How to Fix HP Printer Black Ink Smearing [Quick Guide]

In this article, we will guide you on how to fix HP printer black ink smearing issue within minutes.

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If your HP printer’s black ink is smearing, then you can fix it with the following solutions:

1. Ensure the Paper is Okay

Paper quality plays an important role when it comes to print quality. Therefore, confirm that the paper you are using is top-quality. Also, ensure that the paper is not wrinkled as this may cause the print mechanism not to contact the paper well which could lead to smearing.

2. Run Clean Print Cartridge Utility 

If your HP printer black ink smudges on paper, then a quick way to fix this issue is to run the clean print cartridge utility.

How to Run HP Printer Clean Print Cartridge Utility

To run the HP printer clean print cartridge utility, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Press the button for “Setup” on your HP printer.

Step 2: Navigate with the arrow keys to choose “Tools”.

Step 3: Press the button labeled “OK”.

Step 4: Choose “Clean Print Cartridge”.

Step 5: Press on “OK”.

The printer will then print a test page.

Step 6: Examine the page.

If you are satisfied with the print quality, then you can stop troubleshooting.

If you are unsatisfied with the print quality, go to the step below…

Step 7: Open Printer Toolbox.

This can be done via the following ways:

i. Via your HP printer

  • Open the “HP Director”
  • Choose the menu for “Settings”
  • Choose the submenu for “Print Settings”
  • Select “Printer Toolbox”

ii. Via your Computer

  • Go to your Printers Folder
  • Right-click on your HP printer or its icon
  • Select “Properties”
  • Click “Printing Preferences”
  • Then click on the tab labeled “Services”
  • Click on the icon for “Service this Device”,

Step 8: Once the Printer Toolbox is opened, locate the tab for “Device Services”, then click on “Click the Print Cartridges”.

Step 9: Follow the instructions on the screen. You can carry out three cleaning levels.

Any page that is printed in the process should be recycled or discarded.

Want to learn how to solve other HP printer black ink issues? Click this: HP Printer Black Ink [Reasons & Solutions] to learn more.

3. Use the HP Printer Automated Tool to Clear Smears

If you notice smears on the opposite page of the print jobs, the use of an automated tool might fix the problem.

How to Use the HP Printer Automated Tool to Clear Smears

Follows the steps below to learn how to use the HP printer automated tool to clear smears:

Step 1: Load the main print tray with clean white paper.

Step 2: Go to your HP printer’s control panel.

Step 3: Swipe left.

Step 4: Tap “Tools”.

Step 5: Swipe up.

Step 6: Tap “Clean Page Smears”.

A blank paper will be slowly fed into your HP printer.

Step 7: Wait until the blank paper is ejected.

Step 8: Run a test a print.

If you are satisfied, then you can stop troubleshooting.

If you aren’t satisfied, then try the next solution.

4. Increase the Ink’s Drying Time – How to Fix HP Printer Black Ink Smearing

Another reason the ink might be smearing is that the drying time is too short. The drying time refers to the time interval between when the subsequent paper is fed into the printer. Factors that influence the drying time include printer driver settings, paper type, temperature, and humidity.

Hence, to solve this problem, you need to increase the ink’s drying time using a computer.

How to Increase Ink’s Drying Time via Windows Computer

Do the following steps to increase the ink’s drying time via Windows computer:

Step 1: Open the document or file you want to print.

Step 2: Click on “File”.

Step 3: Click on “Print”.

Step 4: Click on “Properties”, “Preferences”, or “Settings” depending on the version of your driver. Then do the following according to the option available to your driver.

  • If your driver has “Settings” or “Properties”, do the following:

i. Click on the tab labeled “Advanced”.

ii. In the section “Extra Dry Time”, slide the slider to “More”.

  • If your driver has “Preferences”, do the following:

i. Click on the tab labeled “Basic”.

ii. Click on “Advanced Features”.

iii. In the section “Extra Dry Time”, slide the slider to “More”.

Step 5: Run a test print.

If the issue persists, you can still increase the drying time further.

How to Increase Ink’s Drying Time on Mac Computer

Do the following steps to increase the ink’s drying time on a Mac computer:

Step 1: Open the document or file you want to print.

Step 2: From the Print Menu or File, locate the tab labeled “General”, and then choose “Ink”.

Step 3: In the section “Dry Time”, slide the slider to “More”.

Step 4: Run a test print.

If the issue persists, you can still increase the drying time further.

If increasing the drying time doesn’t work, then try changing the print quality to “Normal” or “Fast”. This will reduce the period it will take the ink to get dry.

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5. Use another Paper from a Different Manufacturer

As we said earlier, the quality of the paper affects the print quality. Some papers have coatings that prevent the fast absorption of ink. Hence, such papers are prone to experience some form of smears and smudges.

Therefore, if all your print jobs on a particular paper brand or type are always getting smeared or smudged, it is recommended you try using another paper as this might just be the easy solution.

6. Clean the Parts around your Cartridge Nozzles

If after carrying out the three levels of cleaning using the Clean Print Cartridges utility, then you can carry out this solution. However, if you haven’t, we recommend that you do that first before you do this.

How to Clean the Parts around your Cartridge Nozzles

Follow the steps below to clean the parts around your cartridge nozzles:

Step 1: Get your cleaning materials

  • Clean bottled, filtered, or distilled water. Don’t use tap water as it might have contaminants that could lead to cartridge damage. 
  • Lint-free cloth or clean cotton swabs.
  • Paper towel or sheets of paper.

Step 2: Remove the black ink cartridge from your printer.

Put it on the towel paper of sheet of paper. Ensure that the nozzle plate faces upward.

Step 3: Examine the parts around the cartridge’s nozzle plate.

If you can’t find any ink buildup or debris, don’t clean the cartridge.

If you discover any ink buildup or debris, do the following to clean the ink cartridge:

i. Moisten the cloth or cotton swabs with the clean water you got.

ii. Use the moistened cotton swab or cloth to clean the edges and faces around the cartridge’s nozzle plate.

If during the process cleaning cloth or cotton swab becomes dirty, then you have to change it.

Ensure you don’t touch the nozzle place that is the middle of the cartridge. You shouldn’t touch the copper contacts as well. If you do touch these areas, it could lead to ink failure, bad electrical connections, and clogs.

Once you are done with the clearing, reinstall the black ink cartridge into your HP printer. Then print a test page. If you can’t find any smears, then the problem has been fixed. If you do find smears, then you are left with one final solution.

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7. Replace the Cartridge

This is the final solution to fix your HP printer black ink smearing issue. If you purchased the cartridge from the HP store or an HP-affiliated store, then you might get a free replacement if the cartridge is still under warranty.

After getting the cartridge, simply follow the instructions we shared here: HP Printer Black Ink – How to Replace HP Printer Cartridge to replace the cartridge. 

If none of the above resolves the issue, contact HP Support for further assistance.