When Should I Replace My Printer Cartridge?

The first indication that new cartridges are needed is when your printer displays a “out of ink” notice, although you may not have to do so right away. There are a few simple techniques to evaluate your cartridges’ readiness for replacement if you want to be absolutely certain. Here, we demonstrate how and provide some advice on increasing cartridge life so you can put off that inescapable replacement order.

1) Check the ink levels on your printer’s display. When in doubt, check the ink levels on your printer cartridges! Almost all printers have a way for checking the ink or toner levels in the cartridges on the printer’s display screen. The “maintenance” portion of the display screen is where you can find the majority of the cartridge levels. Continue to the print test below if a certain color is running short.

2) Run a print quality report. Each cartridge’s condition is broken down in the print quality report. Your printer produces a color sample of each cartridge when you run the test, allowing you to identify the problematic cartridge. The software that was downloaded when you installed the printer can be used to access this test, as can the “maintenance” part of the printer display.

3) If you own an inkjet printer, run a print head cleaning, then try printing again. It’s not always necessary to immediately acquire new cartridges in response to subpar test results. A print head cleaning will usually fix the problem if you haven’t printed for a while and your ink only needs to be primed. It takes a couple of minutes to clean. Afterward, print the test page once more. You can start printing if the test pattern appears to be solid. Allow the printer to sit for about 10 minutes before running a second cleaning, letting the ink soak on the print head if the quality is still subpar. Remember that cleaning your printer can deplete some of the ink in the cartridge, so do not be alarmed if your ink levels decrease somewhat following the cleaning. As a result, we advise against doing a cleaning more than 1-2 times. A cartridge can quickly become empty after several cleanings, which accelerates the need for a replacement. Below, we demonstrate how to clean an Epson Workforce Pro WF-3820 printer step-by-step. Although most printers follow similar procedures, check your printer’s user manual for details on how to operate your particular model.

4) Still getting poor prints?  It may be time to replace! It’s probably time to replace your printer cartridge if rocking the cartridge or cleaning the print head did not help. In their sealed packaging, printer cartridges only have a two-year shelf life; if they are left unused in your printer, they have a far shorter shelf life. If an ink cartridge sits unused for an extended period of time, it will typically dry out. You may keep toner cartridges in the printer for months between prints because they don’t dry out like ink cartridges and are a little more forgiving. But eventually, some internal parts will degrade and need to be replaced. To keep your cartridges primed and working at their best, we advise printing at least once every couple of weeks.

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