Ink Cartridge Basics: Handling Tips, Expiration Dates & More

Hand Holding Ink Cartridge

If you have a printer, you need to know a bit about ink cartridges. Also referred to as inkjet cartridges, ink cartridges are the replaceable printer components that are responsible for depositing ink onto paper during the printing process. Each cartridge contains one or more ink reservoirs, as well as electronic contacts that communicate with your printer.

Each printer manufacturer makes its own type of ink and cartridge. Cartridges come in countless styles, and different brands use different ink formulations. Therefore, it is extremely important to purchase cartridges that are designed to be compatible with your specific printer model. If you are not familiar with inkjet cartridges, they can be a bit confusing. Keep reading to discover a few ink cartridge basics.

How to Handle Ink Cartridges

Ink cartridges should be sealed in their original packaging until you are ready to use them. They should be stored upright in a dry, dark area at room temperature. Exposure to extreme heat or cold can cause print quality to deteriorate and, in some instances, make cartridges unusable.

Before you replace an empty cartridge, take a few minutes to read your printer’s instruction manual. This will help you better understand the correct procedure and prevent damage to the cartridge or your device. If you have misplaced the manual, you should be able to find a PDF version by searching your printer’s model number or visiting the manufacturer’s website.

While the exact instructions for installing an inkjet cartridge vary, there are a few important things to note. Most ink cartridges have a plastic or a pull tab that protects the vent hole. This must be removed prior to installing the cartridge. Pay close attention to the gold contacts when installing. These contacts are extremely important, as they are used to monitor ink levels and allow your printer to communicate with the cartridge. Be careful not to touch them or let them come in contact with other surfaces. They don’t work well if they are scratched or dirty, so they need to be handled carefully.

When inserting your fresh ink cartridge, go slowly. If it doesn’t seem to be fitting properly, do not try to force it into place. Review your printer’s manual, or search the web for installation instructions. Sometimes watching a video makes the process a bit easier to understand.

ink cartridges

Ink Cartridge Expiration Dates

If you take a close look at an inkjet cartridge, you will see that it has an expiration date. You are probably used to seeing these dates on food, medications, and other perishable products, but you may wonder why something like an ink cartridge has one.

Typically, ink cartridges have a shelf life of one-and-a-half to two years from the date of manufacture. The expiration date provides an indication of when an ink cartridge may no longer work properly. Over time, ink tends to dry out and begins to settle inside the cartridge. This can cause your printer to clog, so most manufacturers recommend not using a cartridge that has passed its expiration date. Some models won’t even print once the expiration date has passed.

Many manufacturers also include a warranty date with their cartridges. After this date, the company will no longer guarantee the quality of its ink. The warranty date is generally much shorter than the expiration date. While inks tend to last well beyond the warranty date, they are no longer guaranteed after that point.

OEM vs. Remanufactured Ink

If you have ever looked for printer ink, you’ve probably discovered that you can purchase both OEM and remanufactured ink. OEM ink cartridges are manufactured by the manufacturer of your printer, and they are designed to provide optimal print quality.

Remanufactured cartridges are created by repairing and refilling original cartridges that have been sent in for recycling. Original manufacturers and other companies remanufacture cartridges to provide affordable refills for consumers and help keep cartridges out of landfills.

Remanufactured cartridges are cheaper than OEM ones, and they are designed to be safe to use in your printer. They provide good print quality, and they allow you to do your part to reduce your environmental impact. The choice between using OEM and remanufactured cartridges primarily comes down to personal preference.

Setting up modified ink tank for inkjet printer


Ink cartridges can seem confusing, but, once you get used to them and understand which ones you need for your printer, they are quite simple. Store them appropriately and handle with care, and they will provide you with the high-quality prints you need. At Ink Jet Super Store, we carry the ink you need. Whether you need HP, Canon, Lexmark, or another brand, we have you covered!