Printer cartridges don’t last forever, but how long can they last? In this article, we break down the all of the basic factors that influence the life of your print cartridge, including shelf life and cartridge expiration dates so you can get the most from your printer.
Ink cartridges can dry out over time. If they are sitting in your machine for an extended period, they will eventually dry up and become unusable. We recommend printing once every couple of weeks to keep your ink cartridges operating smoothly. A printhead cleaning can usually get an idle cartridge up and running again. If dried up ink is causing a clog, the cleaning function works to prime your cartridges. Consult your printer manual for specific cleaning steps for your machine.
Toner cartridges are a slightly different story...
Toner cartridges will not dry out the same way an ink cartridge would due to the toner that is inside the cartridge. Unlike, ink, which is liquid-based, toner is a dry powder composed of plastic components so it will not dry out. You can leave a toner cartridge in your printer for weeks untouched, and it should still print.
What is my cartridge’s shelf life?
The shelf life of a printer cartridge is the approximate amount of time a cartridge will last in its sealed package. The shelf life for an original printer cartridge is 24 months and the shelf life for a compatible cartridge is 36 months.
Why do some cartridges have expiration dates?
Expiration dates are included on cartridges to encourage users to print before their printer ink becomes susceptible to clogs or print quality issues. Dates can be found on the side of the cartridge or on the cartridge box. Many factors, not just the expiration date, contribute to the eventual deterioration of a printer cartridge, including how it’s stored, the temperature of the storage environment and whether it’s in a sealed package or not.
Can I still use the cartridge after the expiration date?
Cartridges last longer when stored properly in the correct environment. Most last for at least two years after the purchase date if they remain in their sealed package. Even after two years, your cartridge might still be usable, so it could be worth trying. Keep in mind, an expired cartridge could potentially clog your printhead, which can be an expensive to fix, depending on what printer model you have.
Cartridges can dry up if they are not used properly. To get the most out of your printer cartridge, make sure it remains sealed and is stored upright in a cool, dark space like a desk cupboard. Once installed, be sure that you run a print job at least once every couple of weeks to keep the cartridge primed. We hope this guide was helpful. If you have any questions about caring for your cartridge, let us know!