How to Fix a Jammed Cartridge

The process of removing and/or installing an ink or toner cartridge is typically fairly quick and simple.  It is generally as easy as opening the panel covering the cartridge carriage, pulling out the empty cartridges and sliding in the new ones.  On occasion, though, cartridges do get stuck, in both laser and inkjet printers.  This issue is most often caused by dried ink that has become stuck or a cartridge that has become lodged in its slot, and it can happen with all brands, including Samsung toner cartridges or HP ink cartridges.  Below is a list of recommended steps to take to get the cartridge out.

(Always turn off your machine and unplug it from the wall before attempting these steps).

Isopropyl AlcoholInkjet Printer

  1. Open the cartridge cover.
  2. Use a cotton swab doused in isopropyl alcohol to wipe the part of the carriage where the printhead and cartridge connect.  This will loosen dried ink.
  3. Wiggle the stuck cartridge to loosen it further.
  4. Use a cloth dampened with isopropyl alcohol to wipe the entire assembly.
  5. Once the cartridge is out, be sure to thoroughly clean the printhead and cartridge to avoid a similar issue in the future.

Flathead ScrewdriverLaser Printer

  1. Open the cartridge cover.
  2. Grab the handle of the cartridge.
  3. Jiggle the cartridge to loosen slightly.
  4. Use a flathead screwdriver and wedge it beneath the cartridge.
  5. Push the cartridge up gently with the screwdriver while pulling the cartridge handle.

Sometimes, the cartridge doesn’t get jammed when trying to remove it.  Rather, the part of the carriage that slides back and forth gets stuck.  This will typically make a grinding noise and printing will cease.  Most likely the issue here is the actuator arm, and here is how to fix that:

Actuator Arm

This is an image of an actuator arm in a stuck position.

  1. Open the cartridge lid and remove the paper tray.
  2. Manually slide the carriage to the middle.
  3. If it will not slide, push down the black bar above the rollers and release it so it pops back up.
  4. Lift the arm on the left side above the gear assembly and then release it to restore to the proper position.  (The arm is usually a thin, black piece of plastic that is less than two inches long.)


One of the above processes should help you when a cartridge is jammed in the printer or the actuator arm is causing a jam during printing.  If you experience further issues, it is recommended to call your manufacturer or a technician.  Also, be sure not to use too much force as you don’t want a piece of the carriage or cartridge breaking off inside of the machine.

Greg Gladman
Greg Gladman has two degrees from the University of Cincinnati and prides himself on managing the operations and customer service at Ink Technologies. With a mind like a vault, he is full of useful and useless information, making him an asset to the company and to his Tuesday night trivia team. When he is not working, he spends his time bowling and playing golf. Greg dedicates much of his free time to raising money and awareness in support of the fight against blood cancers.

One Response to “How to Fix a Jammed Cartridge”