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Keeping Ink Cartridges from Drying Out

Allan from Auburn, WA writes:

I don’t use my printer all that often, less than a half dozen times a month if that. I was wondering if it’s better to leave it turned off since it sits idle so much and then just turn it on when I need to use it. Or would I be better off printing something, even a test page of some sorts, at least once a week to keep the ink from drying up?

Hello Allan,

Any inkjet printer is not happy being idle for long periods of time. That will cause the cartridge to dry out. It can happen in as short as 3-4 weeks. It is not a bad idea to print out something once a week, but if you have a color printer, you would want to make sure it is also printing something with color. It is not a bad idea to turn the printer off and on occasionally, as most printers will run a cleaning and prep cycle that could keep the ink from drying out. A suggestion on that would be every time you do restart your computer, go ahead and restart your printer.

An alternative if you use your printer infrequently is to look for a laser printer. They are more expensive, but their ink will not dry out. Inkjet cartridges are liquid, and when exposed to air does what any liquid does. A laser printer uses powder, not liquid, so it won’t dry out no matter how long you leave it idle. As stated, though, they are much more expensive.