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How to refill Canon ink cartridges...the easy way

updated August 2012        

All Canon genuine/compatible ink cartridges including PG-640/510/512/37/40/50 & CL-641/641XL/511/513/38/41/51) are easy to refill - if you know how. It helps to have the right tools as well, but you don't need much.

Note: If your Canon printer uses individual ink tanks, (one for each colour), the info on this page doesn't apply. You can find information on refilling Canon PGI-5/220/320/520/525/820 and CLI-8/221/321/521/526/821 etc here.  

All late model Canon ink cartridges refill exactly the same and the process described below can be used with any cartridge of this type. The instructions & pics are for a colour CL641 cartridge, but the black cartridges refill the same, except there is only one fill hole in black cartridges and obviously you only use one (black) ink.

To prevent making a mess, cover your work area with several sheets of newspaper and keep some tissues on hand for mopping up any ink spills. Sit the cartridge upright on few layers of folded tissue (during refilling only).

1) Remove the ink cartridge from printer and peel off the top label. You can replace the label when finished, if you like, but there is no need to. It is mainly there to hide the fill holes and to a lesser degree prevent ink leakage in transportation.

CL-641 cartridge with label removed

2) Locate the fill holes - under the label. As the breather holes are too small to fit a needle through, enlarge them using a drill tool (as in pic) or a small drill bit. It's ok to use electric drill, but don't get too carried away. The cartridge is filled with felt material and and it is easy to damage it, if the drill bit goes in too far. It's only the plastic case you're drilling...     

CL-641 cartridge drill holes


 3) Work out which colour ink goes in each hole - if filling a colour cartridge. The cartridge in pics is CL-641, but Canon use the same colour positions in all cartridges of this type (to date) including CL-511, CL-513, CL-38, CL-41 and CL-51. If you get this step wrong and inject the wrong ink - you may have to replace the cartridge.

Note: Colour stickers in pics are for demonstration purpose only. Don't seal the holes when finished! They must stay open.

CL-641 cartridge colours

4) Inject the ink - using syringe / needle. Don't rush this step, or you'll make a mess. As you can't see the ink levels, your first clue that the cartridge is full, is when the ink overflows. Holding a folded tissue up against the needle is the best way to prevent the ink spilling over and making a mess. Another way is to pause injecting and inspect the printhead (on underside) after injecting 1ml, 2ml etc. When the cartridge is full, the ink will start leaking through the printhead. When that happens, suck some ink back out (with the syringe) until the leak stops. Standard capacity (CL38, CL511, CL640 etc) don't take much ink at all and leak, if too much is injected. Don't fit a leaking cartridge in printer! If you do...any ink that leaks out can contaminate the other colours...so don't!

CL-641 cartridge refilling

When finished injecting (all three colours), turn the cartridge upside down and lightly tap it against few layers of folded tissue - to remove any excess ink. Keep tapping it, until no more ink comes out. Then just clean the cartridge up with tissue, or damp cloth and fit it in the printer. DON'T SEAL THE FILL HOLES! They must be open for the cartridge to work.  

You can find quality refill kits for Canon cartridges here and more canon cartridge refill tips here.

If you need more info...contact us.       

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