Today my printer (Epson SC-P800) started to leave green dirt on 4x6 prints (I did not try another size of paper except A4 only for head and paper guide cleaning). I print regularly for the last month and I printed yesterday some 5x7 sheets, and today's first three 4x6 sheets come out perfectly. Then I started noticing small amount of this greeny dirt and at the same time noticed 'low ink' warning for LK.

I decided to print some more sheets wondering "what is this dirt?"... And as it still was on prints I decided to change LK and changed to a new cartridge. However, this did not help. After printing couple more 4x6s, I ran head cleaning and paper guide cleaning but this did not help either. Already printed about 5 sheets and dirt is still there.

Any ideas?

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  • 1
    You might want to resize the picture above to about 50% so it loads faster. It takes about 10 seconds on my computer.
    – person27
    Jan 3, 2016 at 4:42
  • @JoshuaLamusga one trick for quick resizing is to link to the 'm' version of the file. i.stack.imgur.com/y9bD4.jpg is a full size version, while i.stack.imgur.com/y9bD4m.jpg is the same image, just downsized and easier to load.
    – user13451
    Jan 3, 2016 at 18:40
  • @JoshuaLamusga its 'm' for medium. There's also 's' for 'small square' - i.stack.imgur.com/y9bD4s.jpg which is useful for galleries (everything lines up right in a square grid).
    – user13451
    Jan 3, 2016 at 20:44
  • @JoshuaLamusga I wrote up this bit on meta as I've done it a few times. Does this help?
    – user13451
    Jan 3, 2016 at 21:10
  • @MichaelT Sure, but it was never a problem of mine to begin with :)
    – person27
    Jan 5, 2016 at 2:49

5 Answers 5


I was able to identify the name for this ('Head strike') and reason - curly paper. Paper should be flat otherwise it touches printer head and ink smudges it.

I found solution that works for me: in printer driver settings set Platen Gap to Wide (as on screenshot).

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That's not dirt. That is ink. The paper is either curling enough to touch the printer head, where there always seems to be a little bit of smudged ink, or there is ink leaking onto other parts of your printers internals (such as the rollers) and transferring it to the paper. The later case usually leaves a stripe (solid or dashed) down the entire sheet of paper, the former leaves the type of mark demonstrated in your photo.


Likely the rollers, pads or other surfaces contacting paper need to be cleaned; check the manual for your printer.

A technique I've used on another model printer is to put a single sheet of paper in the feed, lightly spray it with rubbing alcohol, and feed it through. It worked well.


That is a head strike. A pretty bad one too. It always happens in the beginning of the print when the paper is curled - usually towards the end of the paper roll. Usually you will see them as lines. Usually look green or a dark color which is from all the ink colors mixing. Best way to clean the heads is with Windex. Windex dissolves the ink quickly.

If you can't move the print head away from the end, unplug the printer when the heads move to the center. Then you can manually move it back and forth. Get a paper towel and fold it in half, spray the paper towel with Windex until it's pretty damp and slide it under the print head. You can now move the print heads over it slowly. Not too many times and then repeat a few times. It is not recommended to use paper towel because the fibers can stick to the heads especially cheap paper towels.


No accepted answer here. I gave my printer to local Epson service. They said they were not able to reproduce my problem, but they "cleaned" my printer. Since then i almost never has this problem repeated.

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