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It's fairly common knowledge that you need to use an inkjet printer every so often to ensure the heads do not block.

My question is, what is every so often; Similarly, what should be printed, clearly it must involve colours. Would something such as the windows test print suffice, although it only contains a tiny amount of colour in the corner.

I've yet to see any guidance from the manufacturers on this matter, for both of these points.

I can't believe this has to be spelt out on what is meant to be a technical site, however let me be clear as possible... I am NOT interested in your opinion, I place no value in it unless you happen to work for a printer manufacturer in which case I'll take that as good as official guidance. If I was only interested in opinions I'd have made no mention of guidance from manufacturers. I want a specific answer to the question 'What is every so often' and 'what should be printed'.

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  • This is an important question but as you have found, there isn't much in the way of official guidance. It will differ a bit by manufacturer due to differences in printer design, ink, etc., so your guidance should probably come from the printer manufacturer's tech support. I suspect answers here will tend to be opinion-based and the question has already been flagged for closure on that basis. FWIW, my own experience with various inkjets has been that printing once/week is adequate, once/month is not. If you don't have something specific to print, I've used ~10 nozzle test patterns. – fixer1234 Jul 5 '15 at 5:31
  • @fixer1234 Actually, I disagree. This is certainly not opinion based, as just because I've been unable to find official guidance this does not mean that it doesn't exist. – R4D4 Jul 5 '15 at 11:42
  • I didn't vote to close, but the opinion-based label doesn't mean there isn't factual information somewhere. In this case, answers will tend to be based on personal experience, which will vary widely (printer design, ink formulation, cartridge age, humidity, etc.). For example, mdszy found that once/month was plenty. My experience at once/month was a clogged head. Particularly without specifying anything in the question other than it's an inkjet, there will be no answer that is both factually correct and optimum for your case. That makes the question overly broad. – fixer1234 Jul 5 '15 at 16:01
  • If the the answers provided are opinionated rather than fact, then this isn't a problem with the question (which unless specifically asking for an opinion), but a problem with the community. However, your statement "there will be no answer that is both factually correct and optimum etc..." along with the possible influences (ink formulation, humidity etc.) that in itself is an answer to the original question.... If somebody asks X and somebody says X the definitive answer is that there is no factually correct answer, is in itself an answer. – R4D4 Jul 5 '15 at 19:03
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It's really a non-issue if you print at least every month or so. Although I have an inkjet printer and have gone many months without printing and it's worked fine the next time I've had to use it. You don't need to waste ink on any kind of routine printing to keep the heads clear. One extremely important thing to do, though, is if you're keeping the printer off for an extended period of time, make sure you turn it off properly and not just unplug it. If you unplug the printer outright, it isn't able to cap the printheads which prevents blockages and drying the ink.

If you do keep the printer off for an extended time and begin to experience issues the next time you use it, most printers have a "clean print head" command of some kind which fixes most issues like that.

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