From time to time I have to print documents. Even though he owns a tablet, smartphone and desktop computer, it is sometimes necessary to have material in print.

It might be signing contracts (which are then sadly digitized in a scanner and email!) or billing, but I’d rather not have to rely on my printer. The reason is largely price — ink is an expensive but necessary burden for most printer owners.

Even though things are getting better (some printer manufacturers have drastically reduced the cost of ink), as far as owners of many sub-$100 printers are concerned, the price of ink is strikingly close to the price of a printer. This highlights the manufacturer’s attitude towards devices — that they are consumables, the life of which is only a couple of years before replacement.

However, for most of us, replacing any piece of equipment every few years is an unnecessary distraction, no matter the cost. The most important thing is to squeeze as much performance out of the device as possible, and in the case of printers, ink!

There are several ways you can get your printer to share a little more ink with you — especially when you have a large document that needs to be printed.

Toner cartridges for laser printers

Not all printers are the same. A quick look at the catalogs of major printer manufacturers will reveal expensive laser printers and cheaper inkjet devices. Each uses different methods to apply ink to paper, and as a result, different types of ink are required.

get more ink from the ink cartridge

Most types of laser printer cartridges are filled with dry ink thin enough to be electrostatically attracted to paper during printing (due to the thin nature of the toner, it is potentially hazardous if inhaled).

When a toner cartridge is clearly low, you can often get a few more pages of standard text by giving it a good shake. Dust-like ink settles in the printer over time, and by shaking the cartridge, you break and settle, allowing the cartridge to eject the toner as needed.

Oh, and the next time you put a new cartridge in your printer, shake it first!

Use Hair dryer on your ink cartridges!

As surprising as it may seem, a regular household hair dryer can be used to squeeze a little more ink out of your inkjet cartridges.

get more ink from the cartridge

Whenever you get a notice that the ink is out or low, or that the paper output is streaked, faded (or even missing), you should consider this method as a means of squeezing out enough ink to finish the document — or at least On the page.

Do this by removing the cartridge from the printer and identifying where the ink exits (this is easy to recognize by the appearance of the colored spots and what appears to be a printed circuit on the adhesive tape). This is where you should heat up with a hair dryer for 2-3 minutes to clear any blockages in the tiny nozzles of the cartridge.

When you’re done, replace the cartridge in your printer and continue with your document — you should now see a much better print!

Managing your printer’s ink

Printers will tell you to replace ink cartridges with a blinking lamp, desktop notification, or both. However, it is important to ignore them if you want to get more ink out of a cartridge. Instead, keep using the cartridge until you see a noticeable deterioration in product quality. Using the recommendations above, you will be able to use the cartridge even more, even after that.

There are other ways to make sure your printer uses as little ink as possible for print jobs, thereby extending its lifespan.

get more ink from the cartridge

I’m a firm believer in using draft mode when printing, partly because of the speed, but also because it uses far less ink. Setting the correct printer settings for low ink use is relatively simple and requires you to open the printer settings and select draft mode before printing.

get more ink from the ink cartridge

I also make sure the text is printed in black ink, which can be done by opening your printer’s properties (although this varies from printer to printer).


As eco-friendly and economical as it is to compress your printer’s ink down to the last particle, you will eventually have to admit defeat and buy a new cartridge. No amount of hair dryer action and shaking will make your cartridge become a bottomless ink pit!

However, the jury has not yet decided on the advantages of refill kits and cartridges from other manufacturers. However, in my experience, no cartridge is perfect, and refill kits vary by device. If your printer is still under warranty, it’s best to use an approved manufacturer’s ink cartridge in case your device leaks.

Finally, Tina’s article on how to extend the life of ink and toner ink and extend their ink life and extend is an excellent resource explaining the benefits of using fonts specifically designed for minimalist printing and avoiding printing until the document has been evaluated and ink usage has been predicted.

This is an exciting thing — but could we go further? Do you have any tips for compressing/preserving ink?

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