All printers begin to diminish over time. Print-outs can become grainy or have lines, or show too much of one color or another. If you’ve already tried cleaning with the Windows maintenance option on your computer, but your Canon Pixma printer (series MP500, MP800) is still acting up, follow the instructions below to manually clean your print head. After allowing a day or so for cleaning, you will feel like you bought a new printer.
With the printer turned on, open your printer cover and remove the ink cartridges. Place the cartridges in a zip lock bag for storage (this is just to keep them from drying out or leaking).
With the ink removed, release the gray lever to the left of the ink container in your printer, then gently pull the printhead out. The print head is the container where you install your ink cartridges. Be careful not to touch gold electrical contacts in back.
Fill a small bowl of water, then stand the print head inside the water, covering the bottom of the print head completely. Let it soak for 30-60 minutes (the water will turn very black). When this is done, empty the water and refill with clean water, then let it soak for another hour. If water is still black, repeat process and try moving the print head around in the water (sort of wade it back and forth) to help remove the rest of the ink.
Note: Some people prefer to use isopropyl alcohol for cleaning the print head, but it’s really unnecessary. Water alone will do the trick.
Remove print head from water, then dab lightly with a napkin or cotton swab.
Turn print head upside down, and let it drip dry overnight on top of a napkin or hand towel.
Once completely dry, replace the print head in your printer.
You might need to run a Windows Maintenance Cleaning before printing, but other than that, you are done. Your print-outs should be like new again. If not, you still have the option to buy a new printhead.