How To Keep Unused Printer Correctly? (Comprehensive Guide) 2021

Any electronic device stays healthy if you use them continuously. But what if you have to keep them unused? 

Especially a device like a printer needs to be stored correctly otherwise you cannot use them later. 

In this article, we will give you a comprehensive guide on how you can keep unused printers correctly and what are the key factors you need to keep in mind. 

How long can a printer sit unused?

Leaving printers dormant for a more extended period without proper maintenance can stop the ink flow. 

The dust will gather on the print heads or maybe on nozzles, and the cartridge will be clogged or dried out, which will reduce the ink flow.

The shelf life of the ink cartridge is around two years, in most cases. After that time, you may face some problems with the cartridge. 

Additionally, the sponge, which is designed to provide ink to printheads, may dry out. However, if you are using a laser printer, then the situation might be different.

How long does a laser printer sit if unused?

Laser printers are better and more reliable than Inkjet printers. Laser printers can print more pages than an inkjet printer and are known for their service life. 

The laser printer uses toner, which is a dry, dust-like powder. So, there is no need to worry about the ink getting dried out. 

The laser printers can sit up to 2 years if unused. So, the laser printer won’t make any problem if not used often.

How long does an Inkjet printer sit if unused?

Inkjet printers are suitable for homely usage. But if you do not print or use the printer often, then you might face the consequences.

Leaving the ink cartridge in the printer can result in ink blockage, which will damage the print heads. Furthermore, the ink left on the print head can dry out.

So basically, the Inkjet printer can sit unused anywhere between 3-5 weeks when not in use.

What happens if you don’t use your printer for a long time?

When you don’t use the printer for some weeks, some printing problems can arise. 

Leaving your printer inoperative for months can result in a clog or dryness, which will reduce or stop the ink flow. However, this is not the case with Laser printers.

To avoid an ink cartridge from drying out, the best thing you can do is to perform a small print job every week, that will keep your cartridge primed. 

Moreover, make sure you use all four cartridges (black, cyan, magenta, and yellow). It would be best to clean the print head when printing after an extended period.

Laser printers use a dry powder which is also known as toner. The toner is a very fine dry substance mostly made of polyester. 

So there is no issue if you don’t use the printer for months and leave it inoperative. 

However, the Toner in the Laser printer can clump. So, make sure to run a small print job every week.

How to store a printer when not in use?

Protecting your printer while not in use can drastically improve the overall life of printer and ink cartridges. 

The dust particles and spilt ink can damage your printer and equipment. You would not want to deal with the unnecessary expense, so it is always better to store your printer while not in use.

Storing printer when not in use:

  • First of all, read manufacturer guidelines. If there are some unprecedented steps, then follow them.
  • Unplug the power cord and USB cable from the printer.
  • Remove the ink cartridges and store them in an upright position in an air-tight container.
  • Remove paper from the tray.
  • Clean the printer doors and panels before storing.
  • Put the printer in the original packing, if available. Else, use a trash bag. The print head should be in the home position before storing the printer. Print quality may decline if the print head is left away from the printer for a long time.
  • Store the printer in a cool, dry, and dark place.

What to do with the cartridges?

To store your printer, you need to understand how you can safely store your ink cartridges.

Store the Ink Cartridges Upright: It doesn’t matter whether your cartridges are open or still in the packaging. 

It is essential to store them in an upright position all the time. The manufacturing guide suggests this way, you can adequately keep the ink cartridges. 

You should store the Ink Cartridges Upright because the downward-facing printheads can leak, and they may get mixed in multi-coloured cartridges, which will make them useless.

Keep it in a Cool, Dry Place: It is always advisable to store the ink cartridges in a cool and ventilated area. 

You must ensure that the ink cartridges are not exposed to a temperature above room temperature, as the heat can make bubbles in the liquid. 

The raised temperature of ink’s expansion can damage the ink cartridges when cooled and may also lead to leaks in the future during use.

Store in a Dark Place: Direct sunlight and even artificial lighting can degrade the quality of the ink. 

It is always better to store the ink cartridges where light cannot reach or in low lighting conditions. 

The Ink Cartridges that don’t have a seal can be stored for up to 6 months. Furthermore, the ink cartridges which are seal packed can last for up to 2 years when store in a dark place.

Keep it in a sealed bag: If the ink cartridge is already opened and outside its original packaging, it is highly likely to be dry out. 

So, you have to make sure that you use a sealed bag to store the ink. 

Most manufacturers suggest that keeping ink cartridges in a plastic tub with an airtight lid can extend their lives. 

Moreover, you can place a wet cloth or tissue paper in a sealed box to keep humid conditions.

What to do with the toner storage?

The laser printers use Toner powder to print. If you are thinking that you don’t have to worry about the toner powder getting dried out, then please be informed that the Toner powder has a shelf life of about 18-24 months, once opened. 

However, if the Toner is seal packed, there is no need to worry about the expiration.

Expert suggests that toner cartridges should be kept away from these three things:

  • Moisture: The moisture will make the Toner soggy, which will make the cartridge useless.
  • Heat: The heat can kill the cartridge, which will cause the Toner to fuse.
  • Light: Direct sunlight or even artificial light can erase the photosensitive properties of the Toner.

Follow these tips to store the Toner safely when not in use:

  1. Store it in a cool and dry place.
  2. Do not place the Toner in direct sunlight or even in artificial light, which is too bright.
  3. Manufacturers suggest storing the Toner anywhere between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit temperature will be safe, but the ideal temperature is 75.
  4. The humidity must not be too much or too little; 50% humidity is ideal for storing.
  5. Never leave the Toner in a car. It will damage the Toner badly.
  6. Never store the Toner in a basement that is too damp or cool.

How to prepare your printer?

For both Laser and Inkjet printers, follow these steps to prepare your printer for printing.

Cleaning an Inkjet Printer:

  1. Take the cartridge or ink-head out.
  2. Now, gently clean the print head with a sponge swab containing rubbing alcohol. You can also use a brush with stiff bristles and put little rubbing alcohol to brush the contacts.
  3. Wipe the excess ink from the nozzles.
  4. Put in the cartridge back.
  5. Run a test print to make sure you have removed the excessive ink.

Cleaning a Laser Printer:

The laser printer comes with a wire that distributes the Toner. The wire is also known as Corona wire. 

You can use the guide or manual to find out where is the corona wire located in your laser printer. 

And when you have successfully found the corona wire, here is how to clean it.

  1. Unplug the printer.
  2. Wait for it to cool down.
  3. Remove the dust around the drum and corona wire. You can use a vacuum cleaner nozzle, a blow dryer, or even canned air to remove the dust off.
  4. Use a cotton swab and damp it off with rubbing alcohol.
  5. Now, gently rub the corona wire along with the cotton swab to remove the Toner and dust present on the wire.

How to store your printer?

  1. Unplug the printer and power it off.
  2. Remove the power cord and USB cord.
  3. Wrap up the cables in secure them with Velcro straps.
  4. Remove the paper from the tray.
  5. Use masking tape to secure the doors and panels.
  6. Put the printer in its original box, if available. Or use a trash bag.
  7. Put the wires and cables in a cardboard box.
  8. Store the printer in a cool, dry, and darkroom.

Does cartridge ink dry up in the printer if not used?

Ink Cartridge dries up quickly if not used regularly. It can dry up within 3-5 weeks, so make sure to run a print job every week. 

However, if you do not use the printer regularly, it will be ideal to store it properly, so the ink doesn’t dry out.

To make the most out of your printer, make sure that you properly seal the ink cartridge. 

Furthermore, store the ink cartridge upright in a cool, dry, and dark place. 

But once you install it back, make sure to run a test print once every couple of weeks to keep the ink cartridge primed.

If the ink cartridge has dried out and you don’t want to spend extra money buying a new ink cartridge for some emergency document printing, then here is how you can fix a dried-out ink cartridge.

  1. Take out the cartridge that has recently dried.
  2. Soak a paper towel in water.
  3. Keep the paper towel in a bowl.
  4. Place the cartridge on the wet towel for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Make sure the ink nozzles are facing downward.
  6. Dry the nozzles with a paper towel.
  7. Place it back in the printer.

Similarly, to fix another recently dried-out ink cartridge, follow the given steps.

Do laser printers toner dry out if not used?

The laser printer uses dry Toner for printing instead of wet ink. The Toner is already a dry substance, so it cannot dry out if you don’t use the printer often or run print jobs regularly. 

However, you should not keep the Toner exposed if you are not using the printer for an extended period. The Toner can get clumped, so storing it in a dry and dark place is always ideal.

Toner doesn’t have any shelf life if it is present in original packing. However, the Toner, once opened, can expire anywhere between 18-24 months

HP toner lasts up to 2 years, even if it is seal packed. So basically, don’t keep the Toner exposed to direct sunlight, moisture, and wet place. 

If you are moving somewhere or not using the printer for long, store the Toner powder in its original packing.

Are laser printers better for infrequent use?

Laser printers are costlier in the short term. You need to spend more on the hardware, particularly if you want a colour model. 

But laser printers tend to be more reliable so that they will last longer compared to Inkjet printers. 

If you often use laser printers, they don’t have nozzles that can clog, unlike the Inkjet printers.

Furthermore, laser printers produce crystal clear text if you are printing out resumes, documents, etc. Even a 10-year-old laser printer will print ten times better and clearer text than the latest inkjet printers.

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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.

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