An ink jet print head cleaning and maintenance system has a purge chamber for applying a vacuum to a nozzle orifice surface. A specialized baffle diverts ink entering the purge chamber away a vent port through which the vacuum is drawn. An elongated wipe engages and wipes the orifice surface and is preferably moved at an extremely slow rate across the surface to enhance the wiping operation. An air knife directs a narrow stream of air across a portion of the nozzle orifice surface with air from the air stream being scanned across the surface for cleaning purposes. A specialized drip edge is positioned beneath the orifice surface for directing drops of ink away from the ink jet print head, the drops of ink being generated during the cleaning procedures. A mechanically simple cam mechanism coupled to a rotatable drum of the printer may be used to shift the maintenance system against the nozzle orifice surface for cleaning purposes.