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Cleaning and Maintaining HP C8842A and other TIJ 2.5 Cartridges

Published: December 21, 2010

Updated 5/14/2020

The most common problem we have with address printers is poor print quality!  This comes from people not understanding proper cleaning and handling of HP TIJ 2.5 cartridges like HP C8842A and SFM 42A.

None of the printers in the industry do a good job of properly cleaning and capping the cartridge.  Some of them do nothing at all to even try, like the fixed head printers!

Thankfully that problem is easy to fix, thanks to a video and a few easy-to-follow directions!

1st try using your printer’s cleaning method.  In your manual, it’s often referred to as purging or cleaning the cartridge.  If you need a manual, 1st take a look in the operator manual section at SuppliesForMailers.com.  If you do not see it, hit the chat button, or send us an email.  At this time we do not have them all online but we can send them to you.  Also, look for your machine’s alternate name.  If you still can not get a good print quality, then try manually cleaning the cartridge.  A link to a copy of the instructions and be found in the Addressing Ink section of our online store so you can find it while shopping or below the video


Click here to open the Cartridge Maintenance and Handling Instructions in a separate window for printing or downloading.

Print Cartridge Maintenance and Handling

Print Cartridge Cleaning


A key to maintaining good print quality is proper cleaning of the print cartridge. During printing ink- spray, paper fibers, and dust can build up on the print cartridge.  These can eventually degrade the print quality. When this occurs, the print cartridge should be wiped with a wet fiberless cloth.

Wipe slowly across the long axis with the print cartridge facing down (as shown). Wipe from the back of the cartridge where the contacts are to the front. Do not apply excessive force, as this could scratch or bend the nozzle area. Do not wipe through old ink!

A Cloth Should Be:

  • Soft
  • Fiberless
  • Moist with water
  • (de-ionized is best, but tap works)

Should NOT Be:

  • Abrasive
  • Made of small fibers
  • Dry or containing
  • chemical additives

The cloth must be soft so that it does not scratch the print cartridge. It should be fiberless because small fibers from the cloth can be left behind and block the nozzles of the print cartridge. The cloth must be moistened with liquid or it may scratch the print cartridge. Scratches on the print cartridge prevent the ink from coming out of the nozzle straight. If the ink drops do not come out of the nozzles straight they will not land on the paper in the proper place causing fuzzy text. De-ionized water is better than tap water because tap water contains minerals that can leave behind deposits in the chambers. During wiping the water cleans out the nozzles and the firing chambers. A small amount of water mixes with the ink in the chambers.  Cartridge cleaning kits (wipes and de-ionized water in spray bottle) can be purchased at SuppliesForMailers.com or by clicking here.

Purging the Nozzles:

If the print cartridge sits inactive for a period of time, ink may dry in the nozzles. Dried ink clogging a nozzle is called an ink plug. As a result of the ink plug, white streaks will be visible in the printed text or graphic. Printing alone may not remove ink plugs from the nozzles. To obtain better print quality, purge the ink plug. This is accomplished by wiping the nozzle plate until the ink is drawn out and absorbed into the cloth. Then print a few lines of text or graphics at high resolution.


This purging operation as well as wiping the print cartridge with a wet cloth should be done after every extended period of downtime in order to prevent unacceptable levels of print quality.

  • Wipe the print cartridge with a moist cloth (see wiping procedure).
  • Print a few lines of text in a higher resolution (for example 600×600 dpi). The higher resolutions (for example 600 dpi) exercise more nozzles and push more ink out.


Preferred: Place the print cartridge in a Tupperware container with a damp sponge or cloth to prevent drying out.

Alternate: Place the cartridge in a storage clip Click here to purchase a storage clip

When the print cartridge is ready to be used again the print cartridge may need to be cleaned as instructed earlier.

Click here to open the Cartridge Maintenance and Handling Instructions in a separate window for printing or downloading.

SuppliesForMailers.com offers a variety of ink cartridges for addressing systems!

The following approximate life of an inkjet cartridge is based on 3 lines of 20 characters at 10-point size per address

600 x 600 DPI50,000 addresses
300 x 600 DPI100,000 addresses
200 x 600 DPI150,000 addresses
150 x 600 DPI200,000 addresses

NOTE: These figures can vary greatly, depending on the font selected and the size of the “address”.

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