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How to Refill Your Ink Cartridges

how to refill your own ink cartridges at homePrinters cost less than ever these days but the price of brand name inkjet cartridges can be very high. For this reason many people have started to use ink cartridge refills rather than buying new brand name cartridges. Most generic or refilled ink cartridges cost about half the cost of a manufacturer's ink cartridge. Generic cartridges last as long as brand new ones and deliver the same great results for a fraction of the price.

13 Steps to Refill Your Ink Cartridges

You can either send used ink cartridges out to be refilled, or purchase a refill kit and do it yourself. A typical refill kit can be purchased either online or at an office supply store and includes ink bottles, syringes and detailed instructions. Make sure you purchase the correct ink for your cartridge type (based on the printer make and model). If you'd prefer to see our video, just follow this link: refilling ink cartridges.

Once you have the refill kit you will also need a roll of paper towels, clear Scotch tape and some disposable rubber or plastic gloves. The refill process is as follows:

  • Read the instructions that came with the refill kit and make sure you understand them.
  • It is best to refill the ink cartridge when there is still a little ink left inside.
  • Put on the gloves and place several sheets of paper towel (folded) on a flat surface. Working over the folded paper towel, remove the ink cartridge from the printer.
  • Locate the fill holes on the top of the cartridge. The depressions can be felt by rubbing your finger across the label. Use a sharp pencil to pierce the refill holes in the top of the ink cartridge. Squeeze the cartridge to equalize the pressure.
  • Follow the kit instructions on which hole to insert each color OR push a toothpick into the holes to identify the ink colors.
  • Pour the ink into the cartridge slowly by inserting the long needle from the refill bottle into the refilling hole. Simply push the needle through the hole and press to the bottom of the cartridge towards the outlet hole. It is important to fill the cartridge slowly and avoid foaming or pushing air into the chamber.
  • Take care not to overfill the cartridge - different printers hold different amounts of ink. See the instructions with your refill kit for how much ink your cartridges can hold. Stop quickly as soon as you see a bit of ink oozing out of the hole. Without letting go of the bottle, slowly release the air, sucking a little ink back out of the ink cartridge, before you remove the needle completely.
  • Carefully daub the cartridge contacts on the paper towel. You should see a splotch of the ink leaking out onto the paper towel.
  • Cover the refill hole with a small piece of clear scotch tape. (This works better than the seal dots included in the kit.) Make sure that no ink is leaking out of the top holes. (That's where the clear tape comes in handy.) Be careful not to cross contaminate the colors.
  • Any unused ink should be put back in the bottle. Clean the syringe with water and dry it properly before filling with another ink color or for future use. If you have several syringes you can label each with a different color so that the same syringe is always used for the same color.
  • When the cartridge has been refilled, check it to make sure it is clean and will not leak into the printer. It is a good idea to blot the print head on the paper towels to make sure the color is not bleeding.
  • Once you place the cartridge back in the printer, print something right away to get the ink flowing. Print a photo with different colors or a test page to make sure every color works. Then run the cleaning cycle 1 to 3 times. If there are any gaps in the printing run the cleaning cycle again, and try removing the Scotch tape from the refill holes.
  • Some printers (like Epson) have cartridges with an indicator chip that tracks how often the cartridge is used and lets the computer know when it may be low or empty. As long as you reset the chip, refilling the cartridge with ink from a refill kit will not be a problem. A resetting tool can be used to reset the memory on the chip.

About William Elward

Founder of Castle Ink, William Elward has 20 years experience in the printer industry. He's been featured on CNN Money, Yahoo, PC World, Computer World, and other top publications and frequently blogs about printers and ink cartridges. He's an expert at diagnosing printer issues and has published guides to fixing common printer issues across the internet. A graduate of Bryant University and Columbia's Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program, he's held various leadership positions at The College Board, Bankrate, Zocdoc, and Everyday Health. Follow him on Twitter at William Elward's Twitter Profile