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How To Fix Ink Cartridge That Is Dried Out?

Printers are an absolute essential in any working environment. However, just like several other electronic devices, even a printer can have issues from time to time. The ink inside the cartridge can dry out when you do not use the printer for a very long time. When this happens, the prints may appear blotchy, faded, and streaked. Generally, in such a situation any user would throw out the old cartridge and replace it with a brand new ink cartridge. This ultimately would contribute to wastage of resources and money. Instead of throwing away the dried ink cartridge, you can fix it in several ways. This guide will help you do that. All you need is a few items easily found in any household.

Reasons For The Ink Cartridges Drying Out

When you do not use your printer for a prolonged period, it leads to cartridges drying out. This happens because the ink gets stuck in the nozzle. When the ink dries up excessively, the print head gets clogged, resulting in inaccurate prints. Here are a few reasons why ink cartridges in your printer may dry out.

1. Clogging Of Printhead

When you do not clean the print heads properly, the printer ink on the top may dry out and lead to unclear prints. The newer versions of printers come with the function of auto-head cleaning. However, those who own the older versions need to clean out the print heads manually to prevent the ink from drying out.

2. Improper Storage

One of the most common reasons for cartridge ink drying out is improper storage conditions. The ink may dry out when the storage area has excessively high or low temperatures. Since the ink in the cartridges are stagnant, their temperature matters. Also, when cartridges are stored in the downright position, the ink starts settling in the cartridge’s top region, ultimately leading to streaky and unclear prints.

3. Exposure To Sun

The ink in the cartridge would dry up really quickly if you expose it to the sun. This happens because the UV rays from the sun causes the ink to evaporate. This results in a poor-quality print. When you buy ink cartridges, you must ensure you do not leave it for a prolonged period in a sunny area.

4. Occasional Printing

When you use your printer infrequently, the ink in the cartridge will dry up. Irregular usage of the printer is another common cause for the cartridges drying out.

5. Expired Ink Cartridge

Not many people know that the cartridges do have an expiration date. Your ink cartridge may have expired, which may be the reason beyond the ink drying up. Many ink cartridge makers do not mention an expiry date for the product. However, replacing your ink cartridge every 2 to 3 years is a good idea. Also, when you store the ink cartridges for over 12 months without using it, you might have to consider buying a new one.

Fixing Of An Ink Cartridge That Is Dried Out

There are two fixes for the issue of an ink cartridge drying out. You can use either of these fixes based on the type of print head your printer has. The print head is that component in your printer which dispenses ink for printing paper. Some printers have the print head built into the printer, while others have it built into the cartridge.

1. When The Cartridge Has An Inbuilt Print Head

  • Dip a paper towel in warm water to make it damp and lay it on a table or flat surface.
  • Place the cartridge with the print head facing down on the damp paper towel and tap it hard a few times.
  • Drag the cartridge on the paper towel from top to bottom a few times, you should see ink streaks on the paper towel.


  • Put warm water in a small container and get a paper towel.
  • Place the cartridge downward into the warm water bath for a few seconds.
  • Now drag the cartridge on the paper towel from top to bottom a few times till you see the ink on it.

2. When The Cartridge Does Not Have An Inbuilt Print Head

  • Run your printer’s auto print head cleaning function to release the dried-up ink.
  • Run this function for about 3 to 4 times.
  • You can find the exact steps to do this in the instruction manual for your specific printer.

How To Prevent Ink Drying In A Printer?

Although the above fixes can help you out if the ink in your cartridge has dried out, there are several ways in which you can avoid such a situation. Here are a few ways to prevent the ink from drying out in your printer.

1. Use Printer Frequently

The nozzle can get clogged up with residual ink when you do not use your printer for a long time. To avoid this, you must print something at least once every week. This will keep the ink flowing freely from the nozzle and it won’t dry up.

2. Store It Properly

When storing the ink cartridges, ensure that it is stored in an upright position. When you put it in any other position while storing, the ink will travel to one side, causing issues when you put it in your printer to start printing. Store the cartridges in a dry and dark place at room temperature.

3. Keep It Sealed

You need to keep your cartridges sealed otherwise, the ink will easily dry up from an open cartridge.

4. Get A Good Quality Ink Cartridge

When buying cartridges, ensure that you are not compromising on the quality just to get the cartridge cheaply. Research a little and buy a high-quality cartridge to avoid issues like ink drying up in the future.

5. Buy Laser Printer

If you are someone who does not use a printer often, invest in a good laser printer. Inkjet printers cause dried up ink cartridges when not used for a long time. However, this issue does not crop up in a laser printer since it uses powder ink which does not dry up.

Ink Cartridges – FAQs

1. Can using a dried-out ink cartridge damage my printer?

Ans: When you use a dried-out ink cartridge, the print quality will deteriorate. The printer’s nozzles may also get clogged up, damaging your printer in the long run.

2. How do I know if my ink cartridge is empty or dry?

Ans: You can find this out by selecting the ink management key and looking for the ink volume option. You can check the ink status from a computer by exploring the Status Monitor Utility. Another shortcut to check the ink color levels is by double-clicking the printer icon from the taskbar.

3. How long does it take ink cartridges to dry out?

Ans: Leaving an ink cartridge unattended and unused will start drying up as early as a few weeks. Use your printer regularly to avoid the ink from drying up. When storing an ink cartridge, ensure it is moist and not under direct sunlight.

4. Do ink cartridges dry out if not used?

Ans: Yes, the ink cartridges dry out if not used. When you buy a good quality ink cartridge from a reputable supplier and store it correctly, it can stay good for over 12 months.


Now you know how to avoid and fix dried-up ink cartridges. Dried ink cartridges can be a nuisance since they reduce the print quality drastically, and you end up with streaky and blotchy prints. Using the methods described above, you can easily overcome such an issue quickly. A good ink cartridge is essential to avoid clogged and dried-up ink.

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