How to Put Ink in a Printer Properly and Safely

how to put ink in printer properly and safely

An inkjet printer is an excellent tool for producing high-quality photographs and clean-cut documents. Of course, you’ll have to replace the old ink cartridges with new ones when the ink supply runs low. After you purchase new ink cartridges, you may be wondering how to put them in your printer without damaging your equipment.

In this step-by-step guide, we’ll talk you through replacing the ink cartridges in your inkjet printer properly and safely, from taking out the used ink cartridges to unpacking and inserting the new replacement cartridges. 


Printability in inkjet printing is proven to be especially effective compared to other types of printing. Knowing how to replace ink cartridges correctly can help you keep this important home or office tool in commission when you need it.

As we explain the cartridge-replacement procedure, we’ll break each step down into three main sections to describe each step in Canon, HP, and Epson printers. 

At the end of the step-by-step guide, there’s a troubleshooting section that includes a more in-depth look at how to not only deal with but also how to prevent an accidental ink cartridge leak. It also provides advice about what to do if your skin, eyes, or mouth come into direct contact with an ink spill. 

Before beginning any of the following steps, turn on your printer. Now, you’re ready to get started.

printer printing color photo

Step 1: Open the ink tray. 

Get started by opening your printer’s ink tray to access the cartridges. 

  • Canon 

With Canon PIXMA printers, you can just open the lid. There should be a support on the right-hand side of the operations tray you can use to prop up the lid while you work. 

The cartridge holder will roll into view to the center of your operations tray. There should be two holder slots labeled “B” and “C.” 

If it’s a Canon model using finer cartridges (like the MG/MX series of printers), then the ink tray should be in the center of the machine, above the paper output tray.

The holder will be on the right-hand side of the opened operations tray, or the holder will move into what is called a replacement position behind the head cover. 

There is no need to open the head cover by hand; it will open on its own as the holder moves behind the head cover.  

  • HP 

When you open the top lid of the printer, the receptacle holding the old ink cartridge should slide down to the right-hand side of the tray. When you’re facing the printer, the colored ink cartridge is in the left-hand slot, and the black ink cartridge is in the right slot.

  • Epson

Lift the scan lid of the printer and be careful not to touch either the print head (the mechanism that moves the old cartridges) or the white cable at the back of the tray. 

Instead, press the STOP button—a red circle with an inverted triangle within it—to the right of the printer’s control panel. The print head will then move the old cartridge to the indicator position.

Press the STOP button again, and the print head will move the cartridge into the replacement position. 

epson print heads quote

If the print head doesn’t move at all, there aren’t any cartridges running low enough to warrant being replaced. If you want to go ahead and replace them with new Epson printer ink cartridges anyway, press the STOP button for six seconds, and the print head will move the cartridge to the replacement position, ready for you to take it out. 

Step 2: Remove the existing cartridge.

Prepare the printer to accommodate your new ink cartridges by removing the old ones. Once you remove the used cartridges, make sure they are not accessible to young children or pets. Be careful not to let your skin come into direct contact with ink while replacing cartridges. 

  • Canon 

To remove the existing cartridge for both the PIXMA and the MG/MX models, push down gently on the old cartridge, and it should click and then become dislodged. Then you should be able to pull it out. If you want to replace the color Canon printer ink cartridges, take out the cartridge from the left-hand slot. To replace the black ink, take out the cartridge from the right-hand side.

  • HP

Facing the printer, push down on the existing cartridge gently, and it should slide down out of the holder. Be careful not to push down on the cartridge too hard.

  • Epson 

There should be a little clip on the top of the cartridge as you’re looking down on it from above the printer. Press the clip with your forefinger and use your forefinger and thumb to lift out the cartridge. 

replacing ink cartridges in printer guide

Step 3: Remove the packaging from the new cartridge.

Unwrap your new ink cartridges, so they’re ready to do their jobs. 

  • Canon 

Take the protective tape off your new ink cartridge so you can see the print nozzle and electrical section. Try not to touch the electrical section, as handling this part of the cartridge can mess up the printing process.

  • HP

There should be a pink tab on the new HP printer ink cartridges; pull it up to remove the protective strip. 

Again, don’t touch the copper electrical contact area or the ink nozzles, to avoid obstructing the printing process. Excessively handling these parts can cause ink clogs and stalled electrical connections inside the printer.

  • Epson

While the cartridge is still in its packet, shake it several times, gently. Make sure the ink cartridge is still in its packet when you shake it, as shaking a cartridge outside of its packet could result in an ink leak. Afterward, remove the packet. 

Be careful not to touch the green tab on the side of any of the Epson cartridges, so you don’t cause the ink to dry up. 

Step 4: Place the new cartridge.

The step you’ve all been waiting for: how to put ink in a printer. 

cmyk cartridge focus

  • Canon 

For the PIXMA, insert the black ink cartridge in the holder labeled “B” and the color cartridge into the holder labeled “C.” 

When you push cartridges into their slots, they should click into place: the reverse process and sound to when you clicked down and took out the old cartridges. 

For the MG and MX ranges, simply push the cartridges into the slots until you hear a click. The print nozzles of the cartridge should be facing toward the back of the printer, away from you. 

Put a black-ink cartridge in the right-hand side and a colored-ink cartridge in the left side of the holder.

  • HP 

Turn the new ink cartridge around, so the copper electricity section is on the bottom and the ink nozzle is facing the printer. 

Tilting the cartridge a little upward, gently push it into its corresponding holder (color ink on the left, black ink on the right). It should click when it’s in the right place. 

  • Epson

First, pull off the yellow strip on the side of the new ink cartridge.

Then, push the cartridge into the newly empty slot in the printer. The little clip (which you pushed down on to remove the old cartridge) at the top of the cartridge should be facing toward the back of the printer, away from you, along with the rest of the cartridges. 

Step 5: Close the ink tray. 

After you complete the final step, you’re good to go for printing crisp, bold documents. 

Don’t turn the power off on any of these printers while the processes of charging ink and aligning cartridges are taking place; you’ll only waste ink by doing so.

  • Canon 

Pop down the lid of the printer. If there’s a green light blinking on the printer’s top, that means the cartridges have been inserted correctly. Once the light turns into a “1,” you can start printing.  

  • HP

Close the cover of the printer. Next, you’ll want to line up your new cartridges properly. To do this, open your HP Solution Center (find HP in either your Programs or Applications in your desktop settings) and go to Settings >> Printer Toolbox >> Align the Print Cartridges >> Align. 

start printing canon quote

  • Epson

Pop down the lid of the printer and press the red STOP button again. The power button on the control panel will start flashing: Once it remains constant, you can begin printing. This should only take around one to two minutes after you’ve replaced the cartridges. 

Troubleshooting Potential Issues 

A printer is essential for every home office, so it can be helpful to know essential troubleshooting tips to keep your printer in tip-top shape. 

Ink cartridge leak

Inkjet printers effectively produce high-quality documents and multi-colored, clear-cut photographs. Occasionally, however, you’ll run into an accidental ink spill that can blot up your paper or spill on your floor. 

Ink cartridge leaks can be caused within the printer if there is a malfunction with the printing process. Ink leaks can also be caused by shaking the new, unused cartridge when it is out of its protective packaging and before you insert it into the printer. Be careful not to do this. 

It’s also best to minimize the time between taking out the old cartridge and replacing it with a new, unpacked one. If it’s left out too long, the print head on the new cartridge runs the risk of drying out.

If there’s an unwanted ink spill on one of your documents, there are some methods to remove ink from paper. Cotton balls can be used to clear up smaller ink blots and spills, while razor blades and light corrective liquid can be used to remove more substantial spillage. 

ink spilled on surface

Ink getting on your skin

Ink can irritate your skin and make you unwell if you drink it. If an ink cartridge spills and comes into contact with your skin, use soap and water or rubbing alcohol to remove it.  

If you spill ink in your eye, it’s best to rinse it immediately with cool water. Then, clean your eye with a saline solution. 

If you happen to ingest or drink any of the ink, contact your doctor or another medical professional immediately to ask for advice. 

Incorrect ink cartridge installation 

In the Epson inkjet, the ink drop button in the center of the control panel on the front of the printer will light up if your ink cartridge has not been installed correctly. 

If the power button continues to flash after several minutes rather than becoming constant, this is a sign of improper installation. 

If this happens, press the red STOP button on the control panel and re-open the scan lid. Then, press down lightly on the new ink cartridge until you hear a clicking sound as it fits properly into place. Repeat the process outlined in Step 5 to try to insert the new ink cartridge properly. 

Poor print quality 

Poor print quality can present as white lines through the line of text. This typically occurs when the print head nozzles on the cartridges get clogged up and don’t distribute ink properly. 

If this happens, don’t immediately jump to replacing the print nozzle. Instead, try cleaning it first. Dip a cotton ball in some rubbing alcohol to gently clean the nozzle, being careful not to touch it with your hands. The alcohol should dissipate the clogged bulk of ink so the print head nozzle can work smoothly again.

replacing print cartridges

If you have an older model of inkjet printer, print quality issues can be caused by the print head ribbon breaking away slightly from the print head. This ribbon is a grayish cord that rests between the back of the print head and the printer’s system board. Make sure it is correctly attached to the print head. 

Finally, interrupted communication between your computer and printer can cause print quality issues. Turn all your systems off, check that all your cables are plugged in tightly and correctly, and then turn your systems back on to troubleshoot this problem. 

If none of these methods work, try replacing the print head and the ink cartridge, which may improve the print quality. 

In Sum

Inkjet printers are well-known for producing high-quality images and typographic print, as well as clean-looking documents.

By following the step-by-step instructions above, you should be able to remove old cartridges and replace them with new ones whenever the need arises. Following these steps, you’ll be able to do this properly and safely.