How To Clean Ender 3 (Pro/V2) Nozzle & Prevent Clogs

Your 3D printer’s hot end can determine extrusion quality. If it is dirty or clogged, it may under-extrude and impact the quality of your print.

The easiest way to clean an Ender 3 nozzle is with a needle and brass brush. Scrub it well to remove all filament after each print. If the nozzle keeps clogging despite being cleaned regularly, check the printing temperature and filament quality. Dust buildup is another potential culprit.

How To Clean Ender 3 Nozzle

Keeping the Ender 3 print head clean is paramount if you want to produce quality prints. The methods below can help you prevent clogging.

1. Clean With a Damp Cloth 

Nozzles get dirty during the printing process, whether you like it or not. There are a variety of reasons why, including a short distance between the nozzle and the bed during the extrusion of the first layer.

As the filament comes out, some of the material sticks onto itself, creating a cap that can clog the nozzle.

For these reasons, it is crucial to clean the hot end after each print.

All you have to do is wipe the tip of the nozzle with a damp cloth while the nozzle is still hot. The steam produced can dislodge any material that stuck onto the nozzle’s tip during extrusion and remove it effectively. For stubborn materials, such as PETG, you could soak the cloth in alcohol instead of water.

2. Scrub With a Wire Brush

Removing external debris with a damp cloth is easy right after printing. If you didn’t manage to clean the nozzle while hot, though, you might have to scrub it off with a wire brush. 

You may also have to employ this method if the clog is particularly stubborn and doesn’t come off. 

Scrubbing the nozzle is just what it sounds like – dip the brush in warm water or alcohol and gently scrub off the debris.

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If you don’t have a wire brush already, you could 3D print your own.

3. Use a Needle 

While the damp cloth and wire brush methods can remove filament stuck to the nozzle’s tip, it might not help much if you’re dealing with a deeper clog. 

The easiest method to remove debris from inside the nozzle is with a 0.4mm needle that comes with your printer. If you don’t have it, an acupuncture needle is a good substitute.

Similar to the cloth method, you should use the needle while the nozzle is still hot. If it is already cold: 

  1. Heat the hot end to the temperature of the last printed material.
  2. Grab your needle and gently poke it upwards through the nozzle’s tip.
  3. Move the needle back and forth a few times.

This should help break up and dislodge the debris blocking the nozzle.

Note: While the 0.4mm nozzle is the most commonly used, check its diameter before sticking the needle up. If it has a smaller diameter, use a finer needle or a length of wire with a diameter slightly smaller than that of the nozzle. Otherwise, you risk damaging it. You should also avoid using thin drill bits, as they are prone to breaking inside the nozzle.

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4. Use Cleaning Filament

Cleaning filament is a type of material designed to run through the entire print head and clean out leftover filament in the process. 

It is particularly useful for clearing deep clogs that can’t be reached with a needle. However, it only works for partial clogs, as the filament still needs some clear path so that it can flow.

Most cleaning filaments are nylon-based and can remove any other type of filament stuck in the hot end. 

To clean the path: 

  1. Load your preferred cleaning filament and heat the hot end at a temperature slightly higher than that used for your most recent print job. 
  2. Wait for the nozzle to heat up, then feed the cleaning filament through it. Traces of the filament you used for your most recent print will be visible in the extruded material.
  3. Keep going until cleaning filament comes out clean.

Tip: Your goal when heating the nozzle is that of melting old filament, but you shouldn’t set the temperature more than 5°C to 10°C higher than the original temperature. If the nozzle gets too hot, the old filament could burn inside it and become impossible to remove.

5. Perform a Cold Pull

Cold pull is a method used to remove full clogs that form deeper inside the hot end. Despite its name, the method uses heat. 

To perform it: 

  1. Heat the hot end to a high temperature. Around 250°C should work for most filaments, except for PLA, which can be cold pulled by heating the nozzle to only 200°C.
  2. Feed the same filament you’ve been printing through the hot end until it starts coming out. 
  3. Turn off the heat and let the nozzle cool down.
  4. When the filament is solid, set a temperature of about 115°C and turn the heat on to the nozzle.
  5. Wait for the temperature to reach 90°C. Grab the filament with a pair of pliers and pull it out. The cold pull works if the filament is shaped like the inside of the nozzle.

6. Perform an Atomic Pull

This method is similar to the cold pull, but you don’t have to wait for the nozzle to cool down to room temperature. 

Start by removing the filament from the 3D printer. 

Heat the hot end to 220°C to 260°C (lower end for PLA, higher end for other filament types). When the hot end reaches the temperature, feed the filament manually through the nozzle until it extrudes. 

Lower the temperature to 90°C for PLA or 160°C for PETG and ABS. Once the nozzle has cooled, tug the filament out with a pair of pliers. 

Both atomic pull and cold pull methods may require a few repetitions before the clog comes out.

7. Use Solvents 

The cold pull and atomic pull methods may sometimes fail to remove clogs. When this happens, you have to remove the nozzle and clean it with solvents. 

The solvent choice is based on the type of material you have to clean.

Acetone is the most common choice for ABS, but it doesn’t work well on materials such as PLA. For these filaments, you should use ethyl acetate. 

Fill a bowl with solvent and let the nozzle sit in it for a few hours. Then, use a needle or wire to remove the clog.

8. Use a Heat Gun 

Particularly stubborn clogs might also resist solvents, but all is not lost. You can still clean the nozzle mechanically with a heat gun.

For this method, you also need a pair of pliers and a needle or wire. 

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Place the nozzle on a fire-proof surface and heat it with the heat gun. Hold it firmly with the pliers and use the needle to dislodge the debris stuck inside it. Inspect the nozzle from time to time by looking through it.

Keep going until it’s clean, and the opening looks perfectly round when looking through it.

9. Remove Debris with Compressed Air 

If you’ve managed to dislodge the filament stuck in the nozzle with one of the methods above, but the chunk is too large to come out, and you can’t seem to break it with a needle, compressed air could help.

For this method, you need an air compressor capable of outputting low-pressure air (30 to 40 PSI). 

Set the air compressor to around 40 PSI. Block the channel of the nozzle on one side and blow compressed air inside from the other opening. This should help break up the clog. 

Remove the block and blow compressed air. Small pieces of filament should come out from the other side. 

10. Use an Ultrasonic Cleaner 

Ultrasonic cleaners are small devices designed for small items that are challenging to clean. They are often used for jewelry and numismatics, but you can also employ a device to get rid of clogs inside your 3D printer’s nozzle. 

While the actual cleaning method might differ from device to device, you generally have to fill the ultrasonic cleaner with water, submerge the nozzle in it, and wait for the machine to run its cycle.

Dry the nozzle thoroughly when you’re done.

11. Try a Chemical Cleaner 

If all else fails, you can use a chemical cleaner specifically developed for 3D printing nozzles. Follow the instructions on the product to clean the part. 

Dispose of this chemical properly when you’re done, making sure it doesn’t come in contact with your skin or eyes.

Common Culprits of 3D Printer Nozzle Clogs

Printer nozzles can clog from time to time. However, if your Ender 3 keeps clogging, no matter how careful you are, you’re doing something wrong. Here are the most common nozzle-clogging culprits.

Wrong Filament 

Calibrating the 3D printer for the type of filament you’re using is essential. If you’ve calibrated the printer for one type of filament and want to switch to a new type, you should recalibrate.

The calibration ensures that all settings work best for the type of material you’re currently using.

When changing the filament, also check its diameter on the spool and the nozzle size recommended to use. Never use a nozzle smaller than recommended, or it might clog.

Poor Quality Filament

Low-quality filament comes at affordable prices, but it can give you more headaches than benefits. 

Poor filament is usually full of debris that might not melt or become brittle and break inside the hot end. Investing in quality filament could be cheaper in the long run. 

Quality-wise, also check the filament before printing.

Never use expired or wet filament. If you’ve stored the spool incorrectly, such as in a place with sun exposure, consider it expired and use a new spool.

Inadequate Distance 

Setting a too-low distance between the hot end and the build plate is one of the most common reasons for filament caps. 

You can see the filament starting to build up on the tip of the nozzle if this is the cause.

To fix this, simply change the settings from your Ender 3’s menu.

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Wrong Retraction Settings 

Similar to an inadequate distance, wrong retraction settings could result in clogs building up outside and inside of the nozzle.

That’s because small bits of material could be left behind when retracting the filament. These bits will melt and harden constantly inside the hot end until they eventually block it completely. 

On both Ender 3 V2 and Pro, you can check the retraction settings from the main menu. Alternatively, you can check the settings in Cura if you’re using it by going to Control -> Motion -> Retraction. Set the retraction to 0.8mm to prevent issues.

Low Printing Temperature 

Setting the extrusion temperature too low is another common reason for blockages. These happen because the material is too stiff to flow properly through the nozzle. 

The ideal temperature depends on the material you’re printing with. Each filament comes with its own range, so make sure to respect it.

Dust Buildup 

Over time, dust and debris can build up inside the nozzle. These particles can mix with leftover filament, causing stubborn blockages.

Extrusion problems are the most common indicator of such a clog. 

The best way to clean dust buildup is with compressed air or an ultrasonic cleaner. To prevent it, clean the nozzle regularly.

Heat Creep 

This phenomenon refers to heat traveling up the hot end and heating up tubes that shouldn’t be heated. 

The filament can melt and block these tubes.

Heat creep is often the result of a printing temperature set too high. A broken board that causes heating problems could also be the culprit. 

To prevent it, check the print temperature before hitting start.

Ender 3 Nozzle (Pro/V2) Maintenance Tips

Once you’ve removed the debris and identified the cause, here’s how to keep the nozzle clean.

Routine Nozzle Cleaning 

Clean the nozzle every time after printing. Wiping it with a damp cloth or scrubbing with a wire brush should easily remove debris at this stage.

Proper Storage

Unless you’re letting the nozzle on the printer, store it in a closed box. Ideally, you should keep all nozzles in an airtight box to prevent an unnecessary accumulation of dust.

Adequate Nozzle Selection

As explained, the diameter of the nozzle should be larger than the diameter of the filament. In most cases, you’ll use a 0.4mm nozzle with 0.2mm filament. If you have to use thicker filaments for some reason, switch to a higher-diameter nozzle.


Can a clogged nozzle cause stringing?

Yes, a clogged nozzle can cause stringing. That’s because the new filament wraps around and gets stuck in the clog. Unclogging the nozzle could solve this issue even for filaments notorious for stringing, such as PETG. 

Do you have to clean the nozzle after every print?

Yes, you must clean the nozzle after every print. Doing so can help prevent clogging and increases the lifespan of your nozzle.

Wrapping Up

Ender 3 nozzles can get clogged for a variety of reasons, such as the wrong printing temperature or an incorrectly set distance. Clogs can be dislodged with a needle, compressed air, or an ultrasound cleaner, among others. Removing blockages manually is also possible.

Cleaning the nozzle after every print is crucial to prevent unexpected surprises.

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