Ender 3 Nozzle Keeps Clogging?[Fixed!]

If your Ender 3’s nozzle is clogged or it keeps clogging then this article is a must-read for you because I’ve shared all the personal methods that I use for unclogging my Ender 3 nozzle that are effective. Not only I’ve shared how to clean a clogged nozzle, but I’ve also shared symptoms, causes, and prevention methods that you can use to identify nozzle clogs in your 3d printer and prevent them.

Ultimately, if your nozzle is clogged then you can try the cold pull method to clean it. In short, you have to follow the below steps to clean the nozzle.

  • In this method, you have to heat the nozzle to the highest temp you have printed at then manually push the filament through the extruder and extrude a few mm
  • Then cool down the nozzle to solidify the filament in the nozzle after some time when the filament solidifies set the nozzle temp to 110-120° C
  • When the nozzle reaches 90° C, start tugging the filament from the extruder after a few tugs it will come out along with the gunk present in the nozzle.
  • Then repeat the above steps a few times until you cannot see any dirt or gunk on the filament that you are tugging out of the nozzle.

You must continue reading the article for a more in-depth guide to unclog the nozzle and how to prevent it.

How to Identify nozzle clog?

I want you to first check and identify if you are dealing with a partial clog or a full or if the nozzle is even clogged at all or not. It will help you choose the correct method to unclog your nozzle.

And, it’s extremely easy to identify a clogged nozzle in Ender 3, just follow the below steps and check it yourself before proceeding.

  1. Disable the extruder gear
  2. Manually push the filament through the extruder into the hotend.
  3. If you feel resistance and the filament is not extruding smoothly then it’s a partial clog, if no material comes out of the hotend then you are dealing with a full clog.

Note: Even if the filament came out smoothly without any resistance out of the nozzle doesn’t mean there is no clog or gunk in the nozzle and in this case I want you to check for the signs/symptoms I’ve listed below.

Ender 3 clogged nozzle symptoms

If you are not sure that is your Ender 3’s nozzle is actually clogged or not then the following signs or symptoms will help you identify it.

Material Stringing

Material stringing doesn’t mean that the nozzle is clogged 100% however it’s a good idea to check the nozzle for clogs if you are unable to eliminate stringing by other methods.

Under Extrusion

What comes to your mind after reading or hearing under extrusion? Well… “clogged nozzle” comes to my mind because that’s the first time I replaced my nozzle!. I will say that under-extrusion is a pretty strong indication of a partially clogged nozzle.

Extruder gears make a clicking noise

This is a very common sign of a clogged nozzle, the clicking sound is produced when the extruder gears are not able to move freely. A clogged nozzle will not allow the filament to pass freely and will put unnecessary force on the extruder gear thus causing the annoying clicking noise.

Inconsistent Extrusion Patterns and Missing Layers are also very common signs of a partially clogged nozzle. If you don’t take care of the extruder right now by unclogging the nozzle then your future prints will have worse results.

How to unclog Ender 3 nozzle

Now that it is confirmed that your Creality Ender 3 is dealing with a clogged nozzle, you can unclog it using the different methods I’ve listed below.

Cold pull

If your printer is not dealing with serious clogging then you can perform cold pull because it’s the most effective method for partial clogs. This method is also known as “atomic pull”. The basic idea behind this method is to use the adhesive properties of the filament to stick the gunk inside to nozzle to the filament which we can pull out..

For this method, you will need a cleaning filament. Yes, you can also use regular filaments but they won’t work as well as the cleaning filament, and having a cleaning filament as a 3d printer owner is a must for regular maintenance of your Ender 3. I use and recommend eSUN cleaning filament on Amazon.

  1. Unload your current filament and load the cleaning filament.
  2. Heat your Ender 3’s nozzle by setting the temperature to 250-260° C to melt any leftover filament inside the nozzle.
  3. Now manually push the cleaning filament through the extruder until it starts to come through the nozzle, after pushing a few centimeters of the filament, stop.
  4. Now let the nozzle cool down so that the filament can solidify. While the filament solidifies the particles or debris clogging the nozzle will stick to the cleaning filament including the leftover filament present inside the nozzle.
  5. Once the cleaning filament solidifies set the nozzle temperature to 110-120° C. Now wait for the temperature to reach 90° C, as soon as temp reaches 90° C start pulling the filament back through the extruder. You will feel resistance in doing so which means that it worked!
  6. The last step but the most important step is to repeat the above 5 steps 2-3 times to clean the nozzle completely because doing it only once won’t get rid of debris inside completely.

How to clean Ender 3 nozzle

If the clogging symptoms are not that major then you can simply clean the nozzle using a nozzle cleaning needle and a wire brush. The steps are fairly simple for this method because you are not dealing with a severe nozzle clog.

  1. Heat the nozzle to 210-220° C if you printed PLA last time. And if you printed some other material then heat the nozzle to the appropriate temperature for that material. The idea behind this is to melt any material residue inside the nozzle so that we can take them out in the process.
  2. Once the nozzle reaches the desired temperature take the nozzle cleaning needle insert it inside the nozzle, gently do a back and forth motion a few times, and pull out the needle. You will see some melted filament and some debris on the needle clean them using a cloth.
  3. Repeat the step 2 for 3-4 times. When you see that the needle is not pulling any dirt out of the nozzle you can be certain that the needle has done its job and the nozzle is now clog free.
  4. While the nozzle is still hot take the wire brush and gently start rubbing on the tip of the nozzle to remove any filament residue from it. While doing this be careful to not push the residue inside the nozzle because it will clog it again,

Replace nozzle

This is what I do and also recommend doing if the nozzle is fully clogged. It saves a lot of time and energy and nozzles are also extremely cheap on Amazon.

If you are facing a full clog and want to replace the nozzle then you must check my guide on how to change Ender 3 nozzle because in that post I’ve covered everything in detail including what you should do and what you shouldn’t do. However, if you already have the basic idea then here are the steps in a nutshell:

  1. Remove the fan shroud by unscrewing the screws that are holding it to get direct access to the hotend.
  2. Heat the nozzle to the temp of the previous element you have printed.
  3. Hold the heat block with a wrench and start unscrewing the nozzle using a socket wrench or spanner. DO NOT touch the nozzle with bare hands it will burn you.
  4. Insert the new nozzle into the place and start screwing it using the same tool while holding the heat block using a wrench. Tighten it to the point where it feels right to you neither too tight nor too loose.
  5. Put back the fan shroud and secure it there by screwing it in place.

Chemical Cleaning

If you are not able to unclog the nozzle using the above methods and don’t have spare nozzles to replace the current one and also you have the right chemicals then you can go this route.

The chemical names might sound complicated at first, however, this method is fairly easier and more effective compared to the previous methods, however a new nozzle is always better.

  1. Heat the nozzle to the last temperature of the material used. Once the hotend heats up to the temperature then remove the nozzle using an appropriate-sized wrench or spanner.
  2. Now you have to choose the right chemical for the material you have printed with. For ABS choose Acentone, for PETG choose Alcohol, for PLA choose Ethyl Acetate and pour a small amount of it into a container or bowl.
  3. Now dip the nozzle in the chemical and keep it there for a few hours, you might some of the clog in the chemical after some time.
  4. After a few hours have passed take out the nozzle out of the chemical and clean it using the cleaning needle.

Common causes of nozzle clogging

Just unclogging the nozzle isn’t enough, you must know the causes of why your Ender 3 keeps clogging so that you can prevent it. According to my experience, the following are the most common reasons for nozzle clogging.

Dirt contamination

If you don’t clean your workbench or bedroom, living room, or wherever you print your models, then these dirt particles can enter the nozzle through the extruder or the nozzle itself resulting in a clog. Then these dirt particles will get stuck in the nozzle resulting in a clog. Most of the time these particles come out on their own without manual intervention, however in some cases you will face clogging issues.

Dirty filament

Having clean and dirt-free filament is just as important as having a dirt-free environment if not more. Dirt particles can stick to the filament surface and can go to the nozzle and get stuck there causing the nozzle to clog.

Poor quality filament

If you are not buying filament from a reputed filament manufacturer then you run into the risk of clogging your Ender 3’s nozzle because the filament might have contamination in itself causing a direct clog, or it might have irregular diameter leading to irregular flow of filament causing build up on the nozzle and ultimately it leads to clogging.

Switching materials

If you printed ABS and now you are printing PLA without taking any necessary steps to do the material switch, then you have significantly increased the chances of your printer’s nozzle getting clogged.

The primary reason behind this is materials like PLA require high temp to melt while ABS will melt at comparatively lower temperatures and if there is any PLA residue left inside the nozzle it will not melt when printing ABS and the nozzle will get clogged.

Unsuitable nozzle temperature and heat creep

I’ll explain this by an example, let’s say the filament you are printing requires 210° C to print perfectly and your printer’s nozzle is at 200° C or less in this case the filament will melt partially and will start forming gunk.

Similarly, if the nozzle is at 210° C or higher then the heat will escape from the heat block and will flow to the Bowden tube which will pre-melt the filament resulting in the phenomenon called heat creep. There are a lot more factors that can cause heat creep and heat creep is quite underlooked when it comes to nozzle clogging.

Less Distance between the nozzle and the bed

If your nozzle is very close to the print bed then the extruded filament can stick to the surface of the nozzle, and over time this accumulation will go inside the nozzle and clog it.

How to prevent nozzle clogs

It’s definitely not fun if you are printing a big model and when it’s almost finished, under-extrusion or stringing ruins the whole print. Although you cannot prevent nozzle clogs forever. However, you can delay them for much longer by properly taking care of your Ender 3. Personally, I always keep the following things in mind to prevent nozzle clogs.

Clean and dirt-free env

First and most importantly, you should always print in an environment that is clean and temperature fluctuations are less, and always store your filament spool in a dirt-free area. This prevents the contamination from entering the nozzle and clogging. A clean and dirt-free environment is essential for perfect prints.

Use high-quality filament

Always, yes always use a filament from a reputed manufacturer and seller, It makes sure that the filament will have a regular diameter throughout its length. It also removes the possibility of printing with a filament that is contaminated, this contamination will clog the nozzle and might also affect the print itself depending on the contamination.

Material switch considerations

Every time you switch filament, you must go through the ritual of cleaning your nozzle with a needle and a wire brush or a damp cloth. You can even extrude a few mm or cm of cleaning filament to ensure deep cleaning.

Also, make sure to set the correct temp and other settings if you are switching material.

Level your bed

It is crucial to properly level your bed for a perfect print, and a properly leveled bed can also prevent nozzle clogging for a long time. I’ve already discussed how insufficient distance between the nozzle and the print bed can cause clogging.

If you are still not using auto-bed leveling for your Ender 3 I highly recommend getting one and installing it, it will save you a lot of time and effort.


With this article, I’ve shared every method that I’ve used over the years to unclog a clogged nozzle on my Ender 3. After my years of experience with 3d printing, I can confirm that you cannot prevent nozzle clogs but you surely can delay them by doing regular maintenance of your Ender 3 and using quality filaments and equipment.

Nozzle clogs are inevitable they will come sooner or later, however, the choice is yours do you want it to be sooner or later. Always take care of your 3d printer aka regularly maintain your 3d printer.

If you still have any doubts, you can ask them in the comment box below.

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