Toner or Ink helps us to print our important documents. But there are several things you should know to keep the toner or ink cartridges safe for longer use.
Your ink cartridges can dry out, and your toner can get clumped if you don’t know how to store them properly, when not in use.
The dust can sit on the print heads or even on the nozzles.
Then you won’t be able to take a printout as the cartridges will get clogged or dried out, which may also reduce the ink flow.
So, there are some important points you should know about your printer cartridge to mark it safe. Find the points underneath.
Do Printer Cartridges Dry Out?
There are two types of printers, laser printers and inkjet printers.
The laser printer uses a toner powder, a dry substance, and the chances of getting it dried up are significantly less.
In comparison, an inkjet printer uses an ink cartridge that is filled up with wet ink.
There are high chances that the ink cartridges will be clogged or dried up over time when sitting in the machine for a long time.
No printer cartridge will last forever, whether it is Toner or Ink.
According to experts, if the toner is seal-packed, it will have an unlimited shelf life.
However, if it is opened and sitting in the machine for an extended period, it can get clumped.
It is recommended to use the printer every couple of weeks to keep the ink cartridge up and running.
Additionally, keeping the printhead clean will keep the cartridge idle for an extended period.
Why do printer cartridges dry out?
If you want to keep the ink cartridge from getting dried out, you must understand why it becomes dry.
The most important factor due to which your ink cartridge becomes dead and dry is the infrequent use of the printer.
Inkjet printers must be used frequently to keep them up and running, so the ink cartridge doesn’t dry.
Ink cartridges will become dry and dead if they are running out of expiry date or if you have kept them in a hot place or even in contact with direct sunlight.
If you refill the dry cartridges, you can even face problems, and they will start becoming dry very quickly.
If air can make its way into the cartridge, then also your cartridge can dry up quickly.
When it comes to the Toner, as the Toner is a dry powder, it can sit for a couple of months without any use, but it is recommended to use the print every couple of months.
How can you prevent printer cartridges from drying out?
There are several points you should take care of so that the ink cartridges don’t get clogged.
Use the printer frequently: Ink cartridges become dead and dry when you use the printer very infrequently.
If you only print once a month, there is a high chance that the ink will dry out before the ink cartridge is finished.
To avoid it, use your printer more frequently. Printing a few pages every week or even in a month can help the ink cartridge last longer.
You can even give test prints to keep the cartridge working. Inkjet printers are not meant for occasional use, and they are designed for regular use.
So if you are going to buy a new printer and won’t be printing often, then get a Laser printer.
Moisten the Cartridge: If you don’t want to waste the ink by printing test pages, then there is one more way to keep the cartridge far from getting dried out.
You can use cleaning alcohol with cleaning paper to clean up the cartridge.
You have to remove the ink sitting on the surface of the cartridge after every usage or every week. Make sure to dry the cartridge before installing it back on the printer.
Keep the printer shut: If you will not use your printer regularly and want to keep it safe, then shut it down.
When the printer is turned off, most modern printers move the print heads into a position where they are stored securely and don’t become dry.
You have to shut down the printer by pressing its power button and not unplugging it, as it will perform the required action adequately.
Store the ink cartridges: If you are sure enough that you won’t be using the printer for months, it is ideal for storing the ink cartridge in a safe place.
Make sure that you have the cartridge’s protective caps to store them when not in use.
If you have misplaced the protective caps, then find a trash bag or a plastic zipper bag, or even a plastic container that will work.
Remove the excess air from the bag or container and place a small damp cloth or a paper towel inside the trash bag or container.
It will keep the environment moist, and your cartridge will not dry out.
Make sure that the damp cloth or paper towel doesn’t come in direct contact with the cartridge.
Maintain the temperature: If the ink cartridge comes in contact with direct sunlight or excessive heat, they tend to dry out very quickly.
Most cartridge brands suggest that you should maintain 75 degrees Fahrenheit temperature to store the ink cartridge.
If the air is dry around the printer, then the ink will become dry and dead quickly.
You can keep the printer in a room where you sit and relax, and it will be an ideal place for the printer.
How do you fix dried-up ink cartridges?
Despite trying to keep the ink cartridge away from getting dried out, it is always not possible that the ink cartridge will not dry out.
The best part is that you can still fix it. The ink sitting on the print nozzles gets dried out and creates a blockage in the printer.
If you remove this ink, you may be able to use the printer back again.
Cleaning the print heads: Modern printers have their built-in cleaning tools.
You should follow the quick start guide to find out how to clean the nozzles with the help of built-in tools.
However, if you are not able to find the built-in cleaning tools, you can try these steps:
- Right-click on the printer icon at the bottom right of your screen.
- Now, you have to select the troubleshooting or maintenance option from the menu.
- You should see an option that says, “Head Cleaning” or “Print Head Cleaning”.
- Click on the head cleaning option, and after that, print a test page.
- You can repeat the steps a couple of times to properly clean the print heads.
Clean nozzles with hot water: Another way to clean the print heads is by using hot water. Many of the inks are water-soluble.
You can try cleaning the nozzles with hot water. You can place the cartridge in a bowl filled up with hot water.
Try putting the cartridge in hot water for not less than 2 hours, and after that, rub the nozzle with tissue or paper towels.
Clean nozzles with rubbing alcohol: If the hot water doesn’t work, you can try cleaning the print heads with rubbing alcohol.
Most inks can be easily removed with rubbing alcohol. Take a cloth or cotton swab and dip it into alcohol.
Try rubbing the nozzles with the cloth and clean them properly. This should work for you, and if it doesn’t work, then replace the cartridges.
Do Printer Cartridges Expire?
When it comes to the expiry of the shelf life of printer cartridges, then it varies on the printer you are using.
For both Ink Cartridge and Toner, shelf life will vary. Most seal-packed printer cartridges have a shelf life of around 24-36 months, depending on the brand.
However, when it comes to the shelf life of toner powder when it is seal packed, there is no shelf life or unlimited when the Toner is in its original packing.
What to do with expired printer cartridges?
There is nothing much to do with an expired printer cartridge, but thankfully, some convenient cartridge recycling solution exists.
- Try refilling the original brand cartridges: If you have a branded ink cartridge that you may have used once or twice, then you can get it refilled and cleaned at your local store. If the expired cartridge is empty, then you can refill it yourself. However, if the cartridge has dried up, give it to a local store, clean it, and refill it.
- Find a recycling store: If you can find a recycling store near your locality, you can give the cartridge to restore for a few bucks, or you can even earn some bucks by selling off the expired cartridge.
Do Printer Cartridge Ink Evaporate?
Yes, printer ink evaporates. The common reason behind every dried-out ink cartridge is evaporation.
The ink evaporates too quickly, then you may think it off. The ink evaporation takes place from the hole in your ink cartridge.
This is also the reason why the ink cartridge needs to be stored in a seal packing.
Do Printer Cartridges Have Memory?
No printer cartridges do not have memory but the printer has memory, and they can retain the memory of up to 2 cartridges.
Most standalone printers do not have anything to retain, but an all-in-one printer might save some of your documents, scans, print log, or fax logs.
You can easily reset the print log, but make a quick restart, and it will forget everything you printed.
Some brands even have options to clear the printer’s memory in their software.
In a Windows 10 computer, you can go to the device and printers under the control panel and then right-click on the printer you want to clean memory.
Click on “See, What’s Printing,” and it will open a dialogue box, here you can cancel the printing, and if it has some printing memory, then you can clean it.
Do Printer Cartridges Need to Be Recycled?
Yes, you can recycle and reuse your printer ink and toner cartridges. Toner cartridges can be recycled easily also the Toner is reusable after recycling.
Toner cartridges are more eco-friendly in comparison to ink cartridges.
Recycling ink cartridges will create less waste for the environment, and you can refill an ink cartridge up to 5 times until it ends.
Additionally, it will save some bucks if you reuse an ink cartridge by recycling it.
If you consider recycling an ink cartridge will save the environment, then here is a tip on recycling them.
There are many ways to recycle an ink cartridge, but it depends upon the brand as well.
Some eco-friendly programs help you recycle ink cartridges, and you can earn up to $30 by recycling your ink cartridges and saving the environment.
HP and Canon are the brands with a cartridge recycling program when it comes to the recycling program.
You can ship your ink cartridges to the HP office or supply stores. Whereas, to get your Canon ink cartridge recycled, you can drop your cartridge off at the FedEx locations.
Recycling Ink Cartridges: Ink Cartridges are used in an Inkjet printer. Recycling them is easier than you think. Here is how:
- Drop your ink cartridges at office supply stores.
- Recycle your ink cartridges at Walmart, Target, and Best Buy.
- Mail your empty ink cartridges to the manufacturer.
- Recycle it with a third-party facility.
- Recycle inkjet cartridges at your local recycling store.
- Sell your used ink cartridges for cash.
Recycling Toner Cartridges: Toner cartridges are huge in comparison to ink cartridges. But recycling them is easy.
Recycling toner cartridges is similar to recycling an ink cartridge:
- Mail back to the manufacturer for recycling.
- Drop off your toner cartridge at an office supply store for recycling.
- Ask a third-party recycling program to restore your toner cartridge.
- Encash your unused toner cartridge.
Can You Refill Ink Cartridges?
Yes, most ink cartridges can be refilled very easily. However, if the ink cartridge is expired or dried up, it is not ideal to refill it.
You can refill the ink cartridge when the printer asks you or when you see light printing of documents.
A standalone cartridge can be filled up to 5 times before the printhead fails.
Tanmoy Misra found his love for tech early in life when he got his first Nintendo (NES) console. He spent many hours blowing into cartridges to no avail until inspiration struck and he started taking apart and rebuilding anything that didn’t work. After dropping console gaming at the end of high school, Tanmoy entered the world of PC online gaming. His love of gaming and problem-solving soon led him to build his computers. As per expertise, he is an ISF-certified video calibrator and covering AV for a number of publications since 2018.