Storing Unopened Toner and Ink Cartridges. How Long Can an Unopened Cartridge last?

Updated: 2023-09-02

Table of Contents

Keeping your cartridges safe

You should begin storing your cartridges right away. Keeping them stored correctly can help avoid any damage to your printer. If you’re keeping your printer outside, keep it from extreme temperatures and make sure you clean out the cartridge slot regularly.

The best way to store your cartridges is by following a few simple guidelines to avoid any problems. It’s best to store your cartridges in the original box, sealed. Be sure to label and date the cartridges when they’re first put into storage, and make sure you don’t keep them in a hot car.

Store the cartridges with their packaging upright and in rooms with temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. You should never keep cartridges below 50 degrees Fahrenheit or above 95 degrees Fahrenheit. The cartridges should not be kept in cupboards or closets that contain gases such as ammonia or bleach.

Gaseous cleaning chemicals can significantly reduce the shelf life of ink or toner by degrading their composition.

Make sure your cartridges are sealed

If you do not fully seal your cartridge, it will dry out. This can happen if you leave your cartridge open next to your printer. Always close the cartridge before you pull it out of the printer or you may have to replace it.

The right packaging can help protect your cartridges from damage. A few simple things like putting the cartridge nozzle side up in an airtight container and reapplying the protective tape and the clip before storing your cartridge can go a long way to extending the life of the cartridge.

To avoid having to replace your old ink cartridge, try to store your cartridges in a cool, dark, dry place where it’s free of light. Wet a cloth or paper towel and put it next to the cartridge. Keep the cartridge in a cool, dark place and check the damp paper towel periodically to make sure it’s still wet.

Is it okay to use the cartridge after it expires?

If you store your cartridge correctly in the right environment, you might still be able to use it after it’s expired. Although sealed ink cartridges won’t last forever, most last at least two years after purchase.

There’s still a chance you can use a cartridge after two years, so it’s worth a shot. Nevertheless, there’s always the chance of an expired cartridge clogging your printhead. Make sure you keep that in mind before installing.

Built-in expiry dates

On most packages, manufacturers print “Sell By” or “Warranty Expiration” dates, but they don’t print the actual expiration dates. Many printers have a built-in expiration date for the ink or toner, which they encode into the chip of the cartridge.

You should be cautious when trying to install and use ink or toner if the “Warranty Expiration” or “Sell By” date on the cartridge package is more than two years old. The cartridge may still work if you store it right.

Before you start printing with an old cartridge, look for signs the printer is having a hard time initializing or cycling the cartridge. You can override the expiration date warning on most printers, but it’s not always a wise idea.

In case of any problems during the initial cycling or initialization of the cartridge, remove it and replace it.

Three steps to recapitulate

Keep cartridges in their factory packaging

Keep them sealed. Don’t open the packaging until you’re ready to put the ink cartridges in the printer. Ink cartridges come in original packaging, which protects them from the air. Ink cartridges dry out when they’re exposed to air.

Store your ink cartridges upright

You can avoid leaks by storing ink cartridges upright. Manufacturers recommend that you store your ink cartridges with the head facing up. Never store multi-color cartridges on their sides. Read the manufacturer’s instructions.

Store ink cartridges in a dark, cool place

You’ll get more ink cartridge life if you take more precautions. Buying ink cartridges in higher quantities allows you to pay less per cartridge since you can buy more at a lower price.

Air-conditioned offices are cool enough and drawers or cabinets will prevent the ink cartridges from being exposed to sunlight.

How do you store an opened printer ink cartridge?

Occasionally, you’ll need to store opened ink cartridges. Maybe you don’t use the printer much. Ink cartridges can be damaged if left in a printer for too long without being used.

You can put the ink cartridge in a heavy-duty Zip-lock bag and keep it on top of your refrigerator. Ink cartridges have been stored this way for over a year.

How long can you store an opened toner or ink cartridge?

Keep them in a cool, dark, and dry place, and they’ll last up to six months (longer in the fridge). As a general rule, store unopened cartridges for two years.

How To Get Rid Of Unused Printer Ink Cartridges

There’s a chance you can just sell them, they’re valuable to someone.

Online, you can easily sell unused print cartridges as long as they’re in their original packaging and within the expiration date.

Unless they’re out of the original packaging, unused printer ink cartridges should be recycled through either a manufacturer’s recycling program, a non-manufacturer’s mail-back program, or an office supply store.

Toner cartridges are usually much larger than ink cartridges. It’s even more important to recycle these parts.

What do you do with used toner cartridges?

Toner cartridges are easy to recycle. Toner cartridges for laser printers can be recycled the same way as ink cartridges.

What you can do:

  • Send your empty toner cartridges back to the manufacturer
  • Drop off used printer toner cartridges at an office supply store
  • Take your toner cartridges to a third party recycler
  • It’s important to recycle toner, and toner cartridges need to be disposed of properly.

Don’t make these mistakes when buying ink and toner

So now you know the proper way to store ink and toner cartridges at home. Also, we have to know how to avoid costly mistakes when buying ink and toner. Here are some mistakes to avoid:

Choose a printer that’s right for you

I mentioned this first, because the printer you use should be based on your printing habits. Inkjet printers, for example, are good if you only print photos, text, and color images occasionally. If you print a lot of color documents, a laser printer with a toner cartridge might be best.

Cartridges don’t have to be expensive

It becomes a continuous expense to replace ink and toner cartridges. You can spend a lot on them. Buying high-yield cartridges is one way to save. You’ll print more pages with these cartridges, which means lower printing costs. If your printer can use other cartridges than branded cartridges, use those instead. Compared to branded OEM cartridges, there are a lot of options for replacement cartridges.

How to avoid buying the wrong cartridge

Toner and ink cartridges often look the same. You can install an incorrect ink or toner cartridge into your printer, so be careful. They will fit, but they won’t work. You can’t return an open cartridge for a refund once it’s been used. That’s a costly mistake.

Take your old cartridges to the store so you can match them with the new ones. Double check your printer model and cartridge number if you buy online. Part numbers can be tricky to read.

Match your printer selection with your printing needs. You’ll save money if you know how to store ink and toner cartridges. If you’re buying a printer, think about how much it’s going to cost to keep it going, including ink refills.