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


Most Canon genuine individual ink tanks (including PGI-5, 220, 225, 520, 525, 650 and CLI-8, 221, 226, 521, 526, 651 etc) as well as most compatible ink tanks are fairly easy to refill - if you know what to do. It is also important to have the right refill tools and correct plugs.

Note: If your Canon printer uses two ink cartridges, (1 black & 1 tricolour), the info on this page doesn't apply. You can find information on refilling Canon PG-640/640XL/510/512/37/40/50 and CL-641/641XL/511/513/38/41/51 etc here.  

All Canon ink tanks refill the same and the process described below can be used with any (Canon) ink tank model (including 5/8/220/221/225/320/321/520/521/525/526/650/651 etc). The only variable is the fill hole location. On some ink tanks, the hole is slightly forward of the position indicated below. On 650/651 tanks the fill hole is underneath the CR code.

1) Remove Canon ink tank from printer and seal the ink outlet (bottom of tank). Using a click-in refill clip is the easiest...

canon refill clip

If you don't have a suitable refill clip, you can reuse the "break off" clip that comes fitted to Canon ink tanks - when new. It will not click back on,  so use a couple of rubber bands to hold it in place. If you haven't kept the Canon clips, wrapping several layers of Glad-wrap around the cartridge (tight) works well too. Whatever you use must be tight - to stop the ink leaking out while you're injecting it.   


cli-526 ink cartridge wrapped


 2) Locate the fill hole - hidden under the cartridge label (on top). If not sure where it is...run a finger over the label and you should be able to feel an indentation underneath. Once you find the indentation, use something sharp (eg Stanley knife) to scrape some of the label off, until you expose the original fill plug (small plastic ball). 

3) Remove the fill plug - using a plug tool. Screw the tip into the plug 2-3 turns, or until it feels tight, then pull on the tool and the plug should come out with it. If the tool seems stuck and won't pull out, backing off a turn might help. Don't rush this step and take care, when screwing the tool in, as to not damage sides of the hole. If you damage the hole, the plug may not seal properly and the cartridge can later leak. If you don't have a plug tool, you can drill the plug out, (using correct size drill). If you don't have a drill either, the only other option is to knock the plug into the cartridge - using a blunt nail or suitable punch and a hammer. This is not ideal, but if you have nothing else to remove the plug with...it will have to do.

cli526 plug removal

4) Fill the ink tank - using a syringe & needle. Don't rush this step, or you'll make a mess. With some Canon ink tanks (eg CLI-226/526/651 and PGI-225/525/650 etc) you can't see the ink level, so the first clue you'll get that the cartridge is full, is when the ink overflows. Holding a corner of folded tissue paper up against the needle is the best way to prevent the ink spilling over and making a mess. When the tank is full, wait 20-30 seconds for the ink level to drop, then inject some more - until the reservoir is full. Don't leave the fill hole open any longer than that, or try to top up again - or the sponge will get too full. This can make the cartridge leak later on, when installed in the printer.

cli-526 refilling

5) Plug the hole. If you don't have a proper plug, you should be able to reuse the original ball plug. You can also use hot glue, silicone sealant etc. If you have nothing else, knead a 5mm ball of Bluetack and push it in - tight. It doesn't matter what you use - as long as the seal is air tight and whatever you use, doesn't protrude any more than 1mm above top of the ink tank. Late model Canon printers are very tight and there is hardly any clearance above the ink tanks.

cli-526 plug detail

6) Check the ink tank for leaks. Unclick it from refill clip, (or remove Gladwrap) and place it (in upright position) over something it can drip into. Leave it for couple of minutes to confirm it's not leaking (from the outlet). Few drops is ok, but if the leak continues, there is a problem - more than likely with the fill hole seal. Rectify, before fitting the cartridge in printer. Also...if you had any spills along the way...make sure the chip has no ink on it. If it does, rinse the ink tank under tap or at least wipe the chip clean with a damp cloth.  Make sure the chip is 100% dry - before fitting it in printer!

Tip: Rectangular Devondale butter containers are a good shape/size for Canon ink tanks. The tanks sit just inside the top edge of the container and away from any ink that drips out. 

You can find quality refill kits for Canon ink tanks here. Refill kits include all the tools/plugs etc you need. You can also find more ink cartridge/ink tank refill tips here.

If you need more info, contact us.       

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