We use our printer almost daily.
Coloring pages for the kids, financial statements, church material, coupons, etc.
I can tell you that I used to dread the days the ink cartridges would run out. Paying a crazy price for a new black ink cartridge was NOT something I liked to even think about... and buying color cartridges? Pfffftt... right.
The price never made sense to me.
Is printer ink made with semi-precious materials? What's with the price discrepancy between printer ink and the ink in a BIC pen?
Obviously there's a difference, but SHEESH!
Well, a couple years ago, when I'd been printing off sheets and sheets of coupons and feeling bad about how much ink I was going through, and wondering just how much my ink was eating into my printed coupon savings, I decided to look into alternatives.
And I made a BEAUTIFUL discovery...
You can buy BULK universal printer ink for cheap and refill your cartridges at home!
Two years ago, I bought a kit with 500 mL of black ink (which is the equivalent of 100 cartridges for my printer), and it cost me all of $15.00.
I was so happy!! Even if I only used it to refill my current cartridge ONCE, I'd be breaking even. It was a win, win.
When the ink came in the mail, I happily opened the package, enlisted the help of my handy husband, and voila! My once empty ink cartridge was filled once more! And I was shocked to see that I barely made a dent in the bulk ink supply.
Two years have passed, and I've bought a new ink cartridge from the store exactly ONCE. I bought a clearanced cartridge, because the cartridge I'd been re-filling over and over eventually got a bit messy... refilling your cartridge at home begs a steady hand... let's just say I'm not the most steady-handed person on earth. The quality of the printing declined the last time I refilled my old cartridge. It makes sense, because pinter cartridges aren't meant to last forever, but they can DEFINITELY go a few rounds before biting the dust. Here's some more info on the life-span of a cartridge.
The photo above shows what I got for $15.00 two years ago. I've actually got no clue what the little red thingy is for... I'm sure it's important, but... I've never used it... or the silver hook thingy... or the little tiny black thingy... and I've long since discarded the plastic glove that came with the kit.
This is how much I've used over the course of two years... I know, right?! I'm going to walk you through how I re-fill MY cartridges. You might have different ones. That's fine. Be sure to order ink that has an instruction manual, or locate a tutorial online for YOUR printer cartridges. Not all cartridges are made the same. Okay, back to business.
How I Refill my own Printer Cartridge
Step 1: Remove the ink cartridge from your printer, and place it on some paper towels, or card stock, or on something that can get covered in ink/thrown out. (Just in case... you're not really going to cover anything in ink... hopefully.)
Step 2: My instruction manual says to make a hole through the top of the sticker into the little hole where the ink is located. (Not make sense? I had no clue my first time either. If you peel back the corner of the paper a bit, you'll see a small hole where you can insert your ink... you'll find it. I've got faith in you.) All that said, I'm pretty sure you can just remove the whole sticker, and use the hole... but I thought I'd just tell you what the instruction manual says.
Step 2: Remove the cap from your ink bottle. Poke a hole in the silver lining (I originally used the syringe needle, but over time, I had to make it bigger to be able to reach the ink as the bottle emptied.)
Step 3: Make sure the plunger on your syringe is pushed all the way in. Insert the syringe into the ink bottle. Pull back the plunger all the way to fill it with ink.
Step 5: Cover the hole with adhesive tape so that the ink won't leak out into the printer. Again, I'm sure you can remove the entire sticker first before you tape it if you want. Just thought I'd show you how the instruction manual says to do it... And, I know I didn't do a great job of keeping everything clean. I definitely don't have the steadiest hands. :) Put the cartridges back in the printer, and run a test page. You are good to go!
The refilled cartridge will print just like the old one. But, your computer might still tell you you have "Low" ink levels. Not true. I don't know why it says that. Also, I know it looks like you should be able to fit more than 5 mL of ink in there, but the rest of that cartridge is walled up and filled with air. The makers of ink cartridges sure are tricky.
You can do this with the color cartridges too. I've just never done it, because I bought black ink only before I knew any better. If you decide to do the color ink, let me know how it goes! The steps should be the same as for the black ink, but there will be three holes for the red, yellow, and blue ink.
Want some of your own? Here's a link to a good color and black refill option that will work for any brand of cartridge:
The ink listed above currently costs $14.01 if you have a Prime account through Amazon (Cheaper than what I spent, and it's an ESPECIALLY great deal for color ink!)
To give you an idea of how much 5 mL is, the HP cartridge says it will print about 210 pages. It's not specific about what that means, but there you go. Hopefully it'll give you a ballpark figure for how much you might save based on the cost comparisons below:
~ Savings ~
Disclaimer: I'm sure most people wouldn't go through 100 cartridges of ink any time soon. The ink I bought says there's an "expiry date," but every forum I've looked at online says it's not necessarily a factor. My ink was set to expire last year, but I still use it, and to date have had no adverse effects. This cost analysis is the side-by-side comparison, and even if you would typically go through only a fraction of this many ink cartridges, the savings is still relevant. Even if I chucked my recently "expired ink" today and bought another set of bulk ink, the savings would still be incredible.
500 mL Bulk Ink Supply Kit = $15.00
*Makes 100 5mL refills
1 5mL refill = $0.15
HP 92 Black Inkjet Cartridge (contains 5 mL): $15.97
Total Money Saved: $1582.00
Buy 8 black ink cartridges = $127.76
Use equivalent bulk ink = $1.02
*Money Saved Over 2 Years: $126.74