The average shelf life of a standard printer cartridge ranges between 18-24 months after manufacture. This is true for brand new ink and toner cartridges made by the original manufacturer of the printer as well as remanufactured or compatible cartridges made by third party vendors. The amount of time a cartridge can be sufficiently stored is contingent upon some other factors beyond when it was manufactured.
- If applicable, rotate the oldest cartridges to the front and the newest cartridges to the back to ensure no single cartridge stays on the shelf too long.
- Be sure to store the cartridge in a location that is cool and not overly exposed to air. If the temperature is too warm or too much air infiltrates the cartridge, the consistency of the ink or toner can be compromised, rendering it unusable.
- Ink cartridges: 40°F – 85°F.
- Toner cartridges: 32°F – 95°F (humidity no more than 85°F).
- On the same note, it is important that the storage location is dry and dark.
- Make sure each box is stored upright and avoid stacking them too high.
- Do not shake or bump the cartridges as it could loosen the shipping seal and cause a leak.
- Do not remove the cartridge from the packing it was shipped in until it is being installed. The protective bag and bubble wrap will eliminate the possibility of the cartridge being damaged while on the shelf as well as protecting it from the elements such as air and moisture.
- Though buying in bulk is recommended for optimal discounts, it is not advised to order excessively more than what the needs of the office calls for. Overbuying could force cartridges to be on the shelf for more than 2 years, which opens up the door for malfunction and most likely voids the warranty.
These are some simple steps that can be taken by the end user to ensure longevity of shelf life for toner and ink cartridges, new and refurbished. Of course, some of this responsibility lies within the manufacturer and how long the cartridges have been kept on their shelves. That is why it is important to read and understand the warranty that is offered with your cartridges.