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Friday, 04 March 2011


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I’d need a very large bag for my Epson SP 9900! You should Google ‘puddling heads Epson’ for tips on keeping print heads humidified. This works a treat on models like the SP4000, which I also have. (Only use distilled water.)

The best way to avoid head clogs in Epson printers is to not buy an Epson printer. 5 years ago I bought an Epson photo printer and it always said the ink was out prematurely even when you could clearly see there was still up to half a tank left. The only problem was that the printer ceased to work at all until you replaced the ink with a brand new one. If it said the yellow was out, it wouldn't let you print black & white unless you replaced the yellow. I refused to replace half-filled cartridges with new ones and tossed it. About a year later I found out there wad a class action suit against Epson for fraud. I joined it and in the settlement I was able to receive...wait for it...20% off new cartridges from the Epson online store. What a joke!!! You're telling me they couldn't have updated the firmware to allow you to use all the ink you paid for? I guess not. I vowed to never buy another Epson product.

Hmzzzz, in Holland when relative humidity drops beow 48 you are printing in a climate chamber. And yes I have done just that. Printer in question did not mind. I did however......design specs for this particular Ed don't seem to include arid climates :-).

Greetings, Ed

I haven't had any clogs or problems with my 3880 for the six months it's been running. I've always kept a humidifier running just outside the room where the printer is located, not specifically for the printer, just general comfort level. This post makes me wonder if the higher humidity level is responsible for my so far trouble free operation.


That solution sounds very much like humidifiers that I know some people recommend on string instruments... For example:


But I like the sponge and jar idea much better! What a cool hack!


Living on the Gulf coast for years, I never had a clog problem with my Epson 4000. Although the firmware sometimes insisted I do an unnecessary cleaning. When I moved to Colorado with very low humidity I did have clogs. This is a very useful idea. Thanks!

Richard, What did your prints look like when you had this problem? A friend bought my old P2200 and it worked fine for him for a while but now he's getting horizontal banding (across the print), light stripes where the ink looks like it isn't blending properly and wider dark stripes that appear normal. It never did that when I had it. Reading about your "humidity" problem I wonder if that is what he is experiencing.

Your local cigar purveyor has little packets about the size of a business card that would keep the humidity in that 'rig' to 70% for a while; at least a month, if not more. They're about a dollar a pop. Worth trying, and relatively accurate at holding that humidity. No external dampness that might be problematic, like a wet sponge.

Epson seems to like to put their engineering effort into the parts that affect the saleable specs, then cut corners elsewhere--like their scanners that come with cheap useless film holders. Why? Feh. If I need a digital color print, I'll use a mail order service, or a local lab. For b&w I've still got my trusty old D5XL behind me.

Seems a good idea to try.

I was told also to let the printer plug in and power on would help as well.

Any other strategy here?

Half of my ink for my R1800 is used to do those cycles. For occasional use, Epson is really not nice. It always need some cycles. It is a bit like go to darkroom to print a few photo. It does not worth it.

Unfortunately for occasional use, you really cannot follow Jake advice to not buy Epson. For Epson printer, you can easily get some advice (like forget some setting after 3 months). I bet also Adobe product has extensively tested with this brand (or if not many would immediately chase after them).

A bit stuck here (for both the printer and me).

I have a R2880 after giving up on my HP 9180 when HP decided to forget they ever made a 13 inch printer and have not had any clogs. On the Epson list on Yahoo, the experts over there claim that head clogs were mainly a problem with the old quick drying inks like the Durabrite (IIRC). The new inks generally don't clog.

The R2880 produces absolutely stunning prints, better than the 9180 which wasn't bad by any means. Right now you are limited to the Canon or Epson printers in 13 inch.


Jake, I'm still not on the inkjet bandwagon, but it is my understanding that things have gotten better. Especially in the past year or two. Can anyone back this up? Am I mistaken?

I tell you, I've had two head clogs so dar this winter. And the only thin I can recommend for it is Chlor Tripolon and lemon juice.. The diluted sea-water up the nose solution works well too. As does Guinness an a good sleep, BUT nothing beats a long shower and hearty nasal evacuation over the drain as long as you lotion up well and floss afterwards.
I hate head clogs.

Not that kind of head clog...oh, never mind. Take two aspirin and come back in the morning!


More information needed: what's the vintage of these clogging printers? What model? Dye or pigment?

My impression from following Epson printers for several years is that the issue of clogging Epson printers was attacked and solved by Epson a couple years ago or more. My 3880 hasn't even needed a cleaning cycle in the six or eight months since I bought it.

This isn't to say that someone won't chime in here with a story of a new and clogged Epson. But from what I've been reading around the Interwebs, Epsons are no longer any worse than any other brand.

Beyond a head clog if you humidity drops below 40% it will affect the actual paper. I have done testing for most inkjet paper companies and all confirm that extreme humidity drops can and does cause issues with total ink load.... so if you make an icc in the summer months at a nice 50 or 60% rel humidity and in the winter it hits something like 15 or 20% or the 10% I sometimes see here in Vermont things are going to look very different... When I was beta testing for Crane we discovered this issue on the pre release of their inkjet paper line several years ago.... as a result I store all paper in a controlled area or like my friends at the Salto Press in Belgium do give new or unbalanced paper a few days to get to proper humidity before printing.

Stephen Schaub

Richard actually includes 2 valuable tips - dust cover and moisture.

I've found a simple dust cover helps a great deal to prevent clogs and keep dust off the dozens of moving parts, especially the rollers. There are custom covers available on ebay, but any covering, even a sheet will help a lot.

For stubborn clogs, a bit of Windex (ammonia based glass cleaner), on the head parking sponge thingy, works wonders.

Google Epson printer cleaning for many in-depth articles.

I must be extremely lucky. I have had Epson Printers for what seems a lifetime now and to my best recollection have had only two head clogs. I keep the printers running at all times but I don't know if this has anything to do with lack of clogs.

I live in Front Range Colorado (Fort Collins) where the humidity is always low and in summer the combination of 90+heat and perhaps 15% humidity should kill the printers based on what I have read in these forum comments. But, at least in my case, it does not.

As I said, maybe I am just lucky


A printer in a bag... Other than the Guinness, anything for us folks whose printer is not in a basement or closet?

This post suddenly has become of vast interest to me. A friend outright gave me an Epson R800 he was having all kinds of troubles with, mostly software issues with a new Mac, and he just gave up. When I received it, it worked OK on my older Macs, but began having banding problems and a variety of color drop-out issues which have been a real hair-puller. My friend is living in the ever humid American South, whereas I'm living in the super-dry American Northern Midwest; at least it's 'skin-itchy-dry' for most of the year.

Taking my own advice above, while picking up a few 'ropes' to smoke today, I bought a few of those dollar-a-pop humidity packages, cleaned out my heads (yet again), and just opened the lid and tossed one in next to the ink cartridges, then threw a plastic trash bag over the whole deal. As per Mike, I wonder if 70% is a little too much humidity, but I am betting that my less than hermetically sealed jury rig will bleed some of that off, altho it may not last a month then. Time will tell, and I look forward to trying to print after a few weeks out of town on assignment and we'll see if it stays 'supple'.

This might be the time to mention that I virtually never ever sell prints! All my commercial work ends up being given to the ad agency, PR firm, or whoever, as digital files. I DO print out 'contact sheets' with file numbers underneath, and send them along with the gold CD's of the work, which people really like. All I really need, is that the printer outputs something in the ballpark, I'm literally never end up doing any kind of 'Ctein' job on anything. Most of my clients are looking for composition and facial expression, and pretty much figure they, or their pre-press people, will change anything they want to concerning color or contrast.

Having said that, and to Jakes point above, I was actually using a bargain basement Canon that cost about 50 bucks, to print out my contact sheets, and I never, ever had any clogging problems of any kind (even after weeks and weeks of letting it sit), the cartridges were cheap, and there were just two of them, a tri-color, and a black!

Eventually, that cheapie Canon blew up, just plain wore out, and rather than mess with the Epson even more, I found a discontinued Canon that B&H sold me new, including shipping, for $35.50! Same cartridge set up, and yep, plugged it turned it on, and it's happily printing away, no jams or plugs, even better color and sharpness.

What does this tell me? I guess, if I ever want to try and do what I would consider professional level digital printing at home, I might be predisposed to try the high-end Canon stuff rather than the Epson; but until that time comes along, I'd rather not even think about it. BTW, the Canons are VERY susceptible to color shift unless you use Canon paper, again, based on my needs, something I can deal with.

"I was actually using a bargain basement Canon that cost about 50 bucks, to print out my contact sheets, and I never, ever had any clogging problems of any kind (even after weeks and weeks of letting it sit), the cartridges were cheap, and there were just two of them, a tri-color, and a black!"

That's a dye ink printer, which you're unlikely to ever have any clogging with, as the inks are liquid. It's the pigment ink printers that have all the problems.


It seems to me for the cost of high end printers and inks these problems should be fixed by the manufacturers and not by the buyer with methods like sweater bags, jar lids and little pieces of sponge.

Would anyone buy a high end luxury automobile that you had to use scotch tape to hold the glove box shut?

Thanks Mike! This might be the moment I tell everyone I was so disinterested in spending all the time, money, and monkeying around to output high-end prints at home, I wasn't even paying attention to the difference between pigment and ink! Duh, my bad...

But I guess it goes to show you, as an old timer in the business, I'd shy away from all that for the same reason I never processed transparencies at the studio or tried to do color printing: I want to get paid for taking the picture, and would rather buy the rest of the services when needed and add on a fee and pass it on! Provided I can find the quality level I need from a purveyor...

When I read what Ctein goes through in his weekly columns, I just think "Yikes", that man's a genius, but he's so far away from what I want to do, it ain't funny! Glad people like him exist tho, to buy services from!

That's a dye ink printer, which you're unlikely to ever have any clogging with, as the inks are liquid. It's the pigment ink printers that have all the problems.

Worst printer I ever had for clogging was the dye-based Epson Stylus Photo 890. Two cleaning cycles and the carts were empty.

I'm now on my seventh Epson model.

Well I googled "puddling heads Epson" as suggested by Ger above. Guess what is at the top of the first page? Yep, "The Online Photographer: A Tip: Avoiding Head Clogs with Epson Printers"

That Google machine is just scary good at getting new stuff indexed, and it seems to love TOP.

Just chipping in to add to what others have said. I've had an Epson 4000 for donkeys years. I think it had a bad reputation for head clogging, but I haven't really experienced that, and it's probably due, as seems borne out by others, to the humidity. I'm in a middle European climate where humidity never drops very low, and my workplace is well ventilated with no air conditioning. The printer sat unused for 18 months at one point and did get clogged, unsurprisingly, but one power cleaning cycle along with the "windex" solution cleared that. I don't print a lot, and it's mainly in bursts, so I do tend to print a nozzle check regularly if I'm not using it. That might help as well - I don't know.

I've owned 2 Epson printers and I spent more time cleaning clogged heads than printing. I've since switched to Canon printers and this solved my clogged head problems without resorting to any special procedures.

I've owned an Epson r1900 since shortly after it first came out, and I have never had any head clogging problems. I often leave it unused for a month at a time (occasionally longer). I tend to print a lot over a day or two and then don't print anything for a while. Never had a single problem. Ink in those tiny cartridges is expensive, but I knew that was the case before purchasing the printer.

I do run a humidifier in the winter (which just happens to be fairly close to my printer)and I don't cool the house below 78F in the summer, so maybe that helps. Perhaps this issue has improved with later model printers? Or is it the particular type of pigment ink used in the r1900?

I'm currently looking for a new printer that I can use for B&W, so this discussion is very interesting to me.

- Marty

"That Google machine is just scary good at getting new stuff indexed, and it seems to love TOP."

That's probably because I don't cheat AT ALL. I don't do a thing for SEO that isn't organic.


It's interesting the problems people are having with thier Epsons. I live in the high desert where the humidity is rarely above 30% and have had two clogs in the last 18 months on my 3880. That's with taking no precautions at all. I never knew humidity was supposed to cause such problems. Now you've got me all worried!

Figures that I read this post, try to print a photo with my 2880, and experience my first head clog ever (and it has been really dry and cold here too). Solved it with a cleaning, but now have to order more ink. Might have to look into a solution for our dry winter spells...

I have used a somewhat similar solution-slipping a Guitar Humidifier next to the head and covering the printer with a plastic sheet. This solved my recurring problems with my 4000. Have not had any issues with my 3800.


I cleaned my heads on my Epson last time I posted, and threw humidity packet in there from the cigar shop, then threw a plastic garbage bag over the whole deal...

Tried printing today (about a week later), and everything worked fine, it would have usually clogged by now based on how dry it is here in the winter...

FYI, checked the packet, and it's pretty stiff, meaning it's probably not got much 'oomph' left in it. I'm thinking that with my not very hermetically sealed construct, you might need two of these a month in a very dry winter climate.

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