Mending an Inkjet printer

A guide to getting more life and value from your printer.

The Guardian has a nice little guide to maintaining an inkjet printer and saving money.

We’ve never had good experiences with recycled ink or toner cartridges and have always found their quality to be poor. But others swear by recycled/refilled cartridges so if you find a reliable supplier, stick with them.

If you do buy original manufacturer cartridges, shop around for a good price. Most office supply stores charge near retail while online suppliers or Ebay (reputable merchants only) can ship to you the same thing for much less.

Whether you use original or recycled cartridges, ignore the ‘low’ indicators since they are often rigged to trigger prematurely and increase sales. We use the ‘low’ indicator as a reminder to order a replacement online but don’t replace until the pages noticeably deteriorate.

An air duster is a great addition to any computer users toolkit. Either a small manual blower or better, a can of compressed air. A high pressure can of plain air can blow away all manner of stuff from the innards of printers and the undersides of keys.

Reader Jim S. has some good comments:


I use compatible or refilled cartridges for draft copies and then originals for quality prints.

I always shop around for original manufacturer cartridges and have had some good deals (I usually buy from a South American river 🙂 ) but have found that the shelf life as shown on the packet can be a bit short, usually less than a 6 months.

This is not really a problem as they are often used well before then so the ink on my prints costs about 25% of buying direct. I also wait until one of the colours stops printing before swapping out – this can save another 10% or so

Jim is right about inkjet  cartridges ‘drying out’ if left on the shelf too long.  Happily it’s not an issue with toner cartridges for laser printers.  We’ve had some sit on our shelf for a year or more before use with no trouble.