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Getting the most from your ink cartridge

A few useful facts and tips about ink cartridges that may save a few headaches


Ink evaporates over time

Most inks are primarily water-based and will evaporate over time if left unused. This will happen even quicker if you keep your printer in a warm location (e.g. above or near a radiator). If you’re a very light user, you may never get to use all the ink in your cartridge as it will simply evaporate over time.

Infrequent use can cause ink to dry out

If your printer is used very infrequently, ink can dry out and crystalise in the printhead of your cartridge. If you don’t print for months on end, you can expect the print quality to have deteriorated the next time you go to print. The likelihood is that there is still ink in your cartridge, but the printhead is blocked because ink has crystalised.


Tri-colour cartridges cause ink wastage

If your printer takes a tri-colour cartridge (e.g. HP 300/301/342/343 or Canon CL-511), this means the cartridge is only as good as its lowest ink. For example, if you print a photo of a lemon, your tri-colour cartridge will use a lot of its yellow ink, but not the magenta (red) or cyan (blue). Once the first of the 3 colours in your tri-colour cartridge runs out, the print quality will begin to deteriorate and your cartridge will need to be replaced or refilled. This means that in effect you will never get to use all the ink in your tri-colour cartridge.

High page-coverage items use more ink

Some lower capacity cartridges can be easily emptied by printing just a couple of high page-coverage items so please be careful!



It’s annoying folks, but the old adage “use it or lose it” very much applies. Our advice is not to store your printer in a very warm location and to use the ink within a year of purchase.

1. Print something small every couple of weeks to prevent ink drying out.
2. Leave your printer turned on, which allows it to perform self-cleans (applies to Brother printers)
3. If quality deteriorates, perform a manual printhead clean as per your printer instructions
4. If the problem persists, bring your cartridge/printer to The Cartridge Expert for inspection
Choose a printer that takes 4 separate cartridges; one for the black and one each for the 3 colours (cyan, magenta and yellow). All our Brother printers fit this description. See our home printer range for more details.

Be careful of printing items such as photos, crosswords, children’s drawings, documents with big thick lettering, photocopies of small items that leave black around the side of the page.
If you’ve signed up to one of our all-you-can-eat printer and ink deals, you don’t need to worry because you receive unlimited ink with your printer.