How to Store Your Toner Cartridges

An ongoing expense with printers and copiers are toner cartridges. Consumers are always looking for ways to get the most out of their ink.

Do experts have any recommendations on how to store toner cartridges? Believe it or not, toner cartridges do have a shelf life and how a back up cartridge is stored does matter.  

Ink professionals also have tips on how to get the most out of your printer cartridge.

Expiration Date

Contributors to widely agree that the majority of toner cartridges have a shelf life of about 18-24 months, regardless of whether it is newly manufactured or a refilled cartridge.

However, Hewlett-Packard boasts that their newly manufactured cartridges have an unlimited shelf life with no expiration date.

Despite Hewlett-Packard’s claim, their own forum support experts advise that if you have a cartridge tucked away as a back up, if it sits for too long it may perform poorly. 

This doesn’t mean that toner goes bad on the specific date mentioned in an expiration date, but manufacturers suggest that for optimum quality it is advisable to use the product before that date arrives.

There is also a difference between shelf life and usage life. The 18-24 month period takes that into account. It is best to get the toner off the shelf within one year of manufacture and put it into use. 

Although it is entirely possible that a toner cartridge can work perfectly long after the suggested use by date, manufacturers, in order to guarantee quality, set the bar according to the quality test results that establish how time affects toner cartridge performance.  

When the time threshold is met where tested cartridges consistently begin performing below brand standards, an expiration guideline is created to reflect that.


Storage Recommendations

Technology bloggers warn that toner cartridges have three enemies: moisture, heat and light.

Heat and direct sunlight will kill a cartridge, causing the toner to fuse, resulting in an inability to bond to paper.

Excessive exposure to light erases the photosensitive properties contained within the toner.  

Moisture will cause toner to become soggy, perhaps even grow mildew, making the cartridge completely unfit for use. Follow these guidelines for proper toner cartridge storage:

a.) Store in a cool, dry location.

b.) Do not leave in direct sunlight or rooms with constant, bright, artificial light.

c.) 75 degrees Fahrenheit is an ideal storage temperature.

d.) 50 percent relative humidity is an ideal storage condition.

e.) Never leave in a car for any length of time.

f.) Never store in a basement that is too cool or damp.

Toner Tips

Expected number of printed pages from a toner is analogous to the expected gas mileage of a car.

Just as many factors can affect fuel efficiency, the same can be said for toner cartridges.

We have all probably done the toner cartridge shake to get a few more pages printed. However, there is much more that can be done to extend the lifespan of your cartridge.


Here are some tips from industry experts to help you get the most out of your toner cartridge:


a.) Font selection: Limit printouts of heavy, large, bold graphics. Consider a bold, large outline if you need impressive graphics. Otherwise choose a smaller font that is eco-friendly. There are Ecofonts that can save about twenty percent of your ink when printing as compared to standard fonts. These fonts are available through free, easy downloads straight to your own computer.

b.) Don’t print unless you have to.

c.) Lighten ink shade to gray instead of default black when printing in black and white.

d.) Turn printer on and off manually. The manual buttons activate the printer to park cartridges in the proper position that protects the cartridge from drying out prematurely.

e.) Avoid electricity disruption when printing. Electrical disruptions cause the printer to perform a cleaning cycle that uses up ink unnecessarily.

f.) Always use the print preview option to double check exactly what is about to print to avoid printing mistakes.

g.) Proofread and avoid having to reprint a page because of mistakes that require correction.

h.) Only print necessary graphics. For example, if you are printing inter-office communication such as emails, much of what will print is not necessary. Better to copy and paste text only rather than print out unnecessary graphics and text.

i.) Choose “draft output” if you don’t need a high quality printout.

j.) If a printer has any “toner saver” option, use it. Smart settings have the potential of saving up to 30 percent of toner.

k.) Use software designed for “green” printing. There are free versions available online for an easy download. 

l.) When printing from online sources use an online editor option that will eliminate any ads that might print with the text you have selected. 

m.) Select printer settings that require less ink such as reducing resolution.

n.) Opt for re-manufactured toner cartridges rather than new.

o.) Try to refill your own toner cartridge with some of the do-it-yourself products available or take them to a reputable company for refill.

p.) Re-sell your old toner cartridges to a refill and re-manufacture company.

Although anyone who uses a printer will always have the ongoing expense of replacing toner cartridges, it doesn’t have to break the bank.

Proper storage and clever printing techniques can go a long way toward effective savings.