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. Lynn says:

    I found this website to reset the microchip telling you that you can’t do this. I can’t try it right now, as I have just putchased brand new ink cartridges that cost more than the $30 sale price on the printer! But maybe it will help someone.

  2. Jeff says:

    Ugh! Thanks for the 8 hour tip. I’ve been driving myself crazy trying to rush. Years ago the Cannon printers used to be so easy to refill…now they are all making it harder on us. I have the same cartridge as shown above for the HP…it’s not as easy but worth it considering the money you save. Thanks again!

  3. Karen says:

    I’m in Sydney and was wondering if the ink cartridges would be the same as your side of the world – they are and it works!!. Got a little kit online and so chuffed with myself when I got the cartridge refilled and operational. Thanks for the inspiration and sending out those “can do” vibes.

    Cheers Karen

  4. Brittany says:

    I didn’t think I could ever do this, until I saw that your ink is 61. Mine is 61. When I bought this printer I realized that the ink was more expensive than a whole new printer, so I figured I would encounter such a situation as this when the time came. I’m glad you’ve proactively kept me from having some sort of “Printer or Ink?!” meltdown.

  5. Kristin says:

    It’s a total scam, that printer ink. I’ve heard it said, and I believe it is true, that the printer itself is just a vehicle for selling ink. And I’ve noticed that the initial ink cartridges you get when you buy a printer, especially one you get “free” (after a rebate that may or may not ever arrive) with the purchase of a computer often run out after very little printing, so you have to buy ink that much sooner.

    • Brittany says:

      When I worked at a big-box electronic retail store in college this was absolutely true (minus the word scam. they didn’t like that word). The initial sale was the printer, which they made very little money on. Then you had to sell the USB cord, the ink, the paper, etc etc. The ink that came with the printers was kind of a tester cartridge. The $$ came from selling the “real” cartridges.

  6. Kimber says:

    I just saw this meat cleaver necklace and thought of you:

    • Karen says:

      Kimber – LOL. Everyone seems to be seeing that and thinking of me! Someone else emailed it to me. I *love* it. As you can imagine. :) ~ karen

  7. Evalyn says:

    I have never done the cartridge refill thing at home, but I have worked with them in the workplace. I must urge caution as many inks and toners are very toxic and some are carcinogenic – so if the packaging contains cautions and says wear gloves or a mask, it’s best to follow those instructions.

  8. Traci says:

    HOLY COW!!! I am so excited about this! As I am typing, my printer is getting a fax and I am cringing at the amount of ink being used. I am gonna definitely order this kit. BTW, I looked up my particular brand, Epson, and found that the company sells cartridges for refilling that do not have the “chip” in them so they can be refilled without worrying about that annoying message showing up. Thanks Karen!!!

  9. Lynne says:

    Would this work with laser printers as well ? Here’s hoping !!

    • Karen says:

      Lynne – Laser printer cartridges *can* be refilled as well, with a similar technique from what I understand, but I’ve never done it myself so can’t guarantee anything. Google your printer make and cartridge # and you’ll find some info! ~ karen!

  10. Gayla T says:

    You are one classy chick mama. I got my beautiful towel in the mail on Saturday. I’ve been buying Barbie and Ken clothes on Ebay for the kids to play so thought that was what would be in the pkg w/o ever seeing it was from Canada. I pulled out the beautifully wrapped item and found……the TOWEL! Beautifully printed. pressed, folded so the hatchet was perfectly centered on the folded fabric and tied with the most elegant ribbon with The Art of Doing Stuff printed in gold! I was so surprised and thrilled not to mentioned terribly impressed with the quality of the gift. I was going to frame it in a black frame and hang it in my kitchen but now, I don’t know. That gold print might look really nice in a gold frame maybe matted in black. I’m going to take it to Hobby Lobby and play around with a few looks just to see what works best. I took it outside as everyone in the neighborhood waa out doing lawn work and showed it around. As I expected it was just so far over everyone’s head that they totally didn’t get it but I adore it and that’s what counts. Never mind the questions about why someone I met on the internet was sending me a hatchet. I did say it was really a meat cleaver but then they wanted to know if you know where I live. Of course you do since you sent it to me! Then the subject of the meat cleaver Jack Nickelson used to chop down some door came up and now my kids have had an extra lock put on the doors. They programmed in the 911 on speed dial on my phone, too and had a man out today for an estimate on having special outside lighting on all four corners of the house. I guess I won’t mentioned anything about you robbing banks. They are already talking about 8 ft. chain link fence aound the front and razor wire on the wood fence around the back yard. I already have door alarms but they are talking about window alarms for Mother’s Day. Well, anyway, I haven’t had this much attention since I came home from the hospital after my 89 day stay from a bout of Sepsis and I’m kind of enjoying it and I love my towel. Talk about a great gift! Thank you from the bottom of my weak old heart.

  11. Liz says:

    I used to do this all the time with my old printer, but since the cartridges on my “new” printer have a computer chip on them I didn’t think it would work. Doesn’t the chip tell the printer that the cartridge is empty and wouldn’t you have to reprogram the chip before it would believe that it was full again? If that’s not true then I threw out a perfectly good 1/2 used refill kit about a year ago :(

  12. Jo says:

    My printer has 5 cartridges & if I were to replace them all at the same time the combined cost would be more than I paid for the printer! They also have that damn microchip so that if I refill one I get The Message plus my printer refuses to print. However, there is a tiny little place up the street where the woman has the code to the chip on my cartridges and she refills them for half the price of buying new. AND it gives me satisfaction because I think the cheap printer with hugely expensive cartridges is such a ripoff!

  13. Heather says:

    This might not be the best thing to do if you have a new printer still under warranty. If you’ve bought an extended warranty, you might want to check with Staples or Future Shop before you use a refilled cartridge.

    I’m sure going to try it out when my current printer’s warranty expires!!

  14. Amy in StL says:

    Crying face! Why is it men don’t get that? No-one can tell you’ve been crying, he says. Yeah, except every woman out there!

    Oh, this was about printer ink wasn’t it?

  15. Anastasia says:

    I’ve been refilling our ink cartidges for about a year now and…there’s only one problem. I’m convinced the printers are programmed to LIE, telling me that my ink cartridge is out of ink, when in fact, it’s not. This is a clever way to get you to buy more ink.

    I’ve learned to ignore these notices when they appear on my screen. I just wait until my pages start printing out with missing or deformed letters. When I see it with my own peepers, THEN I know I’m really out of ink.

    But Karen, if you can figure out how to disable that annoying, LYING message, that would be awesome! :-D

    • Karen says:

      Anastasia – There’s no real way to get rid of it. Once it register’s it’s out of ink or close to it, refilling it won’t fix the message. You just have to ignore it. I’m sure there’s some super-complicated way to get rid of it, but basically the printer isn’t recognizing the fact that you’ve refilled the cruddy old cartridge with new ink. Just ignore it. ~ karen!

  16. Kate S. says:

    It must be noted that this only works on newer printers if you’re careful not to let the cartridge actually “run out” of ink. The cartridges now come with a microchip that tells the printer and its drivers how much ink is in each cartridge. Once that chip says the cartridge is empty, it’s a royal PITA to fix it and despite being newly refilled with ink, the printer will continue to insist it is empty and, quite possibly, refuse to print anything.

    This story from firsthand experience, all technical information ad-libbed from my husband, who is far more knowledgeable about printers than me. Any inaccuracies are his fault: )

    • Karen says:

      Kate S. – True. You can’t let the cartridge run out *entirely*. I was pretty close though. The cartridge was b-a-r-e-l-y printing when I refilled it. ~ k!

  17. Diane says:

    This is terrific information! What an awesome blogger you are! :D I’ve never tried this…and never realized it could be done with non-refillable ones. Where were you when I needed you?? LOL

    However, I buy my print cartridges on ebay for about $1-$2 each…they are not a brand name, I’ve been using them forever and they never clog my printer. I do feel bad for destroying the environment one printer cartridge at a time, though. But I counter that with all the blue bags I put on the curb every week! lol

  18. Kerry Piader says:

    You are a genious!!!!!!!!! Thanks so much for sharing this information. Just ordered a kit for my printer and it looks like a wonderful company to do business with. What a fantastic savings.

  19. Kristin says:

    I just found you! Wow! I seem a lot less crazy to myself right now. I am a freak for making things myself–business cards, brie cheese, rosewater, a wood-fired pizza oven in my back yard–but I bought a pre-made chicken coop and am about to hire a handyman to hang a porch swing (we can’t find the studs.) You are awesome, and I love this blog!

    • Karen says:

      LOL. Thanks Kristin! Glad you found my site. :) ~ karen p.s. I probably wouldn’t recommend anyone build their own chicken coop anyway. Turns out … it’s a bit of an ordeal.

  20. Jillian says:

    Missed the paragraph on color. Thanks Karen!

  21. Nancy Blue Moon says:

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

  22. Laura Bee says:

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

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

  24. 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!

  25. 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.

  26. 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

  27. 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!

  28. 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!

  29. Annie says:

    You truly are a goddess.

  30. Jules says:

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

  31. 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!

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

  35. 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!

  36. 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

  37. 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 :(

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

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

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

  41. 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

  42. 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.

  43. 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 :(

  44. Carole says:

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

  45. 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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