It’s something many have experienced. You hit print, but instead of getting a crisp page, you get sheets of streaky ink. Or even worse, you may end up with pages containing nothing at all. Have your ink cartridges dried up?
Does printer ink dry out? Yes, but it isn’t that common. Expired or infrequently used ink cartridges can dry out. Printer ink cartridges that are improperly stored, especially at high temperatures will dry up. And sometimes refilling printer ink at home will dry them up.
Does Printer Ink Dry Out? 4 Causes
If you weren’t aware that ink cartridges can dry out, read below for the four main causes of dry ink cartridges and what you can do to avoid the problem.
1. They Are Expired
It’s a little-known fact that ink cartridges have expiration dates. If you stocked up on a whole bunch a couple of years ago, and they’ve been sitting in storage ever since there’s a good chance that their expiration dates have passed.
The good news is that ink cartridges can often work past their expiration date.
They’re designed to last up to 2 years from the date they were manufactured. If you bought them a year ago, and they’ve only expired in the past few months, they’re probably still good to use.
However, using expired ink can cause problems with your printer, so if they are far past their expiration date or you bought them more than a couple of years ago, it’s probably better to buy new ones.
How to Fix It
There isn’t a way to keep cartridges from expiring. Your best bet is to buy only the ink you need for the next year.
Unless you do a lot of printing, only keep one extra set on hand, and replace it when you put it into your printer.
2. They Aren’t Used Frequently
Cartridges that aren’t used for several months can dry out and become unusable. If your printer has been sitting unused for quite some time, there’s a good chance that your ink has gone dry.
How to Fix It
Make a point of printing a few pages each week or so to keep your cartridges in regular use. Make sure what you’re printing is using all the cartridges, too.
If you print only black and white each week, your color cartridges could dry up.
3. They Weren’t Stored Properly
A couple of improper storage methods could affect your ink cartridges. First, if your storage area experiences temperature fluctuations or the ink is stored near a heat source, it could affect the ink cartridges’ performance.
Second, if you store the cartridges on their sides, the ink could settle at the top of the cartridge. This storage method can lead to dried-up ink or streaky printing.
How to Store Ink Cartridges Correctly
- Keep your extra ink cartridges in a place where the temperature is consistent and not too warm. The ideal temperature is around 70°F (21°C).
- Also, make sure that you have the cartridges standing upright, so the ink will settle at the bottom of the cartridge.
Here’s more about how to keep printer ink from drying out.
4. You Refilled the Cartridges
Refilling ink cartridges yourself can seem like a great way to save money, but if done incorrectly, air can get into the cartridges. This air will cause the ink to dry out more quickly.
How to Fix It
The only way to head off this problem is to purchase ink cartridges from trusted manufacturers. It may cost a little more, but at least you know that the cartridges were properly filled and will work when you need them.
Here’s how to check ink and toner levels in a printer.
Keep Your Ink Cartridges Functioning (5 Tips)
Since you can’t fix a dry ink cartridge, make sure to handle your ink in a way that maintains its optimal function.
- Buy your ink from reputable manufacturers
- Don’t buy more ink than you’ll use in the next year
- Store the cartridges standing up
- Keep the ink in a place with a constant temperature that’s not too hot
- Print a few pages each week using all the colors
If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to get every last drop of ink out of your cartridges. Just make sure you recycle the cartridges once they’re empty.
Here’s more about keeping your printer ink from drying out.
Have a tips for giving ink cartridges a longer life? Have a question? Please join me in the comments!
Bryan Haines is a co-founder and writer on PrintLikeThis. We troubleshoot printer problems to get you back to printing.
He also writes at Storyteller Tech and is a travel blogger at Storyteller.Travel. Bryan is co-founder of Storyteller Media, a company he started with his wife, Dena.