Definitely no to cotton buds... are you using cheap inks and cartridges. Do you switch the printer off when not needed, if it's just sat there "ready to go" but not used the ink can I believe dry and clog. The piezo nozzles are absolutely microscopic, even impurities in cheap ink can clog them.
I don't print that much but never have problems with clogging/poor print quality. I use Jettec compatables, tried a cheap set from a computer fair once, and that was enough.