How to Make Your Ink Last as Long as Possible

If you’re in a pinch and pinching pennies, you may have taken a good, hard look at your budget and mapped out ways to cut your electricity, water and food bills.

But there’s another money drain sitting in your house that you may not have thought of: printer ink.

Yes, printer ink is definitely expensive. So what can you do to get the most bang for your buck? Check out some of the helpful tips we’ve compiled to help you make your ink last as long as possible.

Choose Your Fonts and Formats Wisely

Not all fonts are created equal. Some require much more ink when printing because the letters are naturally wider or bolder. Some of the best fonts for preserving ink, according to a study by, include Century Gothic, Ecofont and Times New Roman, all of which resulted in about a 30 percent reduction in ink costs compared to Arial.


Another smart move is to reduce the overall font size whenever possible. Even switching from size 12 to size 11 can help reduce the amount of ink that is used without compromising on readability.

Finally, change the color of your font to a different color, such as grey. In order to find that “sweet spot” in color, experiment with how light you can make the font before it becomes difficult to read. However, even changing from black to the darkest grey will take away some of the pigment necessary for printing, thus saving you ink and money. Don’t forget to change the color scale on images, too.

Shake it Up!

What do you do when your ink pen stops working? Most people give it a vigorous shake to move the ink further down. The same concept applies to printer ink cartridges. If your computer is prompting you to replace the ink cartridge, give it a good shake and see if that placates your computer alert for just a little while longer.

Another way to make use of every last drop of ink is to use a hairdryer to soften up any ink that may have hardened in the cartridge’s pores. The dry, hard ink can form when a printer isn’t used very often, and the buildup can reduce the flow of ink and trick the computer into thinking that there’s not much ink left in the cartridge. But removing the cartridge and holding a hairdryer about a foot away for a couple of minutes can provide just enough heat to soften up the hardened ink and get things running again. An alternative is to simply wipe away the buildup, but if you are already running pretty much on empty, the hairdryer method will preserve that hardened ink and make it usable again.

Don’t Replace the Cartridge Right Away

Computers are quite sophisticated, so surely they know when the cartridge is truly empty, right? Wrong! You’ve probably been in the habit of trusting the little alert that pops up on your computer, warning you to replace the cartridge. Resist the urge to immediately yank out the old cartridge and plop in a new one. If you ignore the alert and carry on printing, you’ll find that you can get a good number of pages out of it yet.

Some studies have even found that there’s still as much as 40% of the ink remaining in the cartridges when these alerts pop up, so the computers aren’t necessarily trustworthy. If in doubt, shake the cartridge and see if you can hear or feel liquid rattling around inside.

If you have a color printer, you could also try to change the color of your document to one that wouldn’t require use of the empty cartridge. Printers usually operate with 4 cartridges: black, magenta, cyan and yellow. If black is apparently, try printing your document in a color instead.

Reset the Cartridge

Unfortunately, there are some printers that are, for lack of a better word, stubborn. When the “cartridge is empty” alert flashes, these printers won’t let you ignore the alert. You won’t be able to print anything, no matter the color and no matter whether you know the cartridge still has ink. After you’ve exhausted all the other options, you can try resetting the cartridge or bypassing the computer’s alerts.

Just like other electronics, ink cartridges have a reset button. These buttons are located in different places depending on the brand, so you’ll want to look up how to perform a reset on your specific cartridge model.

Other printers are set up to flash the “replace cartridge” message when a certain number of pages have been printed or a certain date has been reached. However, it’s usually possible to override this system and turn off the alerts.