How To Refill Ink Cartridges.

Once upon a time  my printer ran out of ink.

It was a sad, sad day and I cried very hard.  I pulled myself together and walked down to the corner so I could rob a bank.  When I got to the bank, I thought better of it and turned around and walked home.  I was sure to get caught on camera, and I was wearing a horrible outfit.  Plus I had “crying” face.

What to do.  I NEEDED to print stuff!

At home I flipped every cushion in the house, checked in every pocket and sold my cat.  The one who was weaned too early and kneads on me every night while I watch television.

Money in hand, I drove myself to the store and … bought myself a new printer.

Yeah.  It was cheaper to do that than buy a new printer cartridge.  Wasteful?  Probably?  My fault?  No.  Not really.  I *did* need a new printer, but had the ink not cost more than an entire printer with scanner, I would have just bought more ink.

The funny part about all of this is for years I’ve been filling my own printer cartridges.  I bought a kit at Costco years ago and it’s lasted forever.

And the best part?  It works.  I’m not sure why I didn’t use the kit during my “I NEED PRINTER INK” fit, but my best guess is I’d gone temporarily insane.  Maybe not so temporary actually.

Since the process is SO easy, and basically the same for every single printer cartridge out there I thought I’d share.  ‘Cause that’s what I’m all about.  Sharing and caring. And robbing banks.

What You’ll Need

Bottles of Printer Ink.  (various stores sell this, as well as Costco occasionally, and all kinds of places on-line)

Paper Towels

A used up printer cartridge (One that’s just run out of ink)






5 A







Instruction Recap

1.  Measure out 1 Tablespoon (15ml) of ink into your bottle.  If  your bottle has lines on the side to tell you how much ink you’re using, make sure you only use 1 Tablespoon.  Most printer cartridges hold 1 Tablespoon.  Measuring is important, because otherwise you are bound to under or overfill your cartridge.

2.  Remove your printer cartridge then remove the sticker.

3.  Place cartridge on a few layers of paper towel on a surface you will be able to wipe any spills up from.

3.  Insert needle into one of the holes in the cartridge.  If it hits sponge, you’re in the right hole.

4.  S-l-o-w-l-y  fill the sponge with ink.  If it starts to come out the hole you’re filling too fast.  Let it sink in, then start again.

5.  Attach your sticker to the SIDE of the cartridge, not the top where you originally took it off.  The cartridge will need to suck air to work so you can’t cover up the holes again.

6.  Insert your cartridge back into your printer.

7.  WAIT 8 hours.  You need to allow the sponge time to absorb all the ink evenly.

8.  Print to your heart’s content.

Refilling Colour Ink cartridges

Refilling a colour cartridge is a bit different, in that you put one colour in each of the holes.  It’s still the same method otherwise and still very easy.  If you need help with filling a specific cartridge, Refill Instructions is a great website, plus they’re sponsored by a site that sells ink so you can get some of that there if you need to as well.

My printer cartridge is actually pretty cheap.  $14 for one black cartridge.  A refill kit costs around $20, which will fill your cartridge 6 times, averaging the cost to $3.33 per one black cartridge.

Now I have a bit of bad news.  I need to replace my water filter.  So once I get myself gussied up for the cameras, I’ll be making my way to the bank.

Questions & Answers

Can you do this with colour ink as well?  YES!

I refill but my printer still thinks the ink is low.   There are chips on each ink cartridge, if you still can’t print with a refilled cartridge you might need to reset the chip or trick the printer.  Here’s how to do that for an HP deskjet printer.   If you know you’ve refilled your ink cartridge and it won’t print because the printer insists there isn’t any ink in it, you need to reset your printer’s ink cartridge. That’s something you’ll have to Google, because there are as many ways to do it as there are printer ink cartridges.




  1. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Thank You..Thank You..Thank You..I hate buying ink because I am very cheap..

  2. Laura Bee says:

    It’s like magic! Must attempt this, I thank you.

  3. Thank you so much for this this karen now, where is the instructions to robbing a bank…

  4. Tracie says:

    Crap, I just spent 25 bucks to have my cartridges re-filled and thought I was doing good! Wonder why they don’t require 8 hours of rest time when the ink guy does it, and they put the sticker back on too, I think….I’m not really sure, and I’m too lazy to check right now, but I believe I will check out the kits to do it myself next time. This is amazing, thanks Karen!

  5. Ginger says:

    Thank you so much for sharing, I also use alot of toner and I hate paying for them, so expensive. I did have a cartridge refill kit many years ago, before blogs etc… it was always so messy, I stopped using it, but now with your tips, I think I’m going to give it another try.

  6. Barbie says:

    I tried this once and it leaked all over my desk and printer….maybe I did it wrong. I will try this again. I just HATE how expensive printer ink is! Great post thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Barbie – You have to remember to NOT overfill (measure out your dose) and leave the hole at the top open. ~ karen

  7. Korrine Johnson says:

    I have fallen in love with you all over again. I need ink in my printer as we speak and I always procrastinate because the prices of cartridges are just stupid. I will pay $6.00 for a tiny bit of cheese but can’t be bothered with printer cartridges. Priorities. Anyhoo, I will be purchasing a refill kit today. Thanks a million!

  8. Maureen @theThriftyLass says:

    Oh my flippin’ diety. How is it that I never thought to do this? But thank you, once again, Karen. I just tweeted this post. Excellent!

  9. Annie says:

    You truly are a goddess.

  10. Jules says:

    Thanks so much for this Karen! you are genius..I never would have thought to do this! Im on it…

  11. Jillian says:

    Thank you so much Karen! I’ve been taking mine into a local fill it up place which is convenient and still 20 bucks a shot and color even more. Btw, can color be refilled since there are usually 3 colors? If so, how to?
    You are awesome!

    • Karen says:

      Jillian – Yup. I’ve shown instructions in the last paragraph in the post about colour cartridges. ~ karen!

  12. Nicole2 says:

    I did not know you could do that. Once again Karen, you provide us with something very useful. I bet the rate of bank robberies is going to drop drastically thanks to you. You are a hero.

  13. Whaaaat the whaaaaat???!! I could have been refilling my ink cartridges ? I once heard this idea from a ‘mad uncle’ in the family, and ,well..I thought he was ‘mad’.
    Wanna know how much I LOVE this idea? We need to fly to Europe to get our refill cartridges. Ha!! No kiddin’. We bought our printer in Europe, for crying out loud, and the cartridges can only be purchased there -even though the EXACT machine is sold in Canada. Lordy lordy.
    You just saved me a trip to Europe. I don’t know if I should kiss you or punch you.

  14. Great information, Thanks! My printer was acting funny and several colors were low so I bought new ink cartridges. Now I think the printer is dead. It kills me I paid for ink that cost more than half of the price of a new printer.

  15. Barbara says:

    Well that certainly is timely! I was headed into town (Ottawa) today to do battle with Printwell, who have been refilling my cartridges. But since the shop I went to closed, the new location will only honour my pre-purchased refills IF if refill my entire card. What a rip-off! anyway Karen, do the do-it-yourself bottles come with the syringes? how do you measure the 1 tbsp? into what? where? I seem to missing something!
    Thanks for the great advice….

    • Karen says:

      Barbara – The bottles do come with the syringes. My kit came with several bottles so I squeezed out 1 tablespoon of ink into a regular old tablespoon, and poured that into an empty bottle. That way I knew it was exactly one tablespoon. Some bottles come with lines on the side so you can see the measurements as you squeeze in the ink. ~ karen!

  16. Good news….I always thought it would be a super messy job to do this and wasn’t even sure you could still do it on the newer cartridges. Thanks…next time I’m in Costco, I’ll have a look around. xo wendy

  17. Deborah says:

    Cool…just don’t tell Kodak, Xerox, HP and whomever else that makes the consumables that cost an arm, leg, left ear AND your first born… :P Good job..only problem is, my printer uses solid ink, not the liquid stuff :(

  18. Moe says:

    I GOT MY TEA TOWEL !!!! Thank you sooooo much. Actually I got it on Friday but when I tore open the envelope and saw the cutely wrapped package inside, I didn’t have the heart to open it. So, it’s sitting on my sideboard so I can enjoy the look of it. Today I may open it… after I take a picture of it. :o) Thank you again.
    So, on the subject of ink cartridges, I filled mine for years too until the print head on my printer died and I had to buy a new printer. My new printer has the freaking chips on the cartridges and I haven’t figured out how to fill them up so my printer will read them as full. I bypassed that with my old printer but can’t with my new one. It appears that I might have to buy a chip reader or just buy the cheap refilled cartridges. I’ll NEVER buy original ones again though.. they’re such a rip off.

  19. CS James says:

    It really is amazing how expensive the inks can be – as everyone knows, that’s how they get ya! The sad thing is, the original printer cartridges are the best bet for your printer in terms of performance and output. This is a great tutorial – good job including the paper towels! If you don’t have the time or courage to refill cartridges yourself, there are always refilled or compatible cartridges available at a reduced price on the market, which is definitely worth a bit of research.

  20. Seriously – this just might be the best tip ever. EVER!

    (And I promise I’ll wait 8 hours before printing. :)

  21. Elle says:

    I’ve only used original HP cartriges so far as I’ve read warnings that non-original ink will clog and damage the printer’s head but I trust you more than I trust the folks at HP

  22. Marti says:

    Holy highly wonderful fount of information bursting forward like an overfilled printer cartridge! This is great stuff!

    I actually bought one of those kits, which came with instructions for the 40-billion different types of cartridges out there. BUT… it ran out and I was sad.

    You are still not off the hook for the silk screening tutorial, right?

    • Karen says:

      Marti – The silk screening tutorial will be up the week after next. Yup. ~ karen

      • Shauna says:

        Oh, that reminds me – I received my awesome towel! I think I opened it all carefully and with the awe it deserved (reminded me of your post on getting special mail). I took pictures and everything;) Love the packaging too.

      • Karen says:

        Shauna! Great! Um … maybe you could send me a few of those pictures. I still have 3 tea towels to send out and I completely forget how I packaged them! Oh dear. Something about a ribbon. I remember there was ribbon, LOL. ~ karen

      • Shauna says:

        You bet – just sent it. There was ribbon, and brown paper (love brown craft paper) and twine and a little, um, thingy that I don’t know what to call it where you wrote your name and I thought it was quite simple and brilliant and I will be using the idea for presents in the future.

  23. Zephyr says:

    I tried refilling ink cartridges (albeit I splurged for Costco to do it rather than doing it myself) and then I go home plug it into my HP all-in-one and yay, it worked! But a week later, I’m getting error messages proclaiming I am no longer using an HP-cartridge and refuses to print. Have you ever had this issue? Has my printer gotten smarter than me?!

    • Karen says:

      Zephyr – That’s somewhat scary. No I’ve never had that problem. You have have to take your printer out back and shoot it. ~ karen

    • Shauna says:

      Zephyr – I’ve seen that error a lot – on our work printers because we use refurbished ink cartridges. However, it still allows us to print. Is there an ‘ok’ or check mark button you can press that basically is like you saying, “yeah, yeah, I know, now print!”

      • Zephyr says:

        Shauna – thanks for the hint, but it doesn’t. There are tons of forums that claim to have a “trick” to fix it, but none of them have worked for me… I ended up just purchasing a brand new cartridge :(

  24. Carole says:

    What a great idea, thank you for the easy to follow (idiot proof) instructions.

  25. Trapped in Canadia says:

    What the frick? I’ve wasted so much money on printer ink! This is genius.

    • Karen says:

      It kind of is, isn’t it? The real trick is to wait 8 hours or so until you print. If you try to print right away it won’t work and you’ll think it’s stupid and awful. But it isn’t. Just wait the 8 hours for the ink to soak in. That’s the most important thing. ~ k!

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