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Does Shaking an Ink or Toner Cartridge Really Make it Last Longer?

Maintaining a printer is a bit like driving an old used car. You’re glad that it runs and wish that somehow it would keep on working forever, but you know that the big expenses have to come eventually—it’s just a matter of time.

How Do You Get the Most Bang for Your Buck?

For printers, of course, the big cost is in ink refills. Most of us happily print away, not worrying about the ink cartridge until the day we’re in a big hurry. Of all the times, that’s usually when the ink runs out. And if you’re the one paying for replacements, you now feel the stress on two levels. First, how do you get your document printed before the meeting, and right along with that, how much is the new ink cartridge going to cost?

There are lots of different ways to cut costs on future purchases of ink cartridges, ranging from being selective about the printers you buy to refilling the cartridges yourself. But some people would also say that there is a solution to the short-term problem of getting your document printed right now. They would tell you to take out the cartridge and shake it a few times, suggesting that you be able to get a little more life out of the cartridge than you think. So does it really work?

 Of course, inkjet printers use liquid or gel ink instead of powder, and therefore it is more rare that shaking them will help. It’s still worth a try (especially if you’re desperate) and shaking the cartridge 15-20 times might help. Again, make sure that you cover the opening with a paper towel first if you want to avoid a huge mess.

Shake Your Toner Cartridge:

The answer depends, in part, on what type of cartridge you have. Toner cartridges are used in laser printers and are filled with black powder. Toner cartridges tend to last a long time, but they are also very expensive to replace. It is actually quite possible that the powder has become lodged and should be shaken loose, so feel free to shake your toner cartridge. Try removing the cartridge and shaking it 15-20 times before replacing it back in the printer. There are no guarantees, but shaking a toner cartridge can often restore some life – at least for another 20-30 pages.

Clean Your Ink Cartridge:

With inkjet printers, the more common problem is that the ink around the opening of the ink cartridge has simply dried up and could use a little moisture, so instead of shaking it you should probably clean your ink cartridge. Remove the cartridge and find the opening where the ink comes out. Gently rub a wet paper towel across the opening, moving front to back so that you don’t smear ink across the other colors. If water doesn’t work, try iso-propyl alcohol (not rubbing alcohol) and follow the same method. Of course, you should let the water or alcohol dry before replacing the cartridge back in the printer. With a few careful steps, you may be able to get a little more life out of your cartridge.

So does shaking your cartridge work? Depending on the type of cartridge and how good your luck is, it’s true that shaking might get you out of a last-minute situation and even add to your overall ink cartridge shelf life. But shaking just can’t recreate ink. If you're curious, there are ways to find out the total number of pages your ink or toner cartridge will print so you can avoid your next ink cartridge shaking fit of rage. It's great to be frugal and get the most out of every ink cartridge, but if you want to cut costs there's no better way than switching to buying discount printer ink online, which almost always runs 50%-70% cheaper than the in-store price, especially with free shipping. If you’re hoping for a solution that works every time, shaking your ink cartridge probably won’t be your answer, but it can definitely help!

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