Printer and Photocopier Troubleshooting and Repair Collection : Cartridges drying out on early HP DeskJe..  
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Cartridges drying out on early HP DeskJets

Note that unless the cartridge is almost empty anyhow, it can usually be revived by patting off the caked ink with a damp lint-free cloth and then gently blowing in the vent hole on top until a drop of ink appears at the print head. Sometimes this may have to be done more than once. NEVER poke anything into that vent hole or you will have a mess!

(From: Paul Weber (webpa@aol.com).)

HP had a free upgrade kit for the 560 to solve this, maybe for the 500 as well. It was a replacement for the silicone rubber park-position nozzle seal. Also remember that the 500 came with a cartridge storage box with an elaborate rubber seal in the bottom; they encouraged you to remove the cartridge from the printer and put in the box whenever it wasn't in active use to prevent dry-outs. Finally, HP cartridges have expiration dates - and they mean what they say: If they're out dated, they work poorly or not at all.