Little sponge I found in my printer, about an inch square, and loaded with ink

Today I was trying to use my HP Photosmart C7280 printer and I kept getting error messages about a carriage jam, and this is the first tme I’ve ever had that error message. Paper jams I have seen aplenty, but never a carriage jam, until today,
and I’ve had this printer for about seven years of not more.

So I found this instructional troubleshooting video, and started following the steps. About midway through it tells you to lift off the cartridge cover and check for anything blocking the motion of the carriage, or simply any crumpled and ripped paper that shouldn’t be there. I found and removed some bits of paper from the carriage area, which seemed like it would probably fix the problem. Only, as I removed the paper I suddenly discovered that my fingertips were drenched in very dark blue ink, and as I washed my hands I discovered a tiny little square sponge that seemed to be the source of all this ink. It was about an inch long on each side, and somewhat less than a quarter inch thick.

So, my question is, where might this sponge have come loose from? Would it be from the carriage itself, in which case it seems the repair would be more difficult if not impossible? Or was it something that came out of the replaceable ink cartridges or from the receptacles where you plug in the cartridges when you replace them?

You’re probably wondering why I don’t just open the printer again and see for myself; that’s simply because I don’t want to drench myself, or the table or carpet, with more ink if I don’t have to, or at least not without knowing where the problem is located within the printer. If I know where that sponge fell out of in the first place, it would be helpful.

It sounds to me like the waste ink absorber. I’m not familiar with that particular printer, but see if this video helps.

The sponge holds all the ink used in the cleaning process. As you can see, head cleaning wastes an enormous amount of ink. I don’t know about your printer specifically, but there should be a slot under where the printhead is in the rest position–generally all the way to the right.

In fact, I think I see the sponge you’re talking about at 3:46 in the video. It’s white in the video but will become saturated over time. You might be able to buy a replacement.

In my experience, you can just saturate it with water and wring it out several times, and let it dry. I’ve had to do that with a couple of my Epsons in the past, and it’s not been a problem.

I think the little block of foam is a cover to the entry to the actual ink receptacle , which is large block of foam in the base.

I think the little block of foam has come loose as the larger reservoir for waste ink is now full… You have to empty (wash or replace ) the large reservoir…

Maybe your printer doesn’t consider itself sponge-worthy?

Inkjet printers usually have a cleaning station at one end of the print carriage travel, beyond the width of the paper, where ink is jetted and the printhead scrubbed over a wiper or a sponge. The sponge is probably for ink absorption and popped out of place. Look for a box-like compartment at the extreme left or right of the page. Clean it if you can, wash the sponge in water, and reinstall.

If your printer was printing OK before, reinstalling the sponge should fix it.

If only the printer would do something about its sideburns.

A guy called Mangetout did this several years ago.

I had no idea this was Mangetout; great video. I came across it earlier, before opening this thread.

Obviously, the little sponge I’m talking about isn’t the horrid wadding that he shows us in the video, though. This doesn’t rule out that possibility, though.

Dr. Strangelove: I’m not seeing the sponge where you pointed it out in the video, though it definitely did come from that (the right) end of the carriage path. On my printer, however, I do see what looks like a slot for it, where it would sit horizontally. If I understand aright how it goes in, one would barely notice it when it’s put back in place.

Before doing that, though, I’ll see if I can at least remove and wash the big sponges.

Woohoo! fame!

The little sponge might be part of the head cleaning or parking apparatus - some printers try to mitigate blocking of the ink jet nozzles by moving the print head onto a rubber or foam ‘cap’ which suppresses evaporation of the ink solvents and in theory keeps the ink fluid in the delivery end of the jets.