How to Replace a Toner Cartridge in a Laser Printer

printer in office

Source: FabrikaSimf/

Printers are critical pieces of equipment for your home or office, and the most popular printer used by businesses is the laser printer. The biggest advantage of using a laser printer is that they use toner instead of ink. 

Laser printer toner is an electrostatically charged powder made from granulated plastics. Laser printers are equipped with a metal drum that releases toner. The laser creates an electrostatic pattern within this drum. This pattern is then embedded into the paper’s surface as it passes over the drum. 

Although the cartridges are more expensive to purchase, toner is ideal for high-volume print jobs due to its low cost per page and higher page yield per cartridge. It also offers outstanding image quality, making it ideal for printing brochures and other company publications. While toner cartridges tend to last longer than ink, eventually you will need to replace the cartridge, and it is vital that you know the correct technique to avoid damaging your laser printer. 

Signs Your Toner Needs to Be Replaced

Despite the numerous benefits of using a laser printer, sooner or later you will run out of toner. Here are two of the most common signs to indicate when you need to change your toner cartridge. 

Faded print quality

Faded print marks, streaks and muted colors are common signs that a toner cartridge needs changing. When this happens, go to your Printer Properties on the Control Panel of your computer. There you should find exactly how high your toner levels are. 

Low ink message

Many modern printers give you a direct message that your toner levels are low. This may be in the form of flashing red lights or icons on your printer. Or, a pop-up message may appear on your computer screen. 

A view of the printer ink aisle at a local department store

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How to Replace Your Toner Cartridge

If your toner levels are running low, it is important to understand how to replace your toner cartridges to avoid damaging the delicate internal components. 

Step 1: Purchase compatible toner cartridges.

There is a wide range of cartridges available. Brands such as HP toner, Canon toner and Brother toner are highly popular. Note your printer brand and model and use this information when you are shopping for compatible toner cartridges.  

Step 2: Locate and lift the printer cover. 

Once you have purchased the right laser printer toner cartridge, it is time to replace the old cartridge. First, you need to open the printer. All laser printers feature a cover lid. The lid gives you access to the interior of the printer. Most of the time, you can find it on the top or front of the printer housing, depending on the printer model. 

Inside the housing, you’ll find either a tab or handle that allows you to open the printer. Then open the lid and make sure it is locked into place so that it does not fall back down again while you are changing the toner cartridge. 

Step 3: Remove the old cartridge.

You will then find a small handle located in the interior of the printer. This is the handle connected to the toner drum assembly, which contains the depleted cartridge. Once you locate this, gently pull on it until the drum slips out of the printer. Remove the cartridge by pressing on the release lever on the side of the drum assembly. 

Step 4: Safely dispose of the old cartridge.

Once the old cartridge is out, seal it safely within a plastic bag. This step is important because it is quite common for old toner cartridges to leak toner.

Step 5: Prepare the new cartridge.

Remove the new ink cartridge from its packaging. But before inserting the new cartridge into the printer, inspect the new cartridge for any safety tabs or covers attached to it. Many high-quality toner cartridges, such as HP toner cartridges, come with protective tabs and covers to prevent the imaging drum from getting damaged. 

If you find any protective tabs or covers, remove and dispose of them. Once these have been removed, make sure that you do not touch the imaging drum on the base of the toner cartridge. If this gets damaged, it can result in poor digital connections, smudges and other problems. Additionally, before inserting the new cartridge, shake it gently to distribute the toner evenly.  

Stack of laser printer CMYK toners

Source: cigdem/

Step 6: Insert the new cartridge. 

Place the new toner cartridge back into the printer. Push the cartridge in by the handle until you hear a click. Then close the cover gently. Now, the printer is freshly reloaded with a new toner cartridge and is ready to use. 

Step 7: Test the new cartridge. 

Ensure you have followed all the steps correctly by printing a test page. If you are still receiving messages from your printer that toner levels are low, then the new toner cartridge has not been inserted correctly or it is incompatible with that printer. If the toner cartridge has successfully been replaced and the test page still has faded print or streak marks, this could mean that the printer may need to be replaced. 

Practice Makes Perfect

Changing a toner cartridge may seem as simple as pushing a new cartridge into the printer. However, it is important to take the right steps to ensure that you get the most out of your printer and avoid damage. offers the widest selection of high-quality toner cartridges from a range of trusted brands, including Epson, Brother, Canon and HP. Explore our online store or contact us for information about bulk orders.