10 Tips for Cartridge Care

Here are a few suggestions to help you get the most out of your inkjet cartridge, OEM or refilled.

  1. Before installing the cartridge, make sure the plastic clip covering the print head (usually only on color cartridges) and the tape have been removed.
  2. Keep the contacts at the back of the cartridge slot on the printer clean. Ink and dust may cause the printer to lose contact with the cartridge resulting in the printer indicating an error. These can be cleaned with a cotton swab dampened with alcohol or distilled water. Allow them to dry completely before installing the cartridge.
  3. Be sure to print something, anything, at least once every two weeks. Allowing inkjet cartridges to sit unused for longer than that is to risk the print head drying out. power_off
  4. If you know you won’t be using your inkjet printer for several weeks, remove the cartridges, put the clip on the color cartridge, put each cartridge in a baggie and store them in a cool, dark location.
  5.  Keep your printer clean. Printers need good ventalation just like computers do. Use canned air to keep the covering over fans clear and don’t sit your printer on carpeting or a similar surface. This applies to both inkjet and laser printers. 
  6. Keep printing until you notice an obvious degredation degradation to the print quality.*
  7. As soon as possible after the cartridge runs out of ink bring it in for refilling. The longer a cartridge sits empty, the more likely ink will dry in the print head and reusing the cartridge will be made more difficult.
  8. Do not attempt to clean the print head of an ink cartridge with alcohol or any substance other than distilled water. 
  9. Do not leave cartridges, especially those just refilled, sitting in direct sunlight or anywhere the temperature is high. Ink expands as it warms, and if the cartridge is heated too much the ink will force its way out of the cartridge. Laser cartridges should be stored where it’s cool, dark and the humidity low.
  10. Make sure you don’t force cartridges into printers. Cartridges have keys on them to prevent the black cartridge from being installed in the color cartridge slot, for example. Forcing a cartridge into place will most likely damage both the cartridge and the printer. Cartridges should install as easily as they came out. Consult your printer’s manual if replacing the cartridge proves difficult.

*Many printers will indicate a low ink level even though there’s plenty of ink left in the cartridge. They do this because printers cannot measure the actual level of ink in a cartridge. Instead, the number of pages a cartridge should be able to print, according to the manufacturer, is stored in the printer’s memory. Each time a new cartridge is installed, the counter resets and counts out pages as they pass through the machine. However, a page is not a page. Manufacturers use an algorithym to decide what constitutes a page. Generally the standard is 5% page coverage. In other words, if all the printed portion of a page were gathered together in one corner it should cover 5% of an 8½”x11″ page. In many cases, the page count method isn’t an accurate way to assess the amount of ink left in a cartridge. This is why we urge our customers to keep printing until the quality of the printing begins to degrade. That way you get the full use of all the ink in the cartridge.

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