How to fix leaking printer cartridges

Updated April 17, 2017

Printer cartridges contain a special mixture of ink and lubricants to create images or letters when run through an electric printer. Most cartridges are watertight, with only a small hole for dispensing the ink mixture when signals are sent to it by the printer, but occasionally faults may exist within the cartridge itself. When these faults occur, it is important to fix or replace the cartridge as soon as possible to prevent damage to the printer itself.

Remove the cartridge from your printer and wipe both the housing and the cartridge with an alcohol-based wipe. Do not use a water-based solution for this as it may damage electrical components.

Clean the printer head where it touches the cartridge. Sometimes dust or debris at the connection point can cause leakage that is not due to a faulty cartridge.

Rub a white cloth or tissue over the cartridge until you have identified the leaking area. If it is only coloured at the outlet, this means the cartridge is fine.

Inspect the cartridge once you have determined the location of the leak. You should see a crack or fault. If not, squeeze the cartridge until you can see the damaged area.

Wipe the cartridge once more after you have identified the location and cut a piece of tape large enough to cover the affected area.

Place the tape over the affected area and smooth as much as possible. You can then replace the cartridge in the machine and test to ensure the area is firmly protected against future leakage.


If your cartridge was previously refurbished or refilled, it is more likely to be faulty than a new cartridge. These are not usually covered under any warranty and a manufacturer will not replace a machine damaged by them.


Be careful not to use more tape than necessary as you could block ink flow or cause the tape to peel off and get stuck inside your printer.

Things You'll Need

  • Faulty printer cartridge
  • Electric or gaffer's tape
  • Scissors
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About the Author

Nicholas Robbins has been a professional writer since 2008. He previously serviced system issues ranging from operating systems to point-of-sale deployment and global distribution system equipment. He has experience with computer and tech equipment, as well as business relations/management. Robbins studied business at the University of Alberta.