Printer Won’t Print Black Ink

Sometimes it happens that you are in a rush and need to print important documents only to discover that your printer won’t print black ink. To make it worse, you don’t have an extra printer to come to your rescue. The truth is, it can be very frustrating, especially if it’s your first time to encounter such a problem.

But guess what? This is a very common problem. And because it is common, it means there are many solutions available. However, not every solution might work for your printer since printers do not print black ink are many causes.

So, in this guide, we’re going to look at the causes of printers not printing black ink and how to fix the problem.

Printer Won’t Print Black Ink

printing documents

Your printer is great when it works. But what happens when your printer does not print in black ink? The first thing you will want is to know the reasons behind this problem. Here are some of the common causes of this issue. 

Low Levels of Black Ink

One of the common reasons your printer may fail to print black ink could be because the ink levels are very low. You see, black ink tends to run out faster than you expect. This is true, especially if you are always printing most of your documents with black ink. 

Additionally, in some cases, your printer may refuse to print black ink if some of its cartridges don’t have enough ink. For instance, if your printer uses different cartridges, it will not print black ink if one of them is empty.

A Damaged or Dirty Printhead

A printhead is an important component of every digital printer. It is designed to spray, write, or even drop ink onto your paper. However, sometimes the printhead can clog when small amounts of dust or ink dry up and collect in the nozzle. And as a result, your printer may not print black ink.

Additionally, if the printhead of your printer is not aligned properly or has not been calibrated to the printer, it could make your printer not print black.

Expired Ink Cartridges

Surprised to hear that ink cartridges also do expire? Unfortunately, it’s true. If using an original printer cartridge, you can use it for 2 years before it expires. However, compatible cartridges boast a shelf life of up to 36 months.

Basically, what happens when the expiration date has passed is that the ink cartridge of your printer stops producing ink the same way it was designed to. This is because the ink tends to dry up slowly, making it impossible to print documents. As such, you may find that your printer just won’t print black ink.

Problems with the Printer Driver

Sometimes, it may not be a problem with your printer’s hardware. Software issues can also cause your printer not to print black ink. For instance, it could be that your printer driver is not up to date. Or, maybe your printer driver has been corrupted.

Basically, a printer driver is software that enables programs on your computer to communicate with your printer. So, when this software is not updated or has been corrupted, your printer may not print black ink.

How to Fix Printer Won’t Print Black Ink Problem

printer with laptop top table

Depending on the cause of the problem, there are different solutions on how you can fix your printer that won’t print black. So, let’s take a look at each of these solutions.

Solution 1: Fixing Ink Level Problems

When your printer fails to print the black ink, it could be that your ink cartridges are empty. But how do you fix ink level problems so that your printer can start printing black ink again? Here is a step-by-step guide to help you.

Step 1: Check your Printer’s Ink Levels

Before anything else, you should start by first checking your printer’s ink levels. You can do this either on your desktop or directly from your printer.

Simply click on your printer software to open the program if using your desktop. Then, choose the option that says “check ink levels.”

On the other hand, you can check the ink levels from your printer screen. Just click on the icon with a teardrop-like shape. However, some printer models have a cartridge icon or an ink levels menu.

Step 2: Identify the Amount of Ink on Each Cartridge

Once you have opened the program for checking the ink levels, it’s time to identify each cartridge’s amount of ink. If all the cartridges have more than a quarter full of ink, then it means that ink level problems are not the cause for your printer not printing black ink.

However, if one of the cartridges or all of them has less than a quarter full of ink, then you will have to change your ink cartridges.

Step 3: Replace your Ink Cartridges

To replace your printer’s ink cartridges, first, open the access door of your cartridge. You can always use your printer’s manual to confirm where the access door is located and how to open it.

Once the access door of your cartridge is open, you can then proceed to remove the ink cartridges with low ink levels. Next, put the new ink cartridge into your printer’s printhead. Make sure it snaps in place and then close the access door.

Step 4: Align your Printer Cartridges

After replacing your ink cartridges, you must align the printer for the best possible printing performance. To align your printer, simply click on the ‘Setup’ icon on your printer’s LCD screen and select ‘Align Printer.’ Then, leave the printer to complete the process.

Step 5: Print a Test Page

Lastly, after replacing the empty ink cartridges and aligning them, make sure to print a test page. It is the only way to confirm if your printer can finally print black ink.

Solution 2: Fixing the Printhead

In some cases, your printer may fail to print black ink even when the ink is full. This could be because the printhead is clogged with dry ink, and it mostly happens when you don’t run your printer very often. So, below are simple steps on how to fix printers with clogged printhead nozzles.

Step 1: Automatically Clean your Printhead

Most printers will find that they come with a cleaning function. So, start by locating the function through your printer’s maintenance menu on the display screen. Next, run the program to clear up the clogs on your printhead, if any.

However, before running the cleaning function program, make sure your printer is loaded with paper. This is because after the program is finished running, your printer will print out a page. And as a result, you will be able to confirm if the problem with your printer ink, not printing, is solved.

Step 2: Clean the Printhead Manually

If cleaning your printhead automatically does not work, the next step would be to try and clean it manually. But of course, you will need a couple of supplies, including water, isopropyl alcohol, paper towels, and a bowl.

Step 3: Turn Off your Printer and Remove Cartridges

Once you have your supplies, switch off and unplug your printer. You don’t want to damage it. Next, open your printer’s access door and gently remove the ink cartridges plus the printhead.

Step 4: Make a Solution of Water and Isopropyl Alcohol

Get your water and isopropyl alcohol and mix them in a bowl in a ratio of 1:1. Adding water to the alcohol simply helps minimize its abrasive effects to ensure it does not damage your printer head.

Step 5: Start Cleaning the Printhead

Take your print head unit and put it inside the bowl with water and an isopropyl alcohol mixture. Make sure the mixture only covers your printhead about half an inch. Then, leave the printhead in the solution for at least 2 minutes so that the dried ink can loosen up. You can also clean your print head in warm water.

Step 6: Dry the Printhead and Test it

Lastly, dry your printhead using paper towels to get rid of any moisture or ink on its surface. After that, put the printhead back into the printer and turn it on. Next, print a test page to confirm if it’s now working.

Solution 3: Fixing Software Issues

If the problem is not the hardware, then it could be the software and, most probably, the printer driver. But how do you fix software issues so that your printer can resume printing black ink? Here is how to do it.

Step 1: Open your Printer’s Troubleshooter

On your computer, type printer in the search box and click on “Printer & scanners.” After that, select ‘troubleshoot your printer’ and then choose your problematic printer. Finally, press the ‘Next’ button and wait for it to find a solution to your problem.

Step 2: Check Out your Printer Driver Settings

A printer driver is a software that enables your computer and printer to communicate. If the drivers are not updated, your printer may have problems printing black ink. So, what you should do is uninstall and then reinstall the drivers.

You can also try changing the settings of your printer drivers, such as choosing “glossy photo paper” if your printer uses two black cartridges. This may trigger your printer to start printing again.

Step 3: Reconfigure your Printer

If the above two steps don’t resolve your printer problem, you should try to reconfigure your printer. You can do this by uninstalling all associated software from your computer. And lastly, set up your printer again from scratch to see if the issue is resolved.


If you hardly ever use your printer, the ink may dry up, and the cartridges may collect dust. And as a result, your printer’s printhead will get clogged up. In some cases, your printer may run out of ink, or the ink cartridge may expire. All these are some of the reasons why your printer won’t print black ink.

However, there is no one-size-fits solution. This means that if your printer is not printing black ink because of software issues, you can’t fix the problem by simply replacing the ink cartridges. Similarly, if what is causing your printer not to print black ink is a blocked printhead nozzle, reconfiguring your printer won’t fix the issue.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top