Most of us are not used to exchanging ink cartridges on a regular basis, especially the newer generation of entrepreneurs who send everything in PDF over e-mail or phone – I’m actually one of them and I prefer .PDF files over prints. But, I do understand that printing documents, regardless of the frequency, still plays an essential part within modern businesses which still rely on paper, and to cut costs, most of us are searching for tips on how to keep the expenses lower.

This is where we come to today’s topic on how to extend the life of an ink cartridge, where I’m  going to cover some of the best tips on how to squeeze even the last drop of ink out of your device (yeah, I know how this sounds, but come on, ignore it, this is a serious tutorial and I’m doing my best!).

To start off, we’re first going to cover some details on how to take care of your cartridges before installation, then we’re going to cover the regular day to day use with the best tips on how to manage the spending, and then after that how to handle the feared “low ink” message. Let’s go!

Extend life of ink cartridge black ink


How to store new or unused Ink Cartridges before their first installation?

When it comes to cartridges, it’s always recommended to have an additional pack of them somewhere in the office, but what most of the newer uses do wrong is, they don’t know how to store them properly.

At one point, I kid you not, I saw my secretary keeping the spare cartridges in the office fridge near the milk, and she literally insisted that it’s near the milk, just because it’s a convenient place for her to remember to “shake the cartridges up” every now and then when she reaches out for her coffee milk.

So, don’t be that person they prefer room temperature and air sealed packages. Put them in to a zip lock bag and store them somewhere near the printer.

So, don’t be that person, do not store your cartridges in the fridge, it’s not recommended to freeze, shake or dance chachachá with them (you can try to ask them out though, but I don’t know if they can fill the right spot for you… Get it? FILL THE SPOT 😀 – ink, fill the… Spot? …ok never mind). A zip-lock bag and a few inches of space near your printer will suffice.

How to extend the life of your ink cartridges during active use?

Ok, you finally installed a fresh new set of ink cartridges in your printer, you stained your Ralph Lauren Shirt and office desk with the old cartridges, yelled at the secretary because he or she is laughing about it and, the ungrateful prick. On top of that, you paid a hefty price for the cartridges, because the cursed little plastic trash bags cost a fortune –  and you don’t plan to repeat this whole experience in the nearer feature, yeah, I get you. Now, this is what you can do about it:

Extend life of ink cartridge

BY THE POWER OF GRAYSCALE!!

1.) Adjust the printing settings so that you spend less ink on more prints

Most offices don’t need full color high DPI prints for every piece of paper that comes out of the printer, but we still print with the default settings which, you can already guess, do exactly that. So, before you leave the little ink eater to your co-workers, tinker around with the settings and follow these instructions:

a.) Change the quality level of the prints – most devices have an option called “Fast Normal” or “Draft Mode”, which is like a default setting for printing everything which is not important. The prints will still look good, and I bet with you that Back Office and HR will not see the difference, but in return it will save a lot of ink. To do this, go to the Control Panel, click on Printers and Faxes, right click on your printer, Print Preferences, Advanced and there you have the “Draft” or “Fast Normal” option there.

b.) Enforce grayscale printing – in 99% of situation color printing is not necessary, it’s just a “nice to have thing”, which in return costs a lot of money. So go to the settings of your printer and under Properties or Preferences hit Grayscale as the default option. It’s going to save you a bunch of color ink, and in case you need something with color, it’s just a few clicks away.

c.) Turn off the printer if its not in use – If the printer is on, the ink is not parked properly, because it’s being prepped for printing, which means that air is going inside. The result? You’re going to get problems with the nozzle and the ink could dry out and, thus, you get blank pages in stead of printed ones – and you don’t want that. Either have the sleep option available or turn off the printer if it’s not in use.

d.) Tell your designers that comic sans is not a font, it’s a comedy – joke aside, there is definitely a difference in printing out 50 pages of a project plan in Calibri 11 and the same amount in Arial Black. A good skinny fond means more letters, less ink, get it? Ok, now go and tell it to your guys.

2.) Second, clean up the nozzles of your printer

When I was a kid, I imagined the printer nozzles as the nose of the printer, which my father kept clean with some special tools which I don’t remember now correctly, but there is some truth in this story.

If your printer started printing broken lines or faint images, you probably have a problem with the nozzles. If you have a printer which is less then two years old, then, in theory, you don’t have to do this. But as it usually goes with office printers, they are like village bikes, everyone is riding them, so maybe a yearly clean up wouldn’t be a bad idea, especially because it will extend the life of your ink cartridges if they are maintained properly.

The process is easy, just take the nozzles out of the printer (I mean, don’t pull them out, follow the instructions from the user manual on how to do it properly), soak them in to warm water with some detergent in it, clean them up from dried ink and remove all the debris you can find.

Once you have them clean and dry, install them back in to the printer. After that just follow the print head cleaning instructions of your printer (Control Panel – Devices and Printers – Right Click Properties – Services/Maintenance/Hardware – Nozzle Check – Start Cleaning Process).

Extend life of ink cartridge in printer

3.) How to manage the “low ink” message

The Low Ink message is like the Low Gas one, it’s OK to drive, just have the gas station in mind. So in this case, what I would recommend is, go and buy a new set as soon as you see the Low Ink message, not to exchange it immediately, no-no, we’re going to dry that plastic out until the last drop, but just so that you have a full spare ready in case you have an important document to print and the whole printer is running on air.

So, the process goes usually like this, if you see a Low Ink message:

  • First, go and buy the compatible ink set for your printer
  • Second, take out the old ink set, shake them gently to evenly distribute the ink, and if possible, put a masking tape over the sensor of the toner, this will tell the printer that the cartridge is still full and that it should actively use it
  • Third, ignore the low ink message and tell everyone in the office that you have this under control, or even better, print out “spare cartridges bought, waiting for the ink to run out”, just to keep the unfaithful ones at bay.

And that’s basically it, there’s nothing more I can teach you about extending the life of ink cartridges my printer Padawan, but I’m going to leave you with one small suggestion, it’s called Amazon Dash Replenishment Service, I use it, you should also, here’s what it does:


Welcome to the future of Automated Ink Ordering

Amazon Dash Replenishment Service is a system with which you can connect your Amazon account to your printer, but before you start asking me why would a printer need access to it, I need to tell you that it’s not because the little guy wants to watch the newest Prime series, no my friend, it’s because it can automate the ordering process so that you don’t have to search for the compatible ink cartridges and order them every year, which is enough time to forget which exact model you need and where to buy it.

It’s working like this, as I said, you connect your Amazon Account, through the application, to your printer, you check the right products and, once the ink goes low, the printer automatically orders his ink.

There is just one serious downside to this whole modern mambo jumbo – it doesn’t install the ink for you 🙂 Jokes aside, really good stuff, check it out under this link: Amazon Dash Replenishment

How to extend life of ink cartridge