Why should you care how old your printer cartridge is?  Whether you are an Office Manager, IT Supervisor, Sole Proprietor, or a parent staying within a budget, sometimes buying in bulk doesn’t save you money. You may think stockpiling your printer cartridges when they go on sale may be a good idea, but unless you use them as quickly as you purchase them, your savings will quickly be flying out the window in wasted money.

Inkjet cartridges as well as laser toner cartridges have a shelf life of approximately one year. This is only if these cartridges have been unopened. With inkjet cartridges, eventually the ink inside the cartridge will harden, clogging the printer head and render the printer cartridge useless. So you may ask yourself – do you have to wait until your printer runs out of ink before you run out and purchase a new one? Fresh ink is best, so perhaps you can set a reminder for yourself on your smart phone or send a future e-mail to yourself when you think you might need to purchase your next printer cartridge.

If you already have printer cartridges waiting to be used, make sure to maximize their shelf life by not opening the packaging. Air is enemy number one. Secondly, if the printer cartridges are stored directly in light or near a heat source, they need to be moved to a cool dark area. Exposure to high temperatures can cause the ink to harden or cause thick ink deposits.

Now your printer cartridge has been installed, how do you keep it working? If you have had your share of fading and jams, chances are you had problems with your printer cartridges. There is a way to maintain them once you install them. One way is to print a page or two every two to three weeks. This simple step will save you head ache as well as money.

Another step not mentioned above, you want to make sure you allow your printer to complete a print cycle before turning it off. If you turn your printer off while it is printing, it will stop in the middle of a print job and that can cause the print head to clog or the printer cartridge to leak.

Up until now, we have been talking mostly about inkjet printer cartridges. You may be asking yourself – what about laser toner cartridges? The same rule applies. Toner printer cartridges also have a shelf life of 1 year regardless of what you may have heard or read. Even though the toner is a dry powder, if you attempt to use it past the expiration date, it won’t react to the paper the way it’s supposed to. It will not fuse to the paper or it will melt or solidify requiring a costly service call. If you ever need help with your printer cartridges, or need to purchase more toner or ink, Flex Imaging is happy to help.