This technical overview from Agilent Technologies demonstrates the importance of cleaning a blocked ICP-OES nebulizer and provides an instructional guide on how to clean it.
A blocked nebulizer can restrict aerosol formation, decreasing sensitivity and degrading accuracy and precision. Reduced nebulizer flow is a particular concern, because it contributes to poor performance.
With nebulizer blockages, prevention is the best cure. It's important to filter all samples and other solutions that are aspirated to remove large particulates. In addition, samples, standards, rinse solutions, and other solutions should be kept covered whenever possible, to reduce the ingress of dust from the lab environment. If using a wide-mouth bottle for rinsing, boring a small hole in the cap will minimize the risk of dust entering the solution. Regular rinsing between samples and at the end of the run, combined with regular cleaning of the nebulizer is also important. However, improper cleaning techniques can permanently damage the nebulizer. By following the steps outlined in this technical overview you will be able to routinely clean your nebulizer, and to remove blockages if or when they occur.
The technical overview provides step-by-step guidelines on how to routinely clean concentric nebulizers and the OneNeb nebulizer and gives instructions on what to do if deposits remain. There's also a useful video on troubleshooting and maintenance of ICP-OES systems that you can view here.