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Do printer ink and toner have expiry dates?

Ensuring your printer ink cartridges and toner are in tip-top condition is essential for good office production. In order to guarantee that anything you print displays a good image of your business or brand, you must take care of your consumables.

If your printed media begins to decline in quality, this can initially be confusing, and you may worry about your printer’s health.

However, before you call out a repair technician, or throw out your device completely, it is a good idea to check that your consumables are not the cause of the problem.

If you have ever found yourself wondering how long your cartridges should last, we have the answer here.

Storing any printer cartridges correctly is very important as they can corrode. The way in which this happens can differ between consumable type and how you treat your ink or toner.

In this post, we share how long toner and ink cartridges last and handy tips to keep them fresh as long as possible:  


Over time, ink and toner change in composition, and if you continue to use them once they have passed their expiry date, it can do damage to your printer. As well as this, it can obviously affect your ability to print well.

If your office demands a lot of printing, you might bulk-buy ink or toner cartridges, in which case you’ll want to do some research as to when they stop performing to their best ability.

If your inkjet printer is unused for lengthy periods, this can also cause ink to dry out and go off. Try keeping a note of when you change your ink to avoid damaging your device.

Do printer ink cartridges expire?

As a rule of thumb, ink lasts around 18 months to 24 months. You should be able to find a warranty on the label or box, which will tell you the last date that the manufacturer guarantees their ink.

Third party cartridges are not likely to last as long, as their quality is usually reduced. As well as this, using cartridges not approved by your printer manufacturer may cause long term damage to your printer. For example, with a Samsung laser printer, you should use branded Samsung toner cartridges.

Some ink cartridges have a sophisticated chip inbuilt which means the printer will automatically know when the ink has gone off and will shut down entirely or simply refuse the cartridge. This can be over-ridden if you believe it is faulty, although it’s not recommended unless you are 100% sure that the cartridge is new.

Does toner expire?

Laser printer toner cartridges are designed not to dry out, which gives the added benefit of them being able to print many more pages from a single cartridge, when compared to ink.

If a toner cartridge is stored in a properly vacuumed and sealed bag, it may have a longer shelf life than ink. However, once the bag has been opened, it could be subject to moisture, and so the cartridge should be placed into your device straight away.

Generally, genuine consumables such as Samsung toner cartridges will last for years if stored correctly and will last far longer than ink once installed in the machine.

However, an issue that may be faced with toner, is that it may become compacted over time, but this is usually easily remedied by following the manufacturer advice to dislodge it.

It’s always advisable to store spare toner cartridges for when existing cartridges run out. This will help to reduce the amount of down-time that your machine faces, which will help to keep your printer in top condition.

How should ink and toner be stored?

Ink and toner last much longer when stored in cool, dark places.

Direct sunlight, or too much heat, can cause the contents of ink cartridges to turn slimy or dry out altogether. This will mean that your print heads need to be cleaned if used in your device, or in some cases, they can even become damaged.

If you have a high quality laser printer, the properties of the toner can be easily ruined if stored in an unsuitable setting, which included damp areas. Your consumables should also be stored away from other chemicals as both ink and toner can begin to degrade.

Following this guide will help you to get maximum usage out of your printer consumables and ensure that your print-outs are always at their best.

These steps should also minimise any damage caused to your machine caused by using your ink or toner incorrectly, meaning you can print with peace of mind.

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