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Why does my printer cartridge run out of ink so fast?

Why does my printer cartridge run out of ink so fast?

Learn why your printer runs out of ink quickly and what you can do to keep your cartridge lasting longer.

Running out of ink in the middle of an important print job can be incredibly frustrating for any printer owner and it is easy to feel like your printer is holding a grudge every time a low ink message unexpectedly pops up on your machine.  In truth, many different factors could be the source of your printer’s low ink issue and in this short guide, we cover five that you need to know so you can get the most out of your printer cartridges.


1. Inefficient Cartridge Page Yield

Page yield is the approximate number of prints you can get from one cartridge.  Yield can vary greatly depending on the cartridge series that is compatible with your printer.  If you recently purchased a new printer and are not getting as many prints out of the machine as your previous printer, it is likely due to the page yield of your new printer cartridges.  Two similarly priced printers can use cartridges with very different yields.

The Fix: Get high yield cartridges for your printer if available or get a printer that uses cartridges that print more pages.

For example, the Brother MFC-J805 retails for less than $200 and uses Brother LC3033 ink cartridges.  The super high yield black cartridge prints 3,000 pages and each XL color cartridge prints 1,500 pages.  Alternatively, you can buy a HP Officejet Pro 8025 for about the same price with HP 910XL ink cartridges.  The black and color HP 910XL cartridges both print 825 pages.  Case in point, page yield has a direct impact on your overall print volume, making it a very important factor when you are monitoring your printer output.


2. Frequent Printer Cleanings

Proper upkeep of your printer ensures your machine and your printer cartridges are in top shape.  Most printers include built-in software that regularly performs scheduled cleanings to maintain consistent print quality, which helps prolong the life of your machine.   Your printer will often prompt you to run a printer cleaning if the printer has been inactive for an extended period of time, or you may be inclined to manually initiate a cleaning if you are experiencing spotty or light prints.  This process primes the cartridges before you print, preventing clogs and preserving your print quality so they can operate at peak performance.  After you have run a cleaning, print out a test page or diagnostic print to confirm that your print quality issue has improved.  Every time you run a cleaning on your printer, a small amount of ink is pulled from the cartridges.  Removing this ink helps get rid of air bubbles from inside the cartridges and any dried ink that might be stuck in the ink nozzles.  Running a printer cleaning is a great resource if you are looking to clear up your print quality, however, multiple cleanings in a row can slowly deplete the ink in your cartridge.

The Fix: Try to avoid running more than two cleanings in a row.  A couple of cleanings should be enough to clear up your print quality issue.  If you end up running more than that and still don’t see any improvement in print quality, it may be time to pick up a new printer cartridge.


3. Occasional Printer Use

How often you print can also influence the longevity of your printer cartridges.  Ink cartridges that have been sitting idle in your machine for more than a couple weeks will eventually dry out.  You might be able to bring them back to life by running a cleaning on your machine, but if the pattern continues, you will eventually be placing an order for a set of replacement cartridges.

The Fix: Toner cartridges or ink tank printers are a better printing solution if you print occasionally.  Since toner powder is composed of a dry, plastic like material, it won’t dry out like an ink cartridge, letting you go months in between prints without worrying about squandered ink. Ink tank printers rely on a refillable tank system and ink bottles to print, preserving the ink in a sealed tank until it is ready to be used.  Inkjet printer owners can try to preserve idle ink cartridges by removing them from the machine when they are not regularly in use.   Place the cartridge nozzle side up in a plastic airtight tub and reapply the protective tape or a clip that came with the cartridge. Keep a damp cloth or paper towel in the tub next to the cartridge and store it in a cool, dark place.  We recommend checking on the damp paper towel every once in a while to insure that it is still wet.


4. Type of Documents Printed

The type of documents you print can have a major impact as well.  If you print in mostly black, your black cartridge will naturally run out faster than the color cartridges.  However, some printers will pull a bit of ink from the color cartridges when you are printing solely in black, just to keep them primed for future use.  Color rich print jobs like photos and multi graphic documents is another quick way to deplete ink cartridges.  Knowing your cartridge page yield can help you estimate how many prints you’ll get from a particular cartridge, but keep in mind that yield is based on 5% coverage, or pages in which 5% of the page is covered with ink.  This is equivalent to printing a short paragraph or email.  For example, the HP 63XL high yield black ink cartridge has a yield of 480 pages, which means you should be able to print 480 short emails at that 5% coverage.   If you are printing something that requires more ink like a legal document or a full-page color photo, your page yield will drop significantly.  Since every ones printing habits are different, the actual number of prints you get from a cartridge changes from user to user.

The Fix: Evaluate what you print more of. If you use up more color ink, get high yield cartridges for your printer. If you print pages and pages of documents, maybe it’s time to switch to a laser printer. If it doesn’t take a lot of printing to replace cartridges, maybe it’s time to reconsider your printer; you might have gotten a cheap inkjet that uses cartridges that contain ink for only a few pages.


5. Incorrect Printer Settings

Frequently using the wrong printer setting on your machine can quietly deplete your printer cartridge.

The Fix: You can reduce your ink use by adjusting those settings and most printers have a number of them that will adjust the print quality (and the amount of ink that is dispersed on the page), depending on what you need to print.  Many let you choose between draft mode, grey scale, photo printing and others, but settings vary from printer to printer.

  • Gray scale – This setting tells your printer to only use the black printer cartridge when you print, letting you conserve those precious color cartridges for future photo prints.
  • Draft mode – Draft mode is designed to print faster with slightly less precision in order to give you draft worthy version of your document.  The quality may not be up to par compared to a regular print job, but it should suffice if you need to do a quick review.
  • Photo printing- The photo printing setting optimizes your ink cartridges for printing pictures at a high resolution, to get the best results, pair this setting with a quality sheet of photo paper.  LD Products has glossy and matte photo paper available at a great value.

Now that you know why your ink can run out so quickly, you can optimize your printer and cartridge use to best fit your printing needs.  For more tips on proper cartridge care check out other guide here.  If you are looking to save money on printing costs, check us out at LDProducts.com, our compatible printers cartridges are a great low cost alternative the name brand and are proudly backed by a lifetime guarantee.  Happy printing!


*Savings based on price comparison between remanufactured/compatible cartridge prices on www.LDProducts.com and OEM cartridge and printer prices from the listed retailers: Amazon and Staples. All prices effective as of June 23, 2022.  OEM names are registered trademarks of their respective owners and are not affiliated with, and do not endorse LD Products.

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30 Comments

  • All set and done, the printer companies are bleeding the American consumers and over charging for INK. The only option the American consumers have is to purchase OEM. Some money can be saved.

    • In Turkey the case is the same for HP printer cartridges that I use. I use a simple deskjet and always print draft A4 paper on simple paper. I cannot print more than 30 pages or maybe 40. The cartridges run out so fast. The colored one especially, I rarely use for it not to dry out and it dies so fast.

  • I have gone the mile with multi-tone inks with two different printers. Never again. There was always one going dry. I have used my Canon MP270 for many years using two cartridges only – black and colour. I have just bought a new Canon MG2560 using different cartridges, but made sure that they also used black and colour.

    • My Epson XP352 printer cartridges have run out already, despite the fact that I have hardly used them, this is truly a disgusting state of affairs bearing in mind the cost.

    • I fully agree that we are being ripped off by the printer companies.My HP Deskjet 2700 printer hardly prints 30-40 copies then the cartridge is empty.To replace the cartridge cost about 30% of the actual cost of the printer itself.

  • I JUST bought (In October and It’s Nov. 14th today) a set of INK from Epson. My magenta is low already! Everything is halfway used already. Never has my ink gone down this fast and I do print at least 1 page a day. I was using LD products. Now I’m going back forever. These guys know what they are doing. Not 1 problem with their ink, ever!. Plus, such nice and kind customer service. Super fast shipping. P.S. I’m just a customer, I do not work/ affiliated with LP Products. Just so you know. 🙂

  • I have the Epson WF 2850 and I am constantly running out of magenta. All of the ink seems to be going pretty quickly, but magenta goes at a MUCH faster rate

  • I Have a Hp OfficeJet pro 8030,all my inks are running out so fast ,i don’t know why..i can’t determinate if the problem is from my inks or from the printer ,could somebody help me? i did my best but i don’t have the right result yet

    • Hi Olson, what kind of documents are you printing? If you are printing photos or complex documents with a lot of color, the cartridges will run out a lot faster.

    • i HAVE A HP OFFICE JET PRO 8020 SERIES AND MY INK JETS ARE RUNNING OUT FAST AS WELL. I AM TIRED OF SPENDING AN ANORMOUS AMOUNT OF MONEY FOR LITTLE RESULTS. ARE THESE INK JETS A SCAM TO GET MORE MONEY OUTOF THE AMERICAN CONSUMER? VERY VERY VERY POOR PRODUCT!

    • Hi Deb, I understand your frustration! We offer high yield compatible Office Jet Pro 8020 ink cartridges that cost only $12.99 per color cartridge and only $18.99 per black ink cartridge. You can shop for them here: https://www.ldproducts.com/ink-and-toner/hp/hp-officejet-pro/8020

  • I have an HP Envy 4511. It was working great for awhile, I was getting the number of printed pages out of each cartridge as expected and then one day I wasn’t. My husband ran the cleaning program and we tried it again with a new cartridge, the more costly one that promised twice the number of printed pages. I ran out of ink after printing about 20 pages, draft setting, just text no pictures/photos, ie; letters and pages in a book. We put in another new cartridge and again, 15-20 pages and the cartridge was out of ink. I have one more cartridge but I don’t think that approximately $1/page is economical so I hesitate using it until I figure out what could be wrong.

    Does anyone have any ideas about what could be the problem? Thank you.

    • Hi Kimrey,

      If you’ve already tried running the cleaning function on the printer, you can also try manually priming the ink inside the cartridge. This process wicks out any dried ink that may be preventing you from a quality print. To start, grab a warm, damp paper towel and a dry paper towel. Take the warm, damp paper towel and blot the cartridge with the printhead side down onto the towel. You should see ink appearing on the paper towel after blotting a couple of times. Be careful not to confuse the printhead with the gold and copper contacts or dots. After blotting onto the damp paper towel, hold the cartridge against the dry paper towel for 30 seconds to a minute. When you’re all done, reinstall the cartridge and try printing again. Hope this helps!

  • I have a cannon TS 3122 printer/scanner Bought brand new black ink and after printing 30 pages the low ink light can on and says i am out of ink. barely printed anything

    • Yes! me too.I’ve changed the cartridges 2 times with the XL, what is going on?

  • You’re over here talking about printing 800 plus pages per cartridge. I just replaced my cartridges today, Printed about 10 test sheets after head cleaning. And my cartages are now out of ink!

    • Yikes! What printer do you have? I would expect this to happen with cartridges promising 180 or 300 pages.

  • My Canon Pixma TR4520 also runs out of ink super fast. I printed 2 years of tax returns 2x. About 100 pages if that with supporting documents. Gone. Pissed.

  • I also just purchased a TR4520 with the XL ink in September. I have already swapped out the factory ink for the XL cartridges and now it is telling me I am running out of black. I print 1-5 pages per day of e-mail type documents.

    • Hi Sally, unfortunately the cartridges that go with the TR4520 are not very economical. The PG-245XL black cartridge has a page yield of 300 pages, but this is at 5% coverage, which is about the same as printing out a short email. If you are looking for longer lasting cartridges, you need to switch to a printer that uses higher yield cartridges. If you print that frequently, you might consider buying a monochrome laser printer like the Brother HL-L 2350DW. It uses a single XL black cartridge that has a yield of 3,000 pages.

  • We have a Canon MP250 printer. We print a couple of pages a couple of times a month. Our cartridges run low in a month or two. Is this what others are seeing?

    • Hi Mary, the Canon PIXMA MP250 cartridges are not very ink efficient compared to other Canon cartridges so it makes sense that they run low relatively quickly. The PG-210 black cartridge has a yield of only 220 pages at 5% page coverage. If you want more prints, go for the XL version, which prints 401 pages, or you could switch to a more ink efficient printer as a better long term option. Hope this helps!

  • So, I don’t print that often, does that mean I only get 5 prints before the firmware forces me to replace the cartridge.

    You name a bunch of problems except the real one. Corporate greed. The ‘press’ needs to quit letting this stuff slide, but it seems ok with them just like the larger corporate takeover of American government. Guess you’re all part of the same herd.

  • My HP 9010 series less than a year old malfunctioned and stopped printing yellow on the third HP cartridge. I finally got a hold of a live HP technician. After an hour and a half on the phone we could not fix it so she sent me a new printer. The new printer came yesterday and after setting it up I discovered it did not have a printing head in it and they expected me to remove the old printer head out of the non proper (yellow) functioning printer head and put it into the new printer. This I did and…You can anticipate the results. The old printer head in the new printer will not print yellow. So now I have two non functioning HP 9010 series printers, one of which I am supposed to send back to the idiots who sent me the new printer without a printer head. Ink is exorbitant, tech support is incompetent, Don’t ever buy HP products. John

  • I have a HP6600. I put new cartridge’s a few month’s ago printed a couple of things and now they are all empty. I was blaming the grandkids for using all the ink up but they all swear up and down they haven’t used it. What type of printer is the best bang for the buck for getting most out of the ink when it is used very little.

  • Good tips in this article It’s 2022 and I bought an HP Envy last year. No one would envy this machine; it has pretty blinking lights but is fussy as—well I have no machines this fussy. Especially the way the ink doesn’t last. I have tried keeping the ink sealed in bags but will try the tub and damp cloth, etc., as well and sealing off the nozzle end with the tape. I didn’t expect this bad a performance on a costly machine. My previous HP was a workhorse. I’d leave the ink in and it never dried out, printed fine, and the ink LASTED about 500% longer. HP ink is still expensive. Something is waaaay off besides ink that is drying out. Either the machines, the ink, or both.

  • I am also having such issues with low/no ink after replacing the cartridges all too frequently. In fact, I had to replace the ink cartridge after only a few sheets (I had to in order to print something I needed right away) and the paper for the scan from the previous change was still on the glass! This is costing an inordinate amount of money. What is HP justification to everyone having this issue?

    HP – you need to really stand by your mission or get a new one:

    Our mission is to help you cut down on printing costs — whether that may be through methods that will enable more efficient use of your printer, the knowledge on what printer best suits your needs, or by offering lower cost ink and toner options, We think consumers deserve more affordable options when it comes to ink and toner cartridges. In our 20 years in business, we’ve helped millions of households, schools, organizations, and businesses save on printer supplies.

    • I have the same problem . HP on line help is a waste of time all it says is you are out of warranty. This is my second set of cartridges in 6 months and all I got was 12 pages the previous set was 4. HP are ripping us off.

  • Stay away from Epson WF-4720! Advertised to print hundreds of pages but barely prints 50 pages. I run on black only or with color ink, I get the same result of running out very fast. When one ink runs out you can not print with other inks. You need all cartridges. Then you can choose to print black only from settings, which makes no difference. It costs $125 to buy a Epson cartridges. Very, very frustrating to experience scam of this kind.

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