Where to Buy Cheap Inkjet Refills

Inkjet printers can produce easy-to-read black text and vibrant photo reproductions. Unfortunately, the technology to make the cartridges is advanced enough to make the cartridges expensive. There are a variety of ways you can save on your home, or even business, printing costs including purchasing inkjet refills.

What are Inkjet Refills?

Inkjet refills are either cartridges that have been refilled professionally by a business and sold as remanufactured or refilled, or they are cartridges that have been manually refilled by the home owner of a home office or by the small business owner him/herself or the business' employees.

The Refill Kits

It's possible to purchase refill kits yourself at any office supply store. The kit will come with needles, bottles of ink and a cartridge holder. Each kit is slightly different depending on the manufacturer that makes them. The colors of the bottles of ink will all be the same since every printer uses the same colors. These are black and the three primary printing colors: cyan, magenta and yellow. Refill kits are available with the black-only ink option or with all the colors. Usually there is a single bottle of each color in the kit.

The DIY Refilling Process

If you're doing the cartridge refill yourself, you'll be using a process referred to as injecting the ink. With the needles and tools supplied in the manufacturer's refill kit, you'll be injecting the fresh ink either directly into the ink chamber after removing the top, or through a hole on the top of the cartridge.

There will be directions with the inkjet cartridge refill kit, but generally you'll be injecting the ink into the needle directly from the bottle and then injecting it into the empty cartridge. It's important to inject the ink slowly into the needle from the bottle to prevent air bubbles. It's equally important to slowly inject the ink into the cartridge to reduce the chance of overfilling it, damaging it or causing the ink to run into other ink reservoirs. The last point is only of concern if you're adding ink to color ink reservoirs.

With some refill kits you may need to remove a little bit of air from the cartridge after filling it up to restore the ink-fluid balance. The instructions with the kit will let you know if you need to do this. This step isn't necessary with all inkjet refill kit manufacturers.

Next you'll need to make sure that the freshly filled cartridge is going to print properly. You'll need to re-insert the cartridge. You might notice extra ink flowing from the print head. It's possible to wipe this with a lint-free cloth. In other cases the ink might not have reached the bottom of the cartridge yet and won't print. If this happens, the ink needs to be forced to the bottom. The instructions with the refill kit will describe how to do this. Sometimes running the printer cleaning utilities will fix the problem.

Flow problems can also be caused by dried ink. Fix this problem by wiping the print head several times with a lint-free cloth moistened with isopropyl alcohol with a concentration of 50 percent or higher. If this doesn't work, try placing the cartridge in a shallow bowl of almost hot, clean water. The water depth needs to be at least a quarter inch.

Professionally Refilled Cartridges

Some printer companies collect their inkjet cartridges, refill them in production facilities and sell them as remanufactured cartridges. Some companies, like Lexmark, will provide a postage paid return bag for each cartridge to make it easier for consumers to return them for recycling.

If your preferred inkjet printer company doesn't offer this service, you can take your empty cartridges to almost any office supply store for recycling. Many will take them, refill them, test them and then resell them again. To encourage cartridge recycling, these businesses will often give participants discounts on future ink purchases.