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How to Refill Ink Cartridges Refill Printer Cartridges Yourself and Save Money

Updated on January 9, 2016
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When the light flashes on your printer duly informing you that you're out of ink, this can only mean one thing. Well, two things actually. One that you're out of ink, and two that you're going to have to spend a small fortune replacing the cartridge.

In fact, the expense incurred by replacing a tiny little plastic cartridge filled with a minuscule amount of ink is more than outrageous. Its's scandalous at best and criminal at worst.

Can ink cartridges be refilled? Well, yes. You can learn how to refill printer cartridges yourself, or opt to have them refilled. Either way, you'll be saving a small fortune and adopting a green, ecofriendly practice, too.

The cartridges themselves can be used many times over, they are manufactured using a tough plastic which is durable and hard wearing. Sending them to landfill after just one use is quite unnecessary.

What You Will Need To Refill Your Ink/Printer Cartridges.

Initially, refilling ink cartridges yourself can be somewhat fiddly until you know exactly what you're doing. After the first attempt, however, it does become much easier.

You'll need to purchase an ink refill kit. Wait, before you roll your eyes and utter the words "not more money" might I point out that a refill kit will cost at least 20% less than one cartridge of either black ink or colored. Add to the equation that the amount of ink included in one kit will refill both black and colored cartridges at least 6 times, and the world suddenly looks quite rosy. Do the maths!

There are numerous ink refill kits to choose from, however, the one illustrated is quite generic and works well with all the major brands; Lexmark, Brother, Cannon, Epson, Xerox, IBM, Olivetti and Compaq to name but a few.

You May Also Need A Chip Resetter

You'll also need to invest in a pair of latex gloves, unless you're not adverse to multi-colored hands and clothing. Depending on the make and model of your printer, you may also need to purchase a chip re-setter for the tank.

Some manufacturers use a chip which will always signal that the tank is empty, even if you have refilled the tank. Thus, the printer will not print because it's being told that there is no ink to print with.

Generally speaking, Lexmark and Epson models are more likely to contain this chip, whereas other well know models such as HP, Cannon, Dell and Brother are usually devoid of such irritating pieces of technology. However, there are exceptions, so always check first. A straight forward Google search citing your printer's make and model should reveal whether your cartridge contains a chip.

How To Refill The Ink Cartridge.

Very general step by step instructions are listed beneath.

However, you should always follow the ink manufacturers instructions for your particular cartridge type. There are a plethora of instructional videos on YouTube, like the one beneath, to assist you further with the process.

Just type in the make and model of your printer and follow the step by step guide.

Work on a flat surface and use paper towels or an old cloth to protect the surface from the ink.

  • Place the empty cartridge on a paper towel/cloth. Run your finger across the label to locate the holes (there are a different number of holes on different types of cartridges)
  • Only one of the holes will actually lead to the reservoir, and it is the one which contains sponge.
  • Use a pin or toothpick to pierce the refill hole at the top of the cartridge. (the refill kit instructions will indicate which hole)
  • Insert the syringe supplied with the kit deep inside the hole, pushing the sponge down to the bottom. Inject the ink slowly so as to avoid creating any air bubbles.
  • Stop as soon as you see any overfill. Draw a little of the ink back into the syringe and remove from the cartridge slowly.
  • Gently daub the contacts over a piece of kitchen towel. Re-cover.
  • Repeat the steps for each color of ink.
  • Ensure the cartridge is not bleeding ink and then insert back into the printer.
  • Print a test page.

How to Refill Printer Ink Cartridge

If refilling the ink cartridges yourself seems a little too surgical for your liking, you can opt to have the cartridge refilled elsewhere. Just type into Google "ink cartridge refilling" and a host of services will be presented in the results page. Whilst it is still cheaper to have the cartridge refilled by someone else than it is to buy a new one, it's not as cheap as doing the job yourself.

Share, don't copy.

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  • Randy Godwin profile image

    Randy Godwin 4 years ago from Southern Georgia

    I'll be sure and have Beth read this one too, Hollie. She went through a year's supply of ink in just a couple of months. She claims she isn't printing much but ...well...you know how women are! :p

    Seriously, a good topic and easy to follow article.

  • HollieT profile image
    Author

    HollieT 4 years ago from Manchester, United Kingdom

    Hi Randy,

    Thanks :) I first started to fill my own cartridges when my daughter was 12/13. She'd decided to photocopy lots and lots of photographs of her and her friends (enlarged to A4) and put them on her bedroom wall.

    Both cartridges were empty two days after I'd purchased them!

    I've never looked back, wouldn't dream of paying the extortionate prices.

  • Randy Godwin profile image

    Randy Godwin 4 years ago from Southern Georgia

    You are right, my printer came with the free cartridges which aren't full to begin with. Just the large cartridge cost $50, not to mention having to a buy another pack of colored ink for almost that much. I think I paid $20 for enough to fill them at least a half dozen times. At least the way Beth fills them.....

  • HollieT profile image
    Author

    HollieT 4 years ago from Manchester, United Kingdom

    Randy, if they have chip in them it also ensures that they flash on empty even when there's ink in them. It's a bit of a scam! Poor Beth, she's getting the blame for everything today. lol.

  • Randy Godwin profile image

    Randy Godwin 4 years ago from Southern Georgia

    That's why I married her, Hollie. It's easy to convince her things are always her fault. At least it used to be. She's grown wise to my ways over the years. :(

  • HollieT profile image
    Author

    HollieT 4 years ago from Manchester, United Kingdom

    I bet she has! And she ever reads your comments here you're in for a hiding, I expect. .lol.

  • Randy Godwin profile image

    Randy Godwin 4 years ago from Southern Georgia

    No, she doesn't take me seriously anymore either. sigh!

  • HollieT profile image
    Author

    HollieT 4 years ago from Manchester, United Kingdom

    She clearly knows you very well. :)

  • DATALOAD profile image

    DATALOAD 4 years ago from Michigan

    So much money can be saved by refilling our own. Depending on the printer being used, hundreds could be saved on a yearly basis.

  • HollieT profile image
    Author

    HollieT 4 years ago from Manchester, United Kingdom

    Yes, you're absolutely right. You could probably buy a new printer twice over with the savings you can make by refilling your own cartridges.

    Thanks for commenting, Dataload.

  • aviannovice profile image

    Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

    Thanks, Lisa. This is a real winner. I love living green!

  • HollieT profile image
    Author

    HollieT 4 years ago from Manchester, United Kingdom

    Hi aviannovice,

    Thank you! I think the more people who realize the advantages of living green the better- as well as doing our bit to save the environment, there are other advantages such as saving lots of money on the products we use regularly.

    Thanks for stopping by :)

  • aviannovice profile image

    Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

    This is such a good tip, I shared it in eight different places, so you should be getting some traffic on this.

  • HollieT profile image
    Author

    HollieT 4 years ago from Manchester, United Kingdom

    Thank you very much:) I hope it saves others as much money as it has saved myself and, of course, reduces the number of reusable cartridges being sent to landfill each year.

  • paradigmsearch profile image

    Person of Interest 3 years ago from USA

    This article seems to be a hit. My blog keeps sending traffic to it. Keep up the quality. May 2014 be good for us all.

  • HollieT profile image
    Author

    HollieT 3 years ago from Manchester, United Kingdom

    It does, PDS, I've noticed that I get a fair few hits from your blog :) I hope 2014 is good for us, and great riches wouldn't be shunned either. :D

  • paradigmsearch profile image

    Person of Interest 3 years ago from USA

    I am still having unhappy feelings re: adobe draining my color cartridge. Long memory, me. $20 that cost me?

  • HollieT profile image
    Author

    HollieT 3 years ago from Manchester, United Kingdom

    Have you started to fill the cartridges yourself yet?

  • paradigmsearch profile image

    Person of Interest 3 years ago from USA

    Not yet. Probably will happen sometime in 2014 though.

  • jtrader profile image

    jtrader 3 years ago

    It's becoming easier than ever to do this and it really does cut costs. Thanks for sharing.

  • HollieT profile image
    Author

    HollieT 3 years ago from Manchester, United Kingdom

    Hi jtrader,

    You're right, it is becoming easier and there's certainly some money to be saved. Thanks for commenting.

  • Rochelle Frank profile image

    Rochelle Frank 2 years ago from California Gold Country

    I'm sharing this-- and printing it out ... lol.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile image

    Liz Elias 2 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Oh, yay! I so needed this article! My printer supposedly has the "lowest price cartridges," and it does--until you take into account how small they are, and how much more often they need replacing!

    On our budget, I am sometimes without the printer/copier for a month or more once I run out of ink.

    Voted up +++ shared and pinned

  • HollieT profile image
    Author

    HollieT 2 years ago from Manchester, United Kingdom

    Rochelle and DzyMsLizzy, thank you very much! May you're cartridges never run dry and, hopefully, you save lots of money :)

  • Kristen Howe profile image

    Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

    Great hub, Hollie. Since I have a laser printer that uses toner (costs $56) that lasts me, three years or so, I would love to find out if there's a way to refill your toner cartridge too. Great tips for ink jet printer owners! Voted up for useful!

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