How to Re-Ink a Typewriter Ribbon

typewriter image by zelenyj from

Even with the advent of the Internet, typewriters remain popular collector’s items, reminding us of times gone by. Because they are outdated, however, it can be difficult to find typewriter supplies. Applying more ink to your typewriter ribbons is an easy alternative to purchasing new ones.

Apply ink to the ink pad lightly. Applying too much ink to the pad will cause the ink to clog up on the ribbon. Spray a thin layer of silicon over the pad to help the ink stick to the ribbon.

Lay the ribbon across the ink pad. Place a weight over the ribbon that will hold the ribbon in place; you should be able to gently pull the ribbon through between the weight and the pad. Do not use too heavy a weight, as you risk tearing the ribbon or clogging it with too much ink.

Gently pull the ribbon across the ink pad. Try to keep a steady pace so that each section of ribbon receives an even coating of ink.

Things You'll Need

  • Ink pad
  • Ink
  • Weight
  • Silicon spray


  • Applying WD-40 oil to a typewriter ribbon—about a drop every inch along the ribbon—can help to bring some of the existing ink to the surface and elongate the life of your ribbon.

    Have someone assist you with this project. Someone can hold the spool with the used ribbon while you pull it over the ink pad and wind it onto the other spool.


About the Author

Samantha Volz has been involved in journalistic and informative writing for over eight years. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with a minor in European history. In college she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and completed a professional internship with the "Williamsport Sun-Gazette," serving as a full-time reporter. She resides in Horsham, Pennsylvania.

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