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Old Mar 5, 2012, 12:34 PM   #1
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Default DIY Cleaning of EPSON R1800

I have owned a couple of the Epson Photo Stylus R1800 printers, and have always been happy with the results when it was working properly. However, it IS a pricey printer and the ink cartridges are small and expensive.

I have taken it in for printing problems in the past, and the service guy took the time to show me what normally happens with these printers, and how to fix them myself.
So I thought I would pass this info along to those who might use it. I think it’s much better to spend a couple of hours fixing your own printer than waiting weeks for its return.

The following procedure can be somewhat messy, so you really need to first unplug the printer ad place it on a good work table with a towel underneath it. Second, you will need a LOT of Q-Tips; a small flashlight (head-mounted style works best); a pair of LONG tweezers; and a long, thin, small-bladed screwdriver. The screwdriver I used was from a set of specialized jewelers screw drivers, the head should be no wider than 1/8th of an inch. A pair of latex gloves is a good idea to avoid getting ink all over your hands….it will happen!

What happens over many months of usage is that two or three small sponge pads become soaked with black ink, then partially dries to a sludge. These sponges, located on the far left and far right of the carriage, are what clean and wipe your nozzles. True, your problem may be elsewhere, but at the very least, you need to thoroughly clean these sponges before giving up or before giving to a repair guy.

Unfortunately, I do not know of a way to partially disassemble the printer to provide better access to these sponges, hence the long screwdriver and tweezers. (Anytime I try to partially disassemble a case like this, things start falling out and I can never get it put back together!).

Open the top and look down to the left. You will see two black areas where these sponges sit. Let me say here that these sponges are quite thin and fragile, so you must be very careful. First get a Q-tip and soak it with some spray cleaner, such as 409 or Fantastic. Soapy water is okay too. You want to get the ink sludge to more of a liquid state to help remove it. If you are careful, you can actually scrape a bit of this dried sludge unto the tip of your screwdriver, then wipe the sludge off the tip with a paper towel. Or, keep wetting the small area until it is good and wet. Start dabbing up the ink with clean Q-Tips. Keep doing this procedure until you can see the sponge is good and wet. Okay, now for the tricky part. Use the tip of your screwdriver to gently move the edges of the sponge away, and from under tabs. Once the sponge is free, grab it with tweezers. You don’t want to have to force or pull anything; do not tear the sponge. Remember the shape of the sponge, and which side goes where….it has a distinctive shape and you will want to put it back in the exact same place. Take the sponge over to the sink and run warm water through it while squeezing to rinse all of the ink from it. Set it aside.

Now with the sponge removed, there is a second layer of material, which seems to look like a compressed felt. Clean this up with Q-Tips, but do NOT try to remove it; just clean old ink residue off of it the best you can. Put the now clean sponge back into place, tucking it under tabs, making sure it sits flat.

Now do the exact same thing to the other sponge right next to the one you just cleaned (again, both of these are on the far left). Since you really can’t use the other end of a Q-Tip without getting ink all over your hands, I used a small pair of diagonal cutters to snip off the used end so that I could then use the other clean side. I must have gone through at least 60 Q-Tips doing this.

So now that you have both left side sponges cleaned up, time to do the ones on the right where the heads park. You will have to first get the head assembly to move over. I did this by plugging in the printer, pushing the ON button, and when it quickly moves way over to the left side (during its set-up procedure) quickly unplug the printer. You should be able to move it over by hand.

There are two sponges now viewable, and both have some sort of metal lacing on them. I did NOT attempt to remove the sponges from these squares. The one on the far right was heavily gunked with dried ink. Again, get it good and wet, and simply use your Q-Tips to clean the pads the best you can. Be careful not to push too hand on this platform as it moves around a bit and is held in place by a spring. You just don’t want to knock it out of position.

With all of these sponges clean, spend some time with a damp Q-Tip to clean out some of the dusty areas and guides inside this area, or use a vacuum clearing with a small brush attachment.

Now bring the printer back to your printer area, plug in power cord and the printer cable. Turn the printer on and let it go through a set-up cycle and re-park the head.
You should probably now go into the print utility software and click on “Auto Clean Nozzles”. You may find that you will have to replace a few cartridges…what can I say. I usually always try to have a spare set on hand; nothing worse than having to stop work to go to the store to buy more damn ink!

You might have to print a few pictures before all the nozzles are working properly, so use plain paper before committing photo paper. I really don’t use my R1800 for photo printing much these days; I find it cheaper to save my ink by going to Kinkos for prints.

One other thing; it’s best to keep your printer turned off when not in use for long periods of time. Also, if your printer is near a return air duct (if you have a home office), then dust and air are travelling THROUGH your printer, drying it up. Personally, I am going to find some sort of large zip-style bag to completely encapsulate my printer when it is not in use. This thing was just too darned expensive (not to mention the ink) not to protect.

Hope this helps, and remember to check these pads once a month for that build up of ink on the sponges.

Patrick McLoad
Houston, Texas
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Old May 7, 2012, 12:30 AM   #2
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Thanks a bunch for the tip. I was wondering why I've had so many nozzle problems lately. Hark!!! Those sponges look narly to say the least!

I'm hoping the applying the cleaning tip to my R1800 will get it printing like new again.

BTW I'm using an Ink Rep CIS system and like it a bunch!
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Old Dec 27, 2012, 2:33 PM   #3
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Default Works Great!

Thanks so much for the tip. I haven't used my Epson R1800 in a few years, so the ink pads were so nasty. Cleaned the print heads prior cleaning per your post. I was getting good prints (even tho the ink cartridges were there for a very long time!), but on larger printing, was getting ink smudges at the start and end. Needless to say, after getting the pads all cleaned and the dust and cat hair out of it, it works like a champ! A+ for you!!
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Old Dec 29, 2012, 3:36 AM   #4
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You may consider a waste ink tank to collect the ink rather than gumming up the pads - they are available on ebay.
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Old Mar 8, 2015, 7:39 PM   #5
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Thanks for posting this. I've been having what I thought were "head strike" problems for the last year and couldn't figure it out. Turns out, your post is EXACTLY what was causing my problems. I ended up even removing the long sponge that runs along the print bed and cleaning that too. Night and day difference. Thanks for taking the time to post about it. You saved me some major frustration!!!!

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