Get the Most Mileage Out of Your Ink Cartridges

Knowing how to get more ink out of a cartridge saves you money and avoids running out of ink at crucial moments. Discover tips on how to extend printer ink.

If you're running a small business from home or are in charge of ordering supplies for your company, you know how valuable every last drop of printer ink is. Knowing how to get more ink or toner out of a cartridge will save you time, money and avoid running out of ink in the middle of a printing job. Discover smart solutions and sustainable tips to get the most mileage out of your ink.

Pause Before You Hit Print 

One solution for how to extend printer ink is to think before you print. Consider these helpful tips to conserve your ink:

Double-check your work.

Proofread for spelling and grammar errors and view the document in full-page mode to make sure it fits on the page. As a final quality check, preview before you print.

Choose smaller fonts.

Larger type soaks up more ink, so consider dropping the point size and selecting less chunky fonts. Another option is to download Ecofont — which unnoticeably converts the letters and characters in your document into ink-saving equivalents, and saves up to 50% in ink.

Avoid using bold type.

Heavier fonts mean more ink, so use bold type sparingly.

Check your print settings.

Many printers have settings to conserve ink. Open up the printer settings on your computer and look for these built-in ink default settings. Printing in draft mode is quicker and uses less ink when the quality doesn't need to be perfect. Don't need a color printout of that document? Use the grayscale setting and conserve more expensive color ink.

How to Get More Ink Out of a Cartridge 

If your printer indicates it's out of ink, try these tricks in a pinch:

Clean your cartridge.

This may seem counterintuitive since doing this will use more ink — but if your cartridges are clogged, cleaning the printhead might get the ink flowing again.

Print once a week.

Again, this seems wasteful, but inkjets can dry up when not used regularly. Print a page a week to keep your ink cartridges revved up.

Trick the printer.

Low ink doesn't mean no ink. Remove the cartridge, wipe it with a lint-free cloth and reinsert it. This process can fool your printer into "thinking" you've put in a new cartridge and may help it eke out a few more pages. 

Keep Printing With an Empty Cartridge

Even if your printer objects, it's possible to print when one of its cartridges is empty. Most printers will give you the option to continue to print if one of your color cartridges is depleted by choosing to print black ink only. If you aren't given the option, simply print in grayscale.

If the black ink cartridge is empty, things get more complicated — however, your color cartridges can print in black by choosing Color Set under Properties and Ink Set in your printer settings. Only do this when necessary, as it isn't cost-effective and could damage your printer.

How Long Does Printer Ink Last?

Most ink cartridges come with a sell-by date, which is typically around one year. Unopened ink can degrade, but you can usually use ink cartridges from unopened packages up to two years from the date of manufacture if stored properly. Once opened, ink cartridges can be stored for up to six months. Keep in mind that without regular use, the cartridge may dry up more quickly. 

If you're wondering how many pages you'll get out of your cartridge, refer to the packaging, which will indicate the approximate yield. If you want to get more bang for your buck, consider buying high yield cartridges, which produce thousands of pages. 

Ensure a Continuous Flow of Ink

We've all been there — printing an important document when the ink runs out halfway through the job. Make sure this never happens again with a smart printer. These printers integrate with your network, enabling more energy efficiency, troubleshooting cues and added security features. Plus, they accommodate a high quantity of ink, so you won't run out in the middle of a print job.

Whether you print the occasional document or your printer works overtime, keep it fed with a wide selection of ink cartridges from the biggest names in printing, including Epson, Brother and Canon — plus an HP Instant Ink plan, that automatically sends ink to your printer as you need it.