Can Ink Cartridges Expire?

Can Ink Cartridges Expire?

Posted by Adrian Rigby on

Cartridges are essential components of inkjet and laser printers. They contain the ink or toner needed to produce printed documents and images.

Like most consumables, printer cartridges have an expiration date. Understanding why ink cartridges expire and what you can do to get the most out of your ink cartridges will help to save you money and ensure that your printer continues to produce high-quality prints.

Why do ink cartridges expire?

Ink cartridges are typically supplied with an expiration date, and are only covered by a warranty or guarantee until this date, for many reasons.

Over time, ink settles and can dry out or thicken within the cartridge, making it difficult to print properly. Exposure to air and heat can cause cartridges to dry up more quickly. Even if cartridges are left intact in sealed packaging, the ink will still dry out eventually.

Ink is a chemical substance which means it is prone to changes over time which can affect its quality and performance. These changes can result in printing issues such as faded prints or clogs in the printhead.

Ink cartridges are not entirely airtight, so some ink may oxidise and slowly evaporate over time. This evaporation can lead to a decrease in the volume of ink within the cartridge, affecting the number of pages it can print, and oxidisation can ruin the ink.

The components of an ink cartridge, such as the sponge, seals and electrical components, can degrade over time. This degradation can lead to leaks, poor print quality, or other malfunctions.

How to tell if an ink cartridge has expired

Manufacturers typically print the expiration or use by date on the cartridge packaging. It is important to check this date before purchasing a cartridge, when possible.

If you have cartridges without the original packaging and are unsure how old they are, here are a few signs you can look out for that may indicate that the cartridge has expired:

  • Consistently faded or streaky prints
  • Streaks or gaps in prints
  • Smudging and ink transfer issues
  • Printer error messages or low ink warnings

If you notice any of these issues, try replacing your ink cartridge with a new one that you know hasn’t expired and see if that solves the problem. If the issue remains, then the printhead may be clogged or faulty.


The computer chip on some printer cartridge does seem to go out of date.

We have noticed that on some printer cartridges they will not work after a certain time, say 6 months after the guarantee has run out. Most do work and most compatible cartridges seem fine. But please be aware some cartridges do seem to go out of date and cannot be recognised by the printer when installed.

How to maximise the lifespan of ink cartridges

Here are some tips on how you can maximise the lifespan of ink cartridges so you get the best value for money out of them.

Keep unused cartridges in their original packaging or airtight containers and away from heat to decrease exposure to air and moisture. This will help to prevent them from drying out and minimise evaporation and oxidisation.

Check the expiration or use by dates on your cartridges and make sure that you use the ones that will expire soonest first. When purchasing new cartridges, look for ones with the latest manufacturing dates to ensure maximum shelf life.

Printing often can help to keep ink flowing and prevent it from drying out and the printhead becoming clogged. If you do not print often, it is a good idea to get in the habit of printing something, even if it is just a test page, at least once every few weeks.

Lower-quality paper can absorb more ink and lead to quicker cartridge depletion. Using high-quality paper will help to ensure that you get the most out of your ink cartridges.

Recognising the signs of an expired cartridge and taking measures to prolong their lifespan can save you money and frustration in the long run.

If you have any queries about ink cartridges or are unsure which product is best for you, speak to an expert. With over 20 years of industry experience, our team at AB Cartridges will be able to find you the perfect product.

Pick up the phone and call us on 01522 683460, or email us at We offer free, unbiased advice to help you get the best products for your printing needs.

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