We Know: All About How To Buy Printer Cartridges

How Can I Tell Which Printer Cartridge to Buy?

Printer cartridges are always unique to your printer. When you first buy your printer, be certain to write down somewhere the exact inventory number of your printer cartridges and take it to the store with you when you go to buy refills.

Shopping online for printer cartridges is often cheaper than purchasing them from the store, but be careful. If you're paying for new cartridges, make sure they are new and not refurbished. Also be aware of where the company you're buying them from is located. Some southeast Asian companies deal with a lot of counterfeiting, and the quality on a counterfeit or off-brand cartridge can be uneven.

Can I Make Cartridges Last Longer?

Printer cartridges have a definite lifespan; if you leave them in the printer for too long, they'll dry out. Your best bet is to never install them until you're ready to use them, and then keep the printer somewhere cool and dust-free, where the humidity level is not too low.

Never take your cartridge out in an attempt to preserve it; this will actually shorten the life of the printer cartridge.

Are Used Printer Cartridges Any Good?

Office Max has a program to buy back used printer cartridges which they then refurbish. Refurbished cartridges can be acceptable, and for certain brands, particularly laser cartridges and black-ink-only inkjet printers, refilled cartridges often even last longer.

Your best bet is to try one. Do this the first time at a retail store where they guarantee the quality of the cartridge. A leaky cartridge (one of the dangers of refurbished inkjet cartridges) may not only be of substandard quality, but can even damage or destroy your printer. If you have no problems with a used cartridge the first time or two you use them, you can probably continue using them with impunity.

How About Printer Cartridge Refill Kits?

Printer cartridge refill kits for inkjet printers look like such a great deal -- five refills for seventeen dollars, when a single refurbished cartridge costs more than that! But you should use caution. Some inkjet cartridges work on a vacuum principle, and they are almost impossible to refill without special equipment. If your refill process involves drilling a hole in your cartridge, not only should you not refill the cartridge, you shouldn't use refilled cartridges in the printer at all. These refills have a tendency to leak, and eventually you're going to find the one that does.

If you have a simpler refill process, though, go ahead and try it, particularly if you've had good luck with refurbished cartridges in the past; just follow the instructions to the letter. Using refill kits can save you tons of money -- if they work.

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