How to Make Printer Ink Last Longer: Your Guide to Making Ink Cartridges Last Longer

how to make your printer ink last longer

Struggling with the frequent expense and hassle of replacing printer ink and looking for tips on making ink cartridges last longer? You’re not alone. Many of us face the annoyance of cartridges running dry at the most inconvenient times. 

But what if you could learn how to make printer ink last longer, ensuring your documents come out crisp and clear for longer, all while saving money? 

In this guide, we’ll reveal practical tips and tricks to maximize your ink’s longevity, transforming the way you print and easing the burden on your wallet. Get ready to unlock the secrets to making your printer ink go the extra mile.

How to Make Printer Ink Last Longer

Considering how expensive printer ink can be, knowing how to make printer ink last longer can save you a lot of money long-term. There are plenty of ways to do this too! So we’ve collected the absolute best ways to prolong your ink usage below.

Adjust Your Printer Settings

Printers use an unnecessary amount of ink on their default settings. The first step you can take to make your printer ink last longer is to change your printer’s default settings to settings that use ink more efficiently.

Check your computer for updates to your printer’s default settings. For computers with Windows operating system…

  1. Click the Windows button in the bottom left corner of your screen
  2. Search “printer”
  3. Right-click on your printer’s name and select “Preferences”

There are a few different preferences you can change to save ink.

  1. Change preferences:
  • Set the print quality to “draft”
  • Choose to “print in grayscale”
  • Go to “document options” and choose to print multiple pages per sheet

These are just a few of the ways you can finetune your printer settings. You can tweak documents directly rather if you are serious about making printer ink cartridges last longer.

For example, when creating documents, especially in programs like Microsoft Word or Google Docs, adjust the line weight of your text. Heavier line weights use more ink, so opting for a standard or lighter weight can extend the life of your ink without compromising legibility.

Bypass Low Ink Warnings

You’re hopefully familiar with the pop-up notification that appears on your computer or printer when your cartridge is running low on ink or toner. What you might not be familiar with is how to bypass it.

Bypassing low-ink notifications is safe when you first receive them because your cartridge will still have enough ink or toner in it to print hundreds of documents before running out. You can safely extend the use of your cartridge by adjusting your printer settings. For example, here’s how you can bypass low ink cartridge warnings on an Epson printer:

  1. Open the Windows Control Panel
  2. Click on “Speed & Progress”
  3. Uncheck the dialogue box titled “Epson Status Monitor”

After turning off the status monitor, you will no longer receive low ink warnings or the “Ink Cartridge Error.” This means you will need to carefully monitor the print quality of your documents to know when to replace your cartridges. 

It should be fairly obvious your cartridge is running low on ink or toner when your printouts begin to appear faded or are missing colors. If not, you can learn how to tell if an ink cartridge is empty in our blog.

Reduce Your Use of Large or Bold Fonts

Large and bold fonts use more ink than smaller, “regular” fonts. By reducing the amount of large or bold fonts in your documents, you can slightly reduce ink usage. Use “regular” instead of bold when you can, and use smaller font sizes.

The font style you choose can also affect how much ink is used. Two commonly used ink-saving fonts are Arial and New Courier. Another font option is Ecofont, which you have to download, but supposedly uses 20% less ink than Arial and New Courier.

Proofread Before Your Print

How many times have you printed multiple copies of a document only to notice a glaring typo? By proofreading your documents multiple times before printing, you can easily avoid reprinting documents, and save yourself time and money. This is by far the easiest way to make your printer ink last longer, so don’t forget to proofread before you print!

Don’t Print Everything

It can be tempting to print important records, pictures, or online articles. However, doing so can use a lot of ink over time. Consider which documents are truly important to print, and which can be stored digitally on a hard drive.

In an office environment, set up a print quota system to encourage responsible printing. This can help to make users more aware of their printing habits and reduce unnecessary print jobs, indirectly saving ink.

Whenever possible, use digital signatures instead of printing documents for signing. This not only saves ink but also paper, and it streamlines the process of document approval and sharing.

When printing emails, select only the text you need instead of printing the entire conversation thread or all the email headers and footers. Some email programs allow you to highlight the text you want to print and select “Print Selection” in the print dialogue box.

Don’t Buy the Cheapest Hardware

Sometimes, in spite of the precautions you take to preserve ink, you may be faced with an unavoidable problem: Your printer and/or cartridges are cheap and unreliable. Cheap and unreliable printers and cartridges waste more ink than expensive, reliable printers and cartridges. But that doesn’t mean you have to buy the latest and greatest printing hardware.

Printers are generally cheap, and most of your money will be spent on ink or toner for your printer. That said, not all printers and cartridges are created equal. A printer’s efficiency (how much ink it uses versus how many documents it prints) can be greatly affected by the quality of its inner parts, and cheap parts aren’t usually high-quality. 

This isn’t to say that expensive hardware is inherently better than inexpensive hardware. Just that expensive hardware is more likely to contain high-quality parts, and thus, is more likely to perform better than cheaper hardware. The same goes for ink and toner cartridges.

To avoid buying too cheap of printing hardware, do research and read reviews before you buy a cheap printer or cartridges.

Maintain Your Printer

Once you’ve found a reliable printer, you need to take care of it to ensure it remains reliable. By performing regular cleaning and maintenance before and after printing, and by performing a more thorough cleaning at least once a year (preferably by a professional printer technician), you can prevent your printer from wasting ink unnecessarily.

You’ll know your printer requires maintenance when there are streaks, smears, or spotty ink on your documents. Take action before printing again, and make sure to clean your printer more regularly to avoid similar problems in the future. Your printer will thank you and you’ll be happy with how much longer your printer ink lasts.

Maintain Your Cartridges

Your cartridges require maintenance too, but differently from your printer. To keep printer ink from drying out, you need to store it properly. Here are some ways to make your printer ink cartridges last longer:

  • Store your cartridges when you aren’t using them. You can preserve ink when your cartridges aren’t in use by removing them from your printer and storing them in airtight plastic bags or containers. We recommend wearing gloves to do this, as printer ink can be toxic. If necessary, you can learn how to get printer ink off your hands in our blog. We also have a resource on what is printer ink made of if you’re wondering why you should handle it with care.
  • Store your cartridges at room temperature. Ink dries out faster when it is exposed to excessively hot or cold temperatures, compared to when it is stored at a moderate room temperature (about 68 degrees).
  • Moisten your cartridges regularly. Using a damp towel (that you don’t mind staining) and protective gloves, you can wipe down your cartridges to clean up ink spills. This can help to prevent clogs. Just remember to dry the cartridge before reinserting it into your printer.
  • Use your cartridges regularly. Try to print at least several pages every week using all the colors in your ink cartridges. Doing so will prevent less-used colors from drying out due to inactivity.
  • Remove and Shake the Ink Cartridge: Sometimes, ink can settle or become clogged. Gently shaking the cartridge can redistribute the ink and temporarily improve printing.

We have more tips on how to fix dry ink cartridge in our blog if necessary. But, let’s look at a few more parting tidbits on how to make printer ink last longer…

Additional Advice on Making Ink Cartridges Last Longer

We’ve covered some of the best solutions for making ink cartridges last longer. But, here are a few more unique ways if you’re willing to think outside of the box a little:

  • Use Ink-Saving Covers for Reports: For reports that require a cover page, instead of printing a full-color cover, use a pre-made paper cover that doesn’t require printing. This can save a significant amount of ink over time, especially for documents that are produced frequently.
  • Opt for Smaller Images and Charts: When images and charts are necessary in a document, resize them to be smaller when possible. Smaller images use less ink, and if the detail isn’t compromised, this can be an effective way to save ink.
  • Use Watermark Features for Drafts: If your printer has a watermark feature, use it to print large ‘DRAFT’ watermarks on documents that are not in their final form. This often uses less ink than printing the entire document in full draft mode.
  • Invest in a Smart Plug: A smart plug can be programmed to turn your printer off during hours of non-use without going through a full shutdown cycle, and turn it back on before the workday begins, potentially avoiding the maintenance cycle that uses ink.
  • Explore Alternative Document Formats: For internal use, consider alternative document formats that inherently use less ink, such as plain text files or markdown, especially when formatting is not a priority

Signs Your Printer Ink as at the End of its Life (and What to Do Next)

There you have it – how to make printer ink last longer! Ultimately, though, printer ink doesn’t last forever. You should watch out for the signs that it’s time to replace your ink cartridge, which include:

  • Faded Prints: The most obvious sign is when documents or images start to print with less intensity, and colors appear washed out or faded.
  • Streaking or Banding: When you notice horizontal lines or bands across your printouts, it’s often an indication that the ink levels are low or that the print head is clogged.
  • Color Shifts: Colors that don’t look quite right, such as purples printing as blue or oranges as yellows, could signal that certain color cartridges are depleting faster than others.
  • Inconsistent Printing: If some pages print well while others are poor quality, it could mean the ink is unevenly distributed or nearly gone.
  • Low Ink Warnings: Most modern printers will alert you with on-screen messages or indicator lights when your ink is running low – assuming you didn’t turn this setting off, per our advice on how to make printer ink last longer.
  • Missing Elements: When parts of your text or image are missing entirely, it’s a clear sign that the ink is insufficient to complete the print job.
  • Print Nozzles Check: Many printers have a function to print a test page that shows the status of print nozzles. Irregular patterns or gaps in the test page indicate it’s time to check your ink.

If you notice any of these signs, don’t sweat. We have tips on where to buy printer ink along with how to put ink in printer when the time comes to make the switch. Our blog also has resources on topics like printer toner vs ink, the best printers with cheap ink, how long does printer toner last, resetting ink cartridges, and more.

Final Thoughts on How to Make Printer Ink Last Longer

Hopefully, you’ve found at least a few methods above to try at home on your printer or printer ink cartridges. 

By adjusting your printer settings and proofreading before you print, you can easily avoid wasting ink unnecessarily, and ultimately make your printer ink last longer. You can also buy a reliable and efficient printer and cartridges, and simply maintain them to reduce the amount of ink they waste.

The price you pay for printer ink can increase quickly if you don’t take precautions to prolong your cartridges’ lifespans. Do ink cartridges go bad, though? Yes – printer ink eventually expires, but you can continue to use it beyond its expiration date if you take care of your printing tools. 

If, however, you bought too much ink and you’re wondering what to do with unused ink cartridges, consider selling your unused ink and toner cartridges online for cash.

When you sell ink cartridges here on our online storefront, you’re getting the best price for your cartridges. You’re also experiencing a seamless service, as we make the process as quick and easy as possible. Get started today and turn unused ink into cold hard cash!

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