How to Properly Store Your Inkjet Cartridges

Have you ever wondered how long you can store your ink cartridges?

Periodically we get emails from customers requesting information on how they should properly store their inkjet cartridges. Generally, the fresher the cartridge — the better, but they can also be kept for a while if stored correctly

So� How long will an inkjet cartridge last if it is stored correctly?

Let’s start with new compatible inkjet cartridges. New compatible cartridges are new cartridges that are manufactured by a company other than the original equipment manufacturer (OEM).

New compatible cartridges have a shelf life of roughly 2 years because they do not have a printhead. Sealing them is rather simple and automated when produced at the factory. No printhead means no small holes to plug up. The ink stays altogether in the main chamber, which helps it from drying out.

Typically, compatible cartridges have a vacuum-sealed valve stem with a plastic membrane on the bottom. On top, the vent hole or L shaped aperture is sealed with ethylene tape that prevents any air from entering the cartridges’ sealed ink reservoir. The cartridge itself is also either sealed in plastic or vacuum sealed in polyethylene or anti-static plastic bag depending on manufacturer.

Remanufactured cartridges on the other hand typically have about a 1-year shelf life.

Remanufactured cartridges typically have a printhead attached to the cartridge body. The printhead is normally sealed using a piece of vinyl or rubbery type of tape and then covered with a protective shipping clip. While it is well sealed on one end, the topside of the cartridge has tiny vent holes that are not sealed. The vent holes are to allow air into the cartridge during use. Without them a vacuum would be created inside, preventing the ink form coming out.

The cartridge itself is sealed in an anti-static bag or plastic bag but air still exists around the cartridge so a tiny amount of air can enter the cartridges’ ink reservoir.

Another reason for a shorter shelf life may be because of the ink residing in or near the printhead.

Over time, it is possible for the ink to begin to clog the microscopic inkjet nozzles. As it becomes thicker, water evaporates due to drying. The thicker ink may begin to clog the inkjet nozzles, which in turn leads to poor printing.

There are a few rules of thumb for storing compatible and remanufactured cartridges.

  • Never store them in direct sunlight. This will shorten the life of either type of cartridge.
  • Store your ink cartridges in a dark and dry location between 40 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Store the cartridge in the upright position. This keeps the sponge moist near the print head or valve stem ensuring proper capillary ink movement when installed.
  • Finally, it’s also a good idea to keep ink cartridges away from children. It’s good to be safe and also prevent a potential disastrous mess.

When possible, try not to store cartridges too far in advance. The fresher the better.