How to Get More Ink Out of Your Cartridge

pile of empty Ink Cartridges

Inkjet printer technology has improved by leaps and bounds, but there’s still a limit to how much ink there is in each cartridge. Leaving ink unused in a cartridge costs you money, so it’s essential to use it until the last drop.

There are also measures you can take to prevent wasting ink during print jobs. Large businesses and busy families can make the most of their purchases by printing wisely and taking good care of ink cartridges. Here are our best tips on how to get more ink out of an empty cartridge.

Shake the Cartridge

The classic ink-stretching trick is to remove the ink cartridge and shake it several times. This is especially helpful after your printer has been sitting unused for a week or more. Ink settles and dries quickly, especially in cold climates, so a few careful shakes could allow you to print a few more documents. This method also works on toner cartridges, so it’s a good trick for around the office.

If the cartridge is very dry and there is simply no ink left, shaking it won’t work. Also, be careful not to touch the contacts or nozzle with bare hands. Not only could it get ink on you, but touching the contacts can also cause damage to the cartridge.

Clean Out Clogs

Sometimes, nozzles on print cartridges can dry out before the cartridge itself is actually dry. This can result in poor print quality that makes you think the cartridge is ready to be thrown out. However, it’s easy to get several dozens of more pages out of a clogged cartridge if it is cleaned carefully.

The printer’s self-cleaning feature is best for clearing clogged nozzles. If that doesn’t work, try gently using a hairdryer to warm up the ink. Once the cartridge is warm, immediately re-insert and print again to get the ink flowing. A wet paper towel can also work to remove dried ink, but make sure to handle the cartridge carefully.

documents on the table

Use Economy Printer Settings

Whether you’re printing from your web browser or using a word processor, you can typically adjust your printer settings to use less ink. This is most helpful for documents with a lot of graphics, but it can save significant ink over longer black-and-white text documents as well.

Using these settings will cause a slight drop in print quality. However, it’s an excellent option for printing materials that won’t be scrutinized up-close or will be thrown away soon after use.

For users who frequently print large amounts of text, it’s worth it to download a printer-friendly font system. For example, Econofont optimizes font to use significantly less ink while keeping the same appearance. It’s compatible with a wide variety of fonts in any Windows program.

Try “Printer-Friendly” Versions

Though not all websites offer this anymore, many allow users to print ad-free versions of pages to cut down on ink and paper. This streamlined version of a webpage has all the text you need, without the extra sidebars and other graphics. This is especially good for news articles and recipe websites that can have a lot of ads.

Also, watch out for websites or documents that use very thick, large fonts. If need be, copy and paste the relevant text into another document, and then change the font size to something smaller and thinner. The difference may not matter with small documents, but those with dozens of pages can start to dry up ink cartridges.

For multi-page documents, try printing multiple pages per sheet. This can help save both paper and ink, which is essential for schools and other nonprofits. Be careful not to print the pages too small, as it can make the font much more challenging to read. For most documents, printing two pages per 8.5” x 11” sheet is the best option.

CMYK cartridges in blue recycle crate on white background

Dealing with Empty Cartridges

It’s important not to force your printer to use an ink cartridge that’s empty, as serious damage to your printer can result. When there’s no useable ink left in a cartridge, move on to the next one and recycle the old one.

With these tips on how to get more ink out of a cartridge, you can stretch your budget and make the most of each purchase. You can also buy ink cartridges in bulk to save money. At, we carry HP ink cartridges and other brands of ink and toner. Our bulk prices can allow you to print more for the same price, avoiding unnecessary stress over remaining ink.