Cartridge Care and Installation

How to Store and Install printer cartridges for Inkjet Printers

Maintaining your printer at regular intervals will prolong the life of the printer and its cartridges. This article describes how to handle your ink cartridges and what you can do to keep your printer in a good shape.


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This article is part of the Printer and Printing Troubleshooting Guide.

Article chapters:
1. How to Store you ink cartridges
2. How to Install and Handle your ink cartridges
3. What to do with an Empty ink cartridge

How to Store your ink cartridges

Ink cartridges should be stored in their original packaging in an upright position with the printhead facing up. If you have several cartridges enclosed in the same package, ink might start leaking and mixing if cartridges are stored on their side.

Make sure that the storage space is not to warm. Excessive heat can make air bubbles in the cartridge expand causing ink to leak.

How to Install and Handle your ink cartridges

When you install a new cartridge, remove the tape that covers the print head. Follow the instructions given by your printer manufacturer on how perform the cartridge installation since procedures may vary.

If you get ink on your skin, wash it away with soap and water. If you get into your eyes, flush them immediately and thoroughly with water. Contact a doctor if your vision becomes impaired or if you feel any discomfort.

Print a test page to make sure that your printer is in operation after the new cartridges have been installed.

Do not:

  • Touch, wipe or cover the copper contacts or the nozzle plate of the printhead. Scratches to these parts might cause the printer to not work or will give you a poor print quality.The print head is very sensitive since it is the place where the ink comes out from the nozzles. HP have some instructions on what part of the printhead you can clean, read this carefully if you spot ink build ups on the printhead.
  • Shake your cartridges since this might damage the cartridge or cause ink to leak.
  • Leave your printer cartridges outside the printer for longer than 30 minutes if you intend to use them again. Printer ink is fast drying and will clog the microscopic nozzles in the printhead quickly making the cartridge unusable in worst case.

Always turn your printer off (by using the off-button) when not using it. By doing so, the cartridges will return to their capping position which prevents air to reach the printhead. Doing this is also wise since you save some dollars on your electricity bill.

Take care of your printer

We recommend you to clean the printer at least every 4-6 months depending on how much you use the printer and how clean the surrounding environment is from dust, hair and other particles. The tray should always be closed when not using the printer as this blocks dust and dirt from getting inside.

Print a test page every second week to make sure that the print head does not become clogged.

What to do with an Empty ink cartridge

Don’t remove the ink cartridge if it’s empty and you don’t have a spare cartridge to replace it with. If you remove the cartridge air will make the ink to dry up within hours clogging the nozzles. This is especially important on some Epson printers where the print head is attached to the printer and not to the cartridge.

Do not attempt to print if one of your cartridges are empty since this might cause damage to the print head. If you need to buy new cartridges, search for cheap printer ink here at InkGuides.

If you intend to refill your old cartridge, wrap the cartridge in cellophane and place it into a plastic bag. Store it cold until you can bring it in for refilling.

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