In the end of this year, I will have to leave my inkjet Epson SC-P800 at home while I will travel for half a year. I read that inkjet printers should not be left without work for more than a week otherwise inks will get dry and printer head will be corrupted without possibility to be fixed (or it will cost insane money).

I have one thought on how to avoid this — I could ask someone to print one test page per week, or do it by myself view remote software.

However, what are other solutions could be? If I decide to put it in the box and just leave if for half a year, what is the possibility of it to become useless when I come back?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Any idea if this is true of other inkjets? I'm about to leave for 12 months and I was going to leave my HP 7612 alone. \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 15:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Itai, it's true of all inkjets. You learn this when you leave one alone for 12 months. (sigh). \$\endgroup\$
    – inkista
    Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 20:24
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @inkista It used to be that at least some brands (HP, I think) had printheads integrated into the cartridge. I'm not sure if that's still true. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 21:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mattdm Ah, well, then let's say true of all inkjets with separate heads and cartridges. \$\endgroup\$
    – inkista
    Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 23:29

5 Answers 5


Ink dries. Small air/ink channels can clog when ink dries. Printer dots (and therefore nozzles) are really small. That's pretty much the reasoning behind having to constantly use an inkjet printer to avoid having the heads clog. You need to keep the ink flowing.

You can have someone visit your printer and run a print every week or so. It could be that it doesn't need to be quite that frequent. My Canon Pro-100, a dye-based inkjet printer, seems to be ok, so long as I remember to print/clean at least once a month, but is probably happier with weekly printing. But that's just from my personal feelings from having soaked, rinsed, and scrubbed a ton of dried ink out of clogged vintage fountain pens while restoring them.

If the same logic for fountain pens holds for inkjet cartridges and printheads, I'd say that you either make sure someone regularly prints with the printer, or you consider completely flushing/cleaning out the printheads with some kind of cleaning solution, and depending on the type of head, store it dry*, or store it wet (i.e., with cleaning solution in cartridges) to keep the heads from drying out. There are various reports on the efficacy of storing the head in an airtight container with a moisture source (think humidor), but it can depend on how the individual printer is designed. See this post on a pcreview.co.uk mesageboard thread, which mentions the three basic types of printer designs and the strategies for the three different kinds (permanent head, semi permanent head, and integrated head and cartridge). The strategy about is for permanent head printers.

The whole point, though, is to keep ink from drying in the tiny channels.

Obviously, the relative humidity, length of time, and how the printer is stored is going to affect how much the heads dry out. You'll probably want to make sure it's in a cool dry place, and possibly wrapped in plastic.

Worse comes to worst, you could consider simply purchasing a replacement print head off eBay, although in some cases (like my Pro-100), it may be cheaper to just get a new printer.

I'd recommend poking about the printerknowledge.com messageboard, and seeing what they've got to say about storing Epson printers, and what methods may or may not work for your situation. I googled up these threads on that site:

*Going through those threads, apparently even Canon ships a brand new head to you with some lubricating agent in the head in a hermetically sealed pouch--dry is NOT GOOD.


It sounds like keeping this printer alive is a burden that you don't even want to put on the shoulders of somebody else. Instead, use the situation to your advantage and the person taking care of your printer.

print 1 test page per week

Why would you want to print a test page?

I will travel for half a year

I'm sure there's somebody in your family or friends who is interested in pictures of this experience.

Give them the printer and send them a weekly email with your top images and let them choose their favourite one to print on the printer.

This way you stay connected to home and in contrast to only emailing images home (or otherwise sharing them digitally), you'll have an assortment of roughly 30 images printed out when you arrive back home. This also helps non-tech people like grand parents to follow you along visually.

or do it by myself view remote software

That's an option, too, if there's nobody able to operate the printer and the same applies here: print images from your journey, not test pages.

Even if the printer does not deliver the highest printing quality, a print from an actual image is still more valuable than a test page.

However, what are other solutions could be?

You could sell the printer and buy a new one when you return. People often sell things when going on a vacation for a very long time.

  • \$\begingroup\$ thank you! >>> Why would you want to print a test page? I think this would take the minimum of the inks while still make head to work to prevent drying. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 7:43

You could turn the printer off, make sure that the head is properly parked and the printer is not placed in too warm and dry place. When you come back, run cleaning and unclog it.

The wasted ink feels terrible, but weekly printing of one page is not necessarily going to be cheap either, especially if you don't seal the head by properly turning the printing off after each printing... There is a risk that the clogs will be permanent, so you need to weigh all factors carefully.

I did this a few times with Epson 3880 and it is till working strong.

  • \$\begingroup\$ do I correctly understand you that if I turn printer off for a long time and then when I start using it run full clean before - everything could be alright? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 6:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ also, do you mean that if i just run print page weekly without turning it off (it would be in sleeping mode) there is still a risk of permanent clogging? because this was my intention - to leave printer in sleeping mode and either to print remotely and (sometimes) to ask someone to turn it on/off for me. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 6:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AlyaksandrStzhalkouski after wasting lots of expensive ink, everything is all right with my printer (Epson 3880). Yours may be different. When you print one page a week, there is also some extra ink wasted (again - on my printer) so in the end the ink wasted on deep cleaning may be less or similar to the amount wasted on weekly printing. One more thing - if the printer is properly switched off, the head is sealed off and somewhat protected from clogging. This is not happening in the standby mode. \$\endgroup\$
    – MirekE
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 16:18

Given my printer experiences , with lack of use, I would suggest sell it and buy a new model when you get back

  • \$\begingroup\$ unfortunately, our market is very small and it is very hard to sell something here for a good price. sending it to the other place would cost enormous money( \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 6:30

Remove the cartridges and print heads (if possible). Seal them off with clear cellophane tape and put them in a sealed plastic bag (remove as much of the air as possible but don’t vacuum seal as you may pull the ink out of and possibly the cartridges and heads.) Put the bag in a refrigerator (not a freezer). Unplug your printer and then go enjoy your vacation.

... better still go see if your vendor has a recommended way to store the printer in question.


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