If you have recently purchased the top-rated laser printer, you may have noticed that this type of printer does not use traditional ink cartridges. Laser printers function via toner cartridges.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Laser printers use toner cartridges, whereas inkjet printers use ink cartridges.
  • Toner cartridges are extremely durable and can last decades if properly stored.
  • To extend the life of your toner cartridge during use, choose a high-yield option or adjust the settings on your printer.

How Long Do Toner Cartridges Last?

There are two factors to consider when assessing the lifespan of a toner cartridge. If the cartridge has been left in its original packaging and stored correctly, it should boast a near-infinite shelf life. This is because toner cartridges do not feature any liquids that can dry up. The toner dust may become slightly less effective over the years, but the cartridges should still function. Just like the toner cartridge, once an ink cartridge has been opened, it will begin to dry out in just three to four weeks.

If the toner cartridge has been removed from its original packaging and placed in a printer, it should also experience a near-infinite shelf life. In other words, toner dust is especially hearty and likely to outlast the laser printer itself.

Insider Tip

Toner dust is especially hearty and likely to outlast the laser printer itself.

Tips to Maximize Toner Cartridge Lifespan

If you are looking to maximize the lifespan of a toner cartridge during use with a laser printer, here are some useful tips and guidelines.

Clean and Maintain the Laser Printer

To maximize the lifespan of the toner cartridge, it is extremely important to regularly clean and maintain the laser printer itself. Wipe down all exterior and interior components with a damp or lint-free cloth. You may also want to use some cotton swabs to reach out-of-the-way areas of the laser printer. Apply isopropyl alcohol to the cotton swabs to clean the rubber feeder rollers. Do not, however, use a vacuum cleaner or compressed air to clean a laser printer, as this could damage some of the components.

Insider Tip

Wipe down all exterior and interior components with a damp or lint-free cloth.

Use the Correct Settings

You can adjust the settings on your laser printer to help maximize the efficiency and overall yield of the toner cartridge. Look under the “paper/quality” tab in “properties” on your printer’s settings for “draft,” “grayscale” or similar options that minimize toner usage. You should try to reserve the printer’s highest settings for important printing projects.

High-yield Cartridges

Not all toner cartridges are created equal. Most cartridge manufacturers sell high-yield toner cartridges, which are designed to last much longer than standard-sized cartridges. These high-yield toner cartridges may feature a higher upfront cost, but they will be effective for hundreds of more print jobs than a traditional toner cartridge. In other words, you will be spending less per page in the long run. You may also be interested in learning how the ink cartridge works.

Warning

The toner dust may become slightly less effective over the years, but the cartridges should still function.

F.A.Q.

What type of printer should I buy for occasional use?

If you are an amateur printer, you may want to choose an inkjet printer. Inkjet printers are much cheaper than laser printers and tend to be aimed more at casual users.


Will Laserjet toner cartridges dry up if the printer sits idle for a long time?

No. Toner cartridges are already dried up, as they contain toner dust and feature no liquids. Toner cartridges could potentially last decades.


Are inkjet printers cheaper to run than color laser printers?

If you are an infrequent user, an inkjet printer will be cheaper to run. If you are in a highly-trafficked office environment, then a laser printer is the way to go.



STAT: Quality drops off sometime after 90 percent of the toner dust in the cartridge has been used up, but that happens regardless of the age of the cartridge. (source)

Lawrence Bonk

Lawrence Bonk is a copywriter with a decade of experience in the tech space, with columns appearing in Engadget, Huffington Post and CBS, among others. He has a cat named Cinnamon.

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