model does not have a separate Ink key, select Menu and then use the UP and DOWN arrows until you locate Ink. Then press OK. (For some models, you will need to navigate to General Setup > Maintenance).
  2. Next, use the UP and DOWN arrows and locate Improve Print Quality and then Alignment and press OK.
  3. Then, use the UP and DOWN arrows to display the paper size that you are attempting to align.
  4. Once the paper size has been selected, choose either Basic alignment or Advanced alignment.

Users have indicated that interpreting the alignment print tests can be confusing. If you are having any trouble, check out this Brother printhead alignment guide for additional information.

Method 2: Manual Brother Printer Head Cleaning

Many users will find that using the self-cleaning function is not enough. The ink build up is simply too great and the printhead blockages remain in place.

If you find yourself in this situation, you will need to manually clean the Brother print heads.

Preparing The Brother Printhead For Manual Cleaning

First, before we start, you will need to prepare the printer.

To do so, use the side opening to insert your finger and lift up to open the top of the printer to access the ink cartridge holder.

With the top of the printer open, insert a piece of folded up paper into to the upper lid contact switch slot. This will trick the printer into thinking the top lid is closed.

Folded paper inserted into printer contact switch slot

Now start to print a document from your PC. As soon as the ink cartridges slide towards the middle of the printer, pull the power cord out from the back of the printer.

This will free up the printer compartment and allow you to easily move it from side to side for greater access.

Next, unclip each of the ink cartridges and fully remove them from the printer. It’s a good idea to place the ink cartridges in a sealed plastic bag to prevent the ink from drying.

Even if you suspect there is only one printhead clogged, I highly recommend you clean all of the printheads at the same time.

Finally, fold up a paper towel and carefully feed it underneath the ink cartridge housing unit. This will serve to absorb any excess ink, fluid, and debris during the process.

Brother Printer ink cartridge housing unit

Cleaning Brother Printer Head

For the stage, you will need some printhead cleaning solution, a syringe, and some custom tubing.

You can either purchase the solution or create your own by mixing 50% distilled water with 50% isopropyl alcohol.

Importantly, you don’t want to use tap or mineralized drinking water, as those particles may have a negative effect on the heads after a few clean ups. Therefore, it is always good to use distilled water, which you should be easily able to find in any grocery store.

I also recommend you throw on a pair of latex gloves to avoid getting ink on your hands. Ink can be extremely challenging to clean off!

With the ink cartridges removed, the ink nozzles will become exposed.

Brother ink nozzles

It is extremely common for these ink nozzles to become backed up and clogged!

Using the 50-50 liquid mixture, start by slowly allowing 5-10 drops to drip directly on top of each of the nozzles.

With a Q-tip in hand, carefully clean and dry the outer nozzle surroundings.

Next, fill up your syringe with the cleaning fluid and firmly attach one end of the tubing to the syringe and the other end to the ink nozzle you are attempting to clean.

Flushing Brother ink nozzles with a syringe

Slowly and carefully, begin to flush out the ink nozzle. DO NOT push to hard as you can damage the printer.

This is where that paper towel you previously set in place underneath the ink cartridge holder will come into play! You will notice that as the blockage begins to break free, the fluid will make its way through the printhead and onto the paper towel.

Once you have completed this process for each of the ink nozzles, make sure all components are completely dry before reinstalling them it back into the printer.

Go ahead and re-run the Printer Quality Check. The print heads should now be clean and the print quality issues should be solved!

Long Term Printhead Maintenance

Manual Brother printhead cleaning can prove to be a bit time consuming. It is therefore always a good idea to perform regular maintenance on your printer in an effort to prevent any future quality issues, such as smeared ink or printing blank pages.

Here are a few steps you can take to help prevent a future blockage:

  1. When your printer sits around without being used for a long period of time, it increases the chances of the ink drying. You should aim to print at least a page every week or so to keep the print heads clear.
  2. If there is ever a stretch of time where you are fairly certain you will not be using your printer, go ahead and remove the ink cartridges. This will prevent longer term ink leakage. You can keep the ink cartridges in a sealed plastic bag for long periods of time without issue.
  3. Additionally, when you are not actively using the printer, turn it off! When the printer is left on, it can warm up the ink cartridges causing the ink to leak out and later dry.
  4. Finally, remember that you can and should run the self-cleaning Brother Printer function BEFORE your run into a quality issue. By running the self-cleaning function regularly, you can help keep the print heads clear and clean.

Conclusion

Attempting to print, only to discover your Brother Printer either won’t print or has low print quality can be frustrating. Here’s how to clean your printhead!

To perform Brother printer head cleaning, start by conducting a Print Quality Check followed by running the Ink self-cleaning function. If printhead quality issues persist, perform a manual clean by using a syringe and custom tubing to carefully flush cleaning fluid through each of the ink nozzles.

If for any reason, your print quality doesn’t improve, you can try entering your model number into the official Brother Printer manual lookup for additional information.

Additionally you can try contacting Brother’s Customer Service team at (877) 276-8437.

As a last resort, if you need to replace your printer, be sure to first verify your Brother Printer warranty plan.

I hope your found these cleaning methods helpful! Feel free to share any feedback in the comments below.

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