It’s More Expensive Than Blood: How To Squeeze More Ink Out Of Your Printer

Christian Cawley 07-12-2012

get more ink from ink cartridgeFrom time to time, I find myself having to print documents. Despite being the owner of a tablet, a smartphone and a desktop computer, sometimes having material in print is necessary.


It might be to sign contracts (which are then frustratingly re-digitised in a scanner and emailed!) or to issue an invoice, but I’d much rather that I didn’t have to rely on my printer. The reason is largely one of cost – ink is an expensive but necessary burden for most printer owners.

Although things are getting better (some printer manufacturers have radically reduced the cost of ink) as far as the owners of many sub-$100 printers are concerned, the price of ink is staggeringly close to the price of the printer. This underlines the manufacturers’ attitude to the devices – that they’re consumables, intended to last just a couple of years before being replaced.

For most of us, however, replacing any hardware every couple of years is an unnecessary distraction, regardless of the price. Most important is squeezing as much performance out of the device as possible – and in the case of printers – ink!

There are several ways in which you can force your printer into sharing a bit more ink with you – particularly when you have a large document that needs printing.

Laser Printer Toner Cartridges

Not all printers are the same. A quick glance at the catalogues of major printer manufacturers will reveal expensive laser printers and cheaper inkjet devices. Different techniques are used by each to get the ink onto the paper, and as a result different types of ink are required.


get more ink from ink cartridge

Most types of laser printer toner cartridges are full of a dry ink, fine enough to be electrostatically attracted to the paper during printer (the refined nature of the toner makes it potentially dangerous if inhaled).

When a toner cartridge has apparently run out, you can often get several more pages of standard text from it by giving it a good shake. The dust-like ink settles over time in the printer, and by shaking the cartridge you break up and settling, enabling the cartridge to eject the toner as required.

Oh, and next time you put a new cartridge in your printer, shake it first!


Use a Hairdryer on Your Ink Cartridges!

As amazing as it might seem, the common household hairdryer can be used to squeeze a little more ink out of your inkjet cartridges.

get more ink out of your ink cartridge

Whenever you receive a notification that ink has run out or is low, or that output to the paper is stripy, pale (or even non-existent) you should consider this method as a means of squeezing out enough ink to finish the document – or at least the page.

Do this by removing the cartridge from the printer and identifying the spot where the ink comes out (easily recognised by the sight of coloured patches and what appears to be a circuit printed on adhesive tape). It is this spot that you should heat with your hairdryer for 2 to 3 minutes, the aim being to clear any blockages in the tiny nozzles of the cartridge.


When done, replace the cartridge in your printer and continue the document – you should now see much better print!

Managing Your Printer Ink

Printers will inform you when ink cartridges need replacing, either with a flashing light, a desktop notification, or both. However, it is important that you ignore these if you want to get the most ink out of the cartridge. Instead, continue using the cartridge until you see a noticeable degradation in the quality of the output. Using the suggestions above you should be able to get even more use from the cartridge even after this.

There are other ways to make sure your printer uses as little ink as possible for print jobs, thereby making it last longer.

get more ink out of your ink cartridge


I’m a big believer in making use of draft mode when printing, partially due to speed but also because it uses far less ink. Configuring the right printer settings for low ink use is relatively easy, and requires that you open the printer settings and select the draft mode before printing.

get more ink from ink cartridge

I also make sure that text is printed in black ink, something that can be done by opening your printer properties (although this changes from printer to printer).


As ecological and economic as squeezing printer ink down to the last particle might be, eventually you will have to admit defeat and buy a new cartridge. No amount of hairdryer action and shaking will force your print cartridge to become a bottomless pit of ink!

However, the jury remains undecided on the benefits of refill kits and non-manufacturer cartridges. In my experience, no cartridge is perfect, however, and refill kits differ from device to device. If your printer is still in warranty, using an approved manufacturer ink cartridge is safest, just in case the device leaks.

Finally, Tina’s article on making printer ink and toner last longer How To Save Printer Ink & Make It Last Longer Read More is an excellent resource, explaining the advantages of using fonts specifically designed for minimalistic printing and avoiding printing until the document has been assessed and ink use projected.

It’s fascinating stuff – but could we go further? Do you have any printer ink squeezing/saving tips?

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  1. aadila
    January 23, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    "Buy hp deskjet 2050 ink cartridge 122 online because this cartridge is compatible with most of the printer.
    Thank you for sharing, keep bringing more!!"

    Bookmarked this page for future references.

  2. Luciana
    April 4, 2016 at 12:01 am

    Thank you soooo much for the hair dryer tip.
    I printed a Word document that was 2 pages long, all text in black font. Document was printed perfectly normal. After I printed that document, I opened another one in order to print it and boom!!!! Out of nowhere my printer said I had low/no ink and I could print anything! My printer was just frozen and wouldn't let me print anything because I supposedly had no ink whatsoever. I thought it was wierd since the last document was printed in awesome quality (not blury and the black was super dark). So... I googled my issue, found your article, did the hair dryer tip and voilá! I was able to print a document that was 20! yes, 20!!!! pages long in awesome quality.
    You saved my life. It is Sunday and all stores nearby are closed. My only option was a 30 minute car drive to the shopping mall. Thankfully it wasn't necessary. Btw my printer is an all-in-one HP Inkjet.

  3. harley bellwood
    March 2, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    I have 3 printers, all connected to various computers, all 3 are either out or just about out of ink. I tried to print 1 simple black text page the other day. Just about drove me crazy.

  4. Anon
    December 14, 2012 at 4:51 am

    I use refillable ink cartridges. I think they're a better deal. But what do I know? Also, Office Max now has stations where some cartridges can be refilled.

  5. himagain
    December 13, 2012 at 3:22 am

    I object to the waste when you mainly use black ink - especially with bigger black ink containers and the Printer program insists that you change other colours.
    You can find out how to do it for any inkjet via Google - but basically you simply tape over the register window on the ink cartridges.

  6. Khawla
    December 12, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    Nice tips even though I think my printer's (HP Photosmart C4700 ) ink isn't that expensive from where I live (About 30$).

  7. Malcolm Johnson
    December 12, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    My son lives in Thailand where most printers for sale in computer stores come already adapted with separate ink tanks. He has used these for several years and all you need to replace is the ink bought in 200ml bottles. In the UK, these systems are now available to adapt existing printers so I've invested in one for myself. Search the internet for CISS (continuous ink supply systems). For the price of a couple of sets of HP cartridges, I have a system that should last me for years rather than weeks. Thereafter the price of the ink brings the costs way below £1 per cartridge.

    (I bought mine from - free advice and speedy service. I have no connection with them!!)

  8. Anandu B Ajith
    December 12, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    Reuse Reduce And Recycle

  9. Naval Gupta
    December 10, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    Thanks for the wonderful tips.

  10. dlfs
    December 10, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Can anyone figure out how to reset used inkjet cartridge smartchips? My MacBook will not print anything to my HP Office Jet because the printer says it's out of yellow. I can print from other pc's and my andriod phone, but not from the Mac. The world needs to know how to reset these confounded smartchips! Anyone smart enough to figure it out and provide a "how to"?

    (And, it would be nice to once again know how much ink is left without having to pay top dollar for the info.)

    • Christian Cawley
      December 12, 2012 at 11:33 pm

      I believe there is no single way of doing this, and that there may be issues with printer warranties if you attempt it - might not be all that wise...

  11. Anonymous
    December 10, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Great one! Ink is a killer on the wallet. Thanks.

  12. Arxadius Stark
    December 10, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Hopefully my local computer supplies store doesn't read about this, or they'll increase the price of cartridges more! XD

  13. Douglas Mutay
    December 10, 2012 at 10:37 am

    ink are more expensive than our blood...what a shame...and it's true!

  14. Vinh
    December 9, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    I'm so glad I switched to laser a few years back. It saved me so much money from buying ink. Although I don't print in color anymore, monochrome laser is so much faster and doesn't smear when highlighting. Replacing toner with third-party toner is quite easy too on my Canon 104 toner.

  15. Anandu B Ajith
    December 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Try Shaking The Toner For Ink

  16. Kathleen Wright
    December 9, 2012 at 7:17 am

    Print only when you absloutely have to. For Windows find a Print to PDF program, in Mac it's built-in (I'm a Mac user).

  17. Junil Maharjan
    December 9, 2012 at 4:35 am

    We have used method like dipping the inkjet cartridge on hot water in absence of a dryer and the shaking method on the laser cartridge indeed works great.

  18. Ron Lister
    December 9, 2012 at 2:48 am

    Been using Draft mode and Black and White only for many years now, can't even remember when we bought the last color cartridge, which incidentally won't allow black and white printing when the color cartridge is empty, clearly the printer industry intends to makes its money on ink and not so much on the hardware, at least for the sub $100.00 printers. And you gotta' love those smartchips that count print jobs, I swear there has to be more ink in there but the chip says no and you can't argue with a chip.

  19. Irshaad Abdool
    December 9, 2012 at 2:16 am

    To reduce costs, use printers with CISS (Continuous Ink Supply System)

  20. Márcio Guerra
    December 9, 2012 at 1:59 am

    Very nice tips! Going to share, of course! Keep them coming!


  21. Adriel Tan
    December 9, 2012 at 1:53 am

    Sigh, Ink is so expensive! I use refillable ink, and its quality is decent enough for photo prints... Though i tried a few others before and they all were terrible.

  22. gomer
    December 8, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    how would i be able to make my printer carts to accept my blood so i can print with my blood? or would it dry up too fast?

  23. Antonio Iacobone
    December 8, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    Last time I bought all cartridges for my Canon I spent over 70 euros! sigh! But they last 6 months for my moderate use. Inks are really expensive! I always try to print in draft you know on new canon printers like my Canon iP4950 can cartridges be refilled or they damage the printer?

  24. Alexander
    December 8, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Smart tricks :)

  25. Adam Campbell
    December 8, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    very helpful, thanks

  26. David Commini
    December 8, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    Good tips, especially for my wife who works as an office assistant.

  27. Anonymous
    December 8, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    I use a program called PretonSaver.It noticeably extends the life of my cartridges.

  28. Mac Witty
    December 8, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Using a color laser printer where it is more expensive to buy new color toner and the printer stop work when any container is empty. No black print if eg yellow is empty. Then even if it is just plain text in "black" - it use colors to print it if in color mode. That is why I have put "Print in black" as standard. I can buy another black toner but I'll not spend money on color toners

  29. Rui Pedro Lopes
    December 8, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Its saving ink time!

  30. Dave
    December 8, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    I would agree that the cost of printer ink is astronomical, way out of proportion to its actual worth and it's my opinion that an awful lot of snake oil is emitted from printer companies, extolling the "virtues" of their own-brand ink and threatening all sorts of nasties that might happen to your printer if you don't use their product. It shows just how much manufacturers are making from this black gold by the fact that a well-known specialist on-line retailer in the UK, where I am, is "selling" printers absolutely free, provided you stock up with their own brand consumables! Not cheap, though. See:
    and the strip down the left-hand side of the page.
    I don't print a lot but I have a program called Inksaver:
    which is not expensive and reduces the amount of ink you use (as you might expect!). Mine is actually an older freebie version, given away (if I remember correctly) with a purchased Serif program but it works perfectly on my elderly Epson printer. For non-critical printing, it saves an awful lot of ink.

  31. Din One
    December 8, 2012 at 11:23 am

    yes ink is very expensive, i usually choose to print at shop...

  32. Giggity Goebbels
    December 8, 2012 at 7:03 am

    I did this and it works,though still faint,but can use

  33. Erin
    December 8, 2012 at 3:37 am

    A good way to reduce the cost of ink is to use re-manufactured cartridges. There are companies that refill and reset genuine manufacturer cartridges, and because they are re-man, they can save you upwards of 50%. Metro Cartridge even fills many HP cartridges up twice as much as HP does to help consumers save. They ship for free and have online ordering with a 100% guarantee that most other online retailers of ink dont.

  34. Dan
    December 8, 2012 at 12:39 am

    Yeah, draft mode should be standard on all print jobs. I've been using it since my first printer, an epson dot matrix.

  35. P R
    December 7, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    I gave up trying to get a few extra pages out of my toner cartridge after spraying black toner all over the inside of my printer after giving it a few too many shakes. After it starts to streak, I take it out and recycle it at Staples. But I do make sure to buy replacement cartridges on Amazon, where I get it as low as $10, compared to the list price of an OEM HP cartridge ($70).