A Printer That *Won’t* Dry Up Between Jobs — & 4 Others Printers For Infrequent Use


While many things have gone paperless these days, there are still times when you need to print something, and when that happens, you want a printer that works right away — even if you haven’t used it in months. The best printers for infrequent use will be affordable and easy to maintain, with ink that doesn't dry out between printing jobs.

When choosing the best printer for infrequent printing, you have three style options. Here are the pros and cons of each:

  • Laser printers: If you're looking for low-maintenance, efficiency, and reliability, these fit the bill. They use long-lasting toner that doesn't dry up, so you can go for months between print jobs without worrying that the ink has dried up or clogged. However, laser printers do tend to be bulky and usually cost more up front, and most of them only print in black and white — although you can pay more for color printing.
  • Inkjet printers: Ideal for printing high-quality color images and photos, these are more compact and affordable. However, inkjet cartridges can dry up if not used regularly. To prevent that (along with last minute printing frustrations), you'll want to run a test page now and then.
  • Ink tank printers: Another good option for photo and image printing, these use high-capacity ink tanks that continuously supply ink a little at a time to prevent drying out, making them a low-maintenance color printing alternative that may be more practical than inkjet printers for occasional use. Keep in mind — these do tend to be more expensive.

Beyond that, you’ll want to consider extra features like a built-in scanner or copier, and whether you want wireless capabilities to print from your phone, tablet, or even cloud services.

Whether you're signing hard copies of documents, printing out theater tickets, or looking to frame your favorite photos, these are the best printers for infrequent use on Amazon that’ll be ready and waiting whenever you need them.

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The Overall Best

This compact laser printer is efficient, low-maintenance, and cost-effective — both up front and in the long run. It doesn’t print in color, but the black toner will last you longer than an inkjet cartridge, and since it won't dry out, you can rely on it to be ready when it's time to print. You get some great bonus features too, like a built-in copier and scanner, as well as the Wi-Fi capacity to print from almost any device or cloud service. However, to do so, you'll have to download the HP Smart app, which is an extra step.

The paper tray holds up to 150 sheets, and can accommodate letter paper, card stock, envelopes, and labels. But it's a bit slow as far as black and white laser printers go, printing only 19 pages per minute.

According to a reviewer: “I got this model in particular because it is exceptionally small for a laser-jet. It's significantly smaller than the inkjet I had been using. Setup was actually really easy, and I was able to get it working on my phone and laptops in a matter of minutes.”


A Laser Printer For High-Speed Document Printing

With the speed to print 36 pages per minute, this wireless laser printer is a great choice if you need to print a lot all at once and don't mind printing in only black and white. And it doesn't require much maintenance, either: The printer uses relatively affordable black toner that will last a long time — so while this option is a bit pricey up front, you won’t spend as much money in the long run. There’s an easy-to-use touchscreen, a built-in flatbed scanner, and Wi-Fi capability to print and scan from cloud services like Google Drive and Dropbox. (Note that you have to download an app to scan.)

The paper tray has a capacity of 250 sheets and is compatible with letter and legal paper, card stock, and envelopes. However, this option is a little bulky, so it's not the best printer for small spaces.

According to a reviewer: “I had no problems getting it set up and connected to my wifi and was printing 10 minutes out of the box. Compared to inkjets, it prints insanely fast and the text is much cleaner. Scanning and copying also work really well on it.”


A Laser Option That Prints In Color

For a few extra bucks, you can get the low-maintenance benefits of a laser printer, along with the capability to print in color with this laser color printer. And while the toner replacements are a bit pricey, they're not prone to drying out and clogging, making this printer a great option for occasional use.

Compatible with letter and legal paper, it has a 250-sheet paper tray capacity, and features a manual feed slot that can handle card stock, envelopes, and other paper sizes. However, the printer is a bit bulky, doesn’t have a built-in scanner or copier, and it's a bit slow — it can only print 19 pages per minute in color or black and white.

According to a reviewer: “After printing 100+ pages of mixed color and text documents, I am nowhere near expecting to change out the starter toner cartridges that came with it.”


The Best Inkjet Printer For Photo Printing

Inkjet printers tend do a better job of blending color for photos, and this one takes things up a notch, with special features like filters, red-eye correction, and a built-in copier and scanner. This inkjet printer is an affordable option, and the ink cartridge replacements are wallet-friendly, too. But remember: Cartridges can dry up and cause clogs if you don’t use the printer often, so you may want to print a test page or run a cleaning cycle now and then to prevent this. You can print on letter and legal paper, envelopes, and photo paper, but this unit isn't wireless, so you'll need to use the included USB cable to connect it to your computer.

Unlike the other options on this list, the printing speed is measured in images per minute (IPM), with eight IPM in black and white and four IPM in color. This is pretty slow, so probably not a great option if you're mostly doing document printing.

According to a reviewer: “Very basic printer and design. Does everything I need it to do, simply copy, and print.”


An Ink Tank Color Printer That Can Pay Off In The Long Run

Like inkjet printers, this wireless ink tank printer is also a champ when it comes to producing high-quality photos and images. But here's the kicker: Instead of using cartridges, it relies on bottles to provide a slow but steady supply of ink — an ingenious tweak that prevents drying out over time. Even better, one replacement set of ink bottles is equivalent to about 80 replacement inkjet cartridges. Of course, you're going to pay quite a bit more up front for this long-term payoff.

The Wi-Fi enabled printer can print from your computer, smartphone, or tablet, and you can also use voice activated-printing with Alexa or Google Assistant. The compact printer also copies and scans, making it a great all-in-one option. At 10.5 pages per minute in black and white and five pages per minute in color, the print speed is faster than the inkjet, but slower than the laser options.

According to reviewers: “Print quality is excellent to say the least, with highly legible text that's appropriate for most businesses and personal use. Also, its color photo quality printing is superior to laser jet printers at anything like the same cost.”