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 Question: How many times can I refill my cartridge? What's the lifespan of a cartridge?

Answer: There is not a sure-fire answer to this question.  The average lifespan of an ink jet cartridge is 5-7 refills.  Some customers have received as many as twenty refills of one cartridge and as few as two.  There are many components within the ink cartridge.  Any of these microscopic parts can burn up, crack or break off at any given time. 

HP 51626 print head contactPictured at left is a close up of the contacts on an HP 51626A black ink cartridge.  If any of these "lines," which are actually electronically circulating information to and from the cartridge to the printer, become scratched or soiled the entire communication system is messed-up if not destroyed.  The natural oils from your hands alone can cause information to be transferred improperly from the cartridge to the printer.  This is why you should never handle or touch the copper contacts on any printer ink cartridge.

The contacts are just one point on the cartridge that can malfunction or wear out after numerous refills.  Inkjet printers, using a series of tiny nozzles located in the print head, spray minute dots on the media sent through the printer.  If any one of the nozzles within the print head gets clogged, burns out or becomes misaligned, then the cartridge can turn out to be unusable.  There are many other microscopic pieces within a printer's cartridge that can end up faltering before the rest of the cartridge or before it has been used for the average number of refills.

For the most success in prolonging your cartridge's life, you must take care of it.  Refill your cartridge before it runs completely dry or becomes empty.  If there is any chance of dried ink on the outside of the cartridge, follow our soaking instructions.  Do not handle your cartridge any more than necessary.  There are cartridge holders available for use during the refilling process.  By using the cartridge clip/holder, you don't take the risk of getting finger prints or smudges on the contacts.  (Clip holders and other ink refilling accessories are available at

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