All Dried Up! Remedies to Make Ink Printer Cartridges Usable Again

One of the most common problems faced by inkjet printer users is the drying up of the liquid ink in the printer cartridge ink tanks. Not only would this cause printer nozzle to clog up, but would allow you to print lesser amount of pages. This is because when a printer tries to clean a clogged up nozzle, it would require a substantial amount of ink to unclog this.

Why Do Ink Printer Cartridges Dry Up?

There are many causes for ink printer cartridges to dry up prematurely. Some of these reasons include:

  • Long shelf life. If you carefully examine your printer cartridge box carefully, there is an expiration date that is printed by the manufacturer. If the printer cartridge is used after this expiration date, even if it is still unopened, the ink inside the ink tank would begin to dry up.
  • Infrequent usage of printers. Once a printer cartridge is installed in a printer, it is now susceptible to outside air to seep in. Just like any liquid that is exposed to air for an extended period of time, the ink would eventually dry up. This is particularly true for the printer nozzles found in the print heads.
  • Ink Refills. When a printer cartridge is refilled with ink, openings are made on the cartridge. This, plus the fact that the ink tank is already open as a result of previous use allows more air to enter the cartridge itself.

Using Your Printer to Clear Up Clogging

When a printer unit is installed, it comes with a maintenance program which you can use to remove clogging. This is the most common and most costly method to remove dried up ink because you may be using more ink to clean up the printer, depending on how much clogging in the printer cartridge.

Making Your Dried Up Ink Cartridge Work

More often than not, there is still some usable ink inside the printer cartridge for you to use to print out text documents and images. Here are some ways for you to revive your seemingly dried up ink cartridges.

  • Print Cartridge Kits. There are a number of print cartridge cleaning kits that would allow you to remove the dried ink clogging your ink printer cartridge so that you can use them again. Just like ink refill kits, make sure that you read and follow the instructions listed carefully.
  • Warm water baths. If your printer cartridge has not yet been used, but has already passed the expiration date, you can loosen up the ink by soaking the bottom portion for a minute or two in warm water. This can only be done on printer cartridges that have a copper portion on the bottom part of the printer cartridge.

In the Futureā€¦

To prevent future printer cartridge problems from happening, here are a few simple tips:

  • Do not overstock on printer cartridges
  • Always check the expiration date of the printer cartridge before buying
  • Have ink refills done by companies that specialize in this service
  • Regularly clean your printer

23 comments to All Dried Up! Remedies to Make Ink Printer Cartridges Usable Again

  • Hi, i just find remedy blog to ink printer. nice blog and i will try this sharing.

    Thx, dnlhartman

  • [...] with dried ink to work. You can use a cotton swab moistened with rubbing alcohol to clean away the dried up ink so it can flow [...]

  • [...] contributor of Office Supplies Information & Resources. More information on the subject is at All Dried Up! Remedies To Make Ink Printer Cartridges Usable Again, and related resources can be found at How to Save Printer Ink and [...]

  • Emmanuella

    Thank you so much for thi tip, i can print now…..

  • Ben B

    Just tried the placing dried-up cartidges in a little warm water trick and it worked brilliantly. Thanks!

  • Jenny

    Thanks for the tip. I hadn’t used my printer in awhile, and the ink was all dried up. I put the bottom in warm water for just a minute, and now it prints like new again.

  • B. P. Denardo

    Using a toothpick, put a drop or two of rubbing alcohol into the nozzel of the cartridge…presto, ink flows again!

  • Margaret

    OMG IT WORKED!!!! I had a black cartridge that I got notice on was empty, but I left it in for while and it worked fine…so I left it in longer……I had enough in to last me 3-4 weeks the way I print, after printer told me to change…..I had a bunch of “empty” cartridges hanging around, so I put one in, but it was dried—-I soaked for 1-2 mins as you said it it works fine…..THANKS

  • Sherrie

    I believe the best solution to the ink problem is to buy another brand of Printer! I have bought 2 Kodak printers ( within the last 6 months)and both have failed to accept another cartridge after the original has run out. I threw the 1st one away. The second goes to the garbage tomorrow.

    I would like to print not spend days and weeks trying to trouble shoot the damn cartridges. By the way I have 6 new cartridges that are going to the garbage also, none of them work either!!!!!

  • Teresa

    I cannot find/there is no expiration date on my Kodak cartridges or the boxes they came in. I also tried soaking with no luck.
    @ Sherrie: I would NEVER throw away printers and cartridges bought within even the last year. Return them to the store for exchange, repair or refund! What, are you in the 1% ?!?!?! (I kid…)

  • This worked perfectly. Now my printer is back to normal after no use for 2 years! Thanks.

  • My online cartridge supplier asks me to open the two new color printers I purchased from them and test them. (This was after I emailed a complaint that the two black cartridges that came in the same order triggered an error message when I tried to print…”cartridge faulty or incompatible.” I’m requesting they replace all four cartridges with good ones. Before they’ll do that, he asks me to test the remaining two new cartridges. My question is this: if I open and test the two new cartridges, and if they work okay, then how do store them without their drying up? Will testing and re-storing them shorten the number of printed pages I will get once I need to use them?

  • Jimmy

    I might have printed 2 color pages with my latest $20.00 Kodak color cartridge and I’m getting “Your Color Ink is Low” messages. That’s $10.00 per page! And these cartridges have that stupid chip that keeps me from refilling it myself. I didn’t think “drying out” was an issue till I googled here.

    If I print < 2 pages a month would it be worthwhile to store the cartridges in a sandwich baggie, with water (or alcohol?) and plug 'em in when I need 'em?

  • Thank you for your help. Soaking up ink-cartridges in warm water a minute or two did it. Now it works fine.Thanks a lot. God bless you.

  • Thankks for the tips etc, great to hear that some are in similar situations maybe too and managing with it. My printer a hewlett packard model kept displaying a message to remove right ink cartridge and put back in, it was an annoying problem. mYy ink situation wasn’t resolved, i thought that i was pushing itv a bit having not used the printer tor 2 years/unable to. The putting the ink cartridage in warm water method did cvorrect the other problem though (re check right ink cartridgesd)was a real pain in the derierre so thank you!

  • eunice

    Put it in the fridge not freezer when you are not using the cartridge. It stops the drying process a bit.

  • Chris

    after trying all tips above but unsuccessful…i sucked the ink out of those damn cartridge (like a vacuum) and voila it WORKS perfectly :) just be careful not to stain your teeth.

    ps: i got a mouthwash prepared :D

  • I took the ink catridges out of the computer when they were gone and did not put the new ones in until several monthd lster. Have I ruined my printer.

    Any ideas? Thank you.

  • Chris

    I use the type of refill where you get the OEM cartridge that came with the printer, then use a refill kit that involves drilling a small hole in the top of the cartridge, and this is then used to refill. There are many types available, but the one I like and use is from DIY Smart Refilling. Anyway, having tried the usual swabs and hot water soaking, nothing was working. So I figured rather than try to suck or wash out the dried ink from outside, I would use that little hole to pressurise the cartridge from the inside – by carefully sealing my mouth over the hole and blowing (or trying to!). Naturally you can expect ink to gush out of the nozzle, so I took the precaution of having plenty of newspaper and tissue to catch it. I needed to apply quite a bit of pressure, akin to when you first start to blow up a balloon, but suddenly there was a blob of ink on the tissues, and that was it – cartridge back in the printer, worked like new ! (and this way doesn’t stain your teeth LoL !!

  • Rufine

    I have printer ink cartridges thar I haven’t used in over a year.

    Submerge them in hot, but not boiling water for about 5 minutes. You know something is happening when the ink starts to flow and colors the water.

    Repeat this process until the ink turns back into a liquid.

  • Carolyn

    Unbelievable! It really worked! Several months ago, I removed the seal from a new ink cartridge only to find that my current was not yet empty. I put the new one in a baggy and tightly sealed it. When I went to use it today it was dried up. I was just aboout ready to toss it and order a new one and then I read the information offered on this site. I soaked the bottom of the cartridge in warm water for a few minutes and then pressed it on a paper towel…… and fresh ink appeared! Thanks so much for a great tip!

  • Halie

    Dipped my old ink cartirdge in warm water for 2 minutes and it works like new again! Thanks so much!

  • Alaa

    wow! that actually worked, ran warm water on my printer cartilage and now it’s working. thank you!!!

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