Printer Tip: Cleaning your Print Heads the Cheap&Smart Way

If you use the printer's internal cleaning utils (if they are available for Linux at all), you are likely to lose a lot of ink down the drain. And you usually can't even chose which color to clean. But can do it much cheaper:
  1. Open GIMP.
  2. Create a new full size page (e.g. A4 or Letter).
  3. Change the foreground colour to the color that's making the problem. Use the CMYK color picker and you can e.g. just pcik Yellow or Magenta, which your printer uses. I had a problem with yellow. See the "Y" on 100% on the left side.
  4. Fill the entire page with the chosen foreground color.
  5. If you can, go to the printer settings,
  6. set the Quality to the Highest setting.
  7. set the Malfunctioning Color e.g. +50.
  8. set the maximum dpi.
  9. Print the page, better twice in a row, that's more efficient unless there's just a minor skip in the color. Then keep printing single pages until the color comes back nicely.

Worked great on my Canon MP610! And it does not only save ink from the colors you spare the cleaning, it usually also saves ink from the color your cleaning. Also the ink goes onto the paper and not somewhere in the spongue inside your printer, that has a limited size. And that sponge is known to be the first part to cause problems in Canon printers: At some point it's reported as full and the printer stops working. (You can reset the print counter, but then ink might come out of your printer at some point.)

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