Canon 640, 645, 660 series & other ink cartridges - How to refill

Save a small fortune by refilling your empty Canon ink cartridges. It's easy, super economical and eco friendly as a bonus. All you need is a refill kit and few minutes of time. Learn how on this page...


Canon printer 'The following ink has run out' image

Canon ink cartridges - how to refill?

Most late model Canon ink cartridges (with printhead) refill the same and the process described below can be used with any cartridge of this type including black PG-37, PG-40, PG-50, PG-510, PG-512, PG-640, PG-640XL, PG-645, PG-645XL, PG-660, PG-660XL and colour CL-38, CL-41, CL-51, CL-511, CL-513, CL-641, CL-641XL, CL-646, CL-646XL, CL-661, CL-661XL (or whatever the numbers are in your country/region).

Note: If your Canon printer uses individual ink tanks, (one for each colour), the info on this page doesn't apply. You can find refill instructions for refilling various Canon ink tanks here.

Canon ink cartridge - refilling steps

1) Remove Canon ink cartridge from printer and peel the top label off. This should expose one or more miniature hole(s) in the top casing. There are three holes in colour cartridges and one in the black. Each hole is connected to a separate ink reservoir inside the cartridge and serves as an air vent. This is a pic of a CL-641 colour cartridge. 

Note: Don't stress if you damage or rip the label, it's no longer needed.

Canon CL641 refilling / removing top label

2) The air holes are too small to fit a filling needle through, so have to be enlarged first. A few turns (clockwise) using a hand drilling tool (like this)...and you have a neat filling hole. 

Drill tool

Note: Drill tool is included with Inkbank refill kits or you can order one separately. You could use electric drill instead, but be careful. Canon cartridges are filled with a spongy felt material and drilling into it can damage it. It's only the plastic top you're drilling through!

This is a pic of PG-640 black cartridge

CL-641 drill fill holes

3) Work out which colour ink goes into each hole - if filling a colour cartridge. The cartridges in pics below are PG-510 and CL-511, but the same colour positions are used with all Canon cartridges of this type (to date) including: #37/38, 40/41, 50/51, 510/511, 640/641, 640XL/641XL, 645/646, 645XL/646XL, 660/661, 660XL and 661XL. 

         Black                  Colour

Canon ink cartridge colour positions

If you get this step wrong and inject colour ink in the wrong hole - you may have to replace the cartridge. It is practically impossible to remove the contaminated ink if you make a mistake - without pulling the cartridge apart.

3) Securely attach a sharp needle to a syringe and fill it with ink by using the syringe in reverse (drawing on plunger). How much ink depends on the cartridge volume, how empty it is and what condition the internal sponge is in. For completely empty cartridges, use up to:

 Black cartridge  ml  Colour cartridge  ml  
 PG-37  4-6  CL-38  1-2
 PG-40  6-8  CL-41  2-4
 PG-50 8-10  CL-51  4-6
 PG-510  3-5  CL-511  1-2
 PG-512  6-10  CL-513  3-4
 PG-640  4-6  CL-641  1-2
 PG-640XL  8-12  CL-641XL  2-4
 PG-645  3-5  CL-646  1-2
 PG-645XL  6-10  CL-646XL  2-3

4) Insert the needle inside appropriate fill hole. You should feel some resistance as it enters the internal sponge. Push it in another 5mm and slowly inject the ink. Don't rush it and don't overfill the cartridge. It's not meant to be filled all the way to the top unless high capacity or XL version and may accept less ink than indicated above. If the ink is overflowing, you've put in too much!

Tip: Pausing injecting and inspecting the printhead (metal or plastic strip on underside) after every few ml injected, is the best way to avoid overfilling. The cartridge sponge can only hold so much ink and any excess will leak out - through the printhead. So...if you check the printhead during and after adding ink, you should see it starting to leak and know when to stop adding ink. Then suck 1 ml or so of ink  (or until the leak stops) back out using the syringe.

Canon cartridge inject ink

When finished injecting (all colours if colour cartridge), turn the cartridge upside down and gently knock it against some folded paper toweling or tissues few times - to drain any excess ink. Keep tapping it, until no more ink drains out. Then clean the cartridge up with tissue or damp cloth and fit it back in the printer.

Don't fit a leaking cartridge in printer, hoping it will stop leaking! It will but only 
after all the excess ink drains out into the printer.. And the leaked ink will not only make a mess, but can also cross over and contaminate other ink colours. So don't!

Don't leave cartridge sitting on paper towels/tissues (upright) after filling. The tissues will wick all the ink out if left long enough.

Don't seal the fill holes after filling! They must stay open for printing.

You can replace the top label if you want, but there is no need to. The cartridge will work perfectly ok without it.  

Note: A Canon cartridge leaking is never caused by the ink holes being open or a missing top label.

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