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Keval Shah

January 20, 2020

Does Printer Ink Expire?

does printer ink expire

Maybe you’re buying printer ink cartridges online. Maybe you’ve bought more cartridges than you need. Either way, the question “Does printer ink expire?” has probably crossed your mind on more than one occasion. 

Yes, ink cartridges expire. Typically, it takes about one and a half to two years, so you have plenty of time to spare if you use your printer frequently. Still, it’s worth knowing when your ink will expire when you buy it in bulk to save money, or when you buy it online. 

When Will Your Ink Expire?

To find out when your printer ink will expire, refer to the expiration date on the cartridge. Printer ink manufacturers always include expiration dates on their cartridges so that users can avoid damaging their printers by using expired ink. Ink expires as air enters the cartridge and causes the ink to dry out and thicken overtime. That dried-out, thickened ink can clog your printer’s ink-delivery system. Ink expiration dates are provided so that you can avoid clogging your printer.

You can find your printer ink’s expiration date on the side of its cartridge, or on the side of the box it came in. If the expiration date has passed, we recommend that you safely dispose of the ink, by contacting the manufacturer and having them recycle the cartridge. If, however, the ink is about to expire (according to the expiration date), it may still be usable.

Expiration dates are technically estimates, meaning that if your printer ink is expiring on the same day you are using it, it may still be safe to use. Manufacturers set expiration dates to be earlier than the ink expires so that users have time to realize their ink is expiring soon, and they can avoid any potential issues. So, you may have a little more time to use your (technically) expired ink if the date listed on its cartridge is close to the date you are using it. That said, if your printer ink does expire and you use it, you risk damaging your printer beyond repair.

Printer manufacturers often include warranty dates for your ink cartridges, since they cannot guarantee the accuracy of the expiration dates. So, check your cartridge, or the box your cartridge came in, for the warranty date, in case you use expired ink in your printer.

How to Avoid Using Expired Ink

Generally, the expiration date listed is a good indicator of when you should stop using the ink, however, there are other factors that can affect the ink’s usability. A few common factors include, how safely the ink is stored, the temperature of its storage place, and if it has been removed from its packaging or remains sealed. Here are a few actions you can take to combat those factors:

  1. Store your ink safely. Always store your ink cartridges in an upright position, in whatever way the cartridge was designed to sit/stand. Not only will this prevent your cartridges from falling over, it will ensure that the ink inside doesn’t shift to one side, which can create inconsistencies in the amount of printer ink used at a time. Instead of having consistently dark ink across your freshly printed document, the ink may be sparse in areas and overly thick in others. This also does occur when printer ink expires, so consider its expiration as well as its storage.
  2. Store your ink at room temperature. When exposed to extreme heat or cold, printer ink deteriorates faster than at less extreme temperatures. For example, excess heat causes ink to bubble up or leak, and excess cold causes ink to separate. Heat tends to be more damaging to ink than cold, since cold cartridges can still be used after warming to room temperature. Overall, if your ink cartridges are exposed to extreme temperatures for too long, the ink inside may be rendered unusable, so it’s safest to store ink cartridges at room temperature.

  3. Keep your ink cartridges sealed. Ink dries somewhat quickly when exposed to air, so it’s best to seal your printer cartridges when they are not being used. We recommend storing your cartridges in vacuum-packed bags and placing tape over vent holes. You cannot prevent all air from seeping in, but you can limit your ink’s exposure to air and extend its shelf-life. Just remember to remove the tape before installing your cartridge!

By storing your ink cartridges safely and at room temperature, and by carefully sealing them when they are not being used, you can easily and effectively extend their expiration date. Printer ink does expire, but it doesn’t have to expire so quickly. 

Remanufactured Ink Cartridges

It can be tricky to avoid using expired ink when you are working with remanufactured cartridges. That’s because remanufactured cartridges have been used before, but refurbished and refilled with ink to be used again. Expiration dates on these cartridges can be misleading, since they refer to the previously-used ink, so figuring out the new expiration date involves a bit of guessing on your part. For example, if you buy a remanufactured cartridge that has an expiration date of January 2015, that doesn’t mean the ink has already expired. It means the original ink, once stored in the remanufactured cartridge, expired on January of 2015. If a new expiration date is not provided, just know that remanufactured cartridges can be safely used for up to two years from the date you purchase them. For reference, add two years to the date of purchase and write the new expiration date on the side of your remanufactured cartridge. That way, you can still dispose of the cartridge on time and avoid damaging your printer with expired ink.

Does Printer Ink Expire?

In conclusion, while printer ink does expire, there are actions you can take to avoid using expired ink in your printer. Keeping track of expiration and warranty dates for your ink cartridges, especially when you buy them in bulk or online, will help you to avoid potential printing errors. Additionally, knowing how to properly store your ink will help to prevent it from expiring prior to the given expiration date. By taking these safety measures, you can enjoy quality printing for years to come.

If you buy printer ink in bulk to save money, or online to save time, you must pay special attention to expiration dates, since you’ll be storing ink for longer than most users. In this case, it’s easy to buy more ink than you need. Rather than worry about any excess ink expiring, considering selling your extra cartridges online for cash. You can always buy more cartridges later on, once your current ones expire.