This question has plagued computer users since the dawn of the laser printer. You just bought an expensive OEM toner cartridge...how long will it last?
The answer is simple yet mind-boggling. With proper storage, your toner cartridge will last forever. (Ok, toner cartridges are not immortal, but if properly cared for they will probably outlast the life of your laser printer.)
But a better question is: What kind of life will you give your toner cartridge?
Your Printer, Your Lifestyle
Everybody uses their printer differently. Are you constantly printing school reports and Internet recipes? Do you print photos once a week? Once a month? Once a year? Is your laser printer a buzzing hive of activity, or a dust-covered plastic paperweight?
How often you print — and what you print — has a major influence on the life of your toner cartridge.
It’s simple math — if you print image-heavy pages, your toner is going to empty out more quickly than pages that contain only a few lines of text. Still, even with this basic equation in mind, there are steps you can take to extend the life of your toner cartridge.
Keep It Clean
Keeping your laser printer clean and well maintained will not only extend the life of your printer, it will extend the life of your toner cartridges as well. Both the inside and outside of the printer can be wiped down with a damp or lint-free cloth. Use soft bristles and moistened Q-tips to remove grime. Clean the rubber feeder rollers with isopropyl alcohol. Don’t use a vacuum cleaner or compressed air — this may damage printer parts.
Get In The Mode
Exploring the print mode on your printer software is another secret to getting toner cartridges to last longer. Look under the “Paper/Quality” Tab in “Properties” on your printer’s settings for "draft," "grayscale" or other options that use less toner. Reserve the highest quality print settings for final drafts. There's no need to waste toner on something that ends up in the trash.
Go High Yield
If you have a choice between regular toner cartridges and high-yield cartridges, spend the extra money and spring for high-yield cartridges. Printer manufacturers pack more toner dust in the hoppers of high-yield cartridges so you’ll get more pages per cartridge and spend less per page in the long run. A high-yield cartridge gives you a bit more wiggle room when extending toner life.
Sometimes removing a toner cartridge and giving it a good shake will allow you to get more life out of the cartridge.
Whether you have a Brother, HP, Canon, or some other model of printer model, these tips should help you when a project is due and the low toner message pops on. Save yourself money and time by being patient with your printer. Get to know it (try looking at the OEM printer manual every once in a while). With basic care and a few tips and tricks, you’ll get your toner cartridges to last longer. Treat your printer like a friend, and it will respond like a purring, toner-sipping buddy!