A while ago, BCHTechnologies did a live broadcast talking about how to refill a used Canon cartridge (specifically the PG-243, CL-244, PG-245, and CL-246 models). Today, we will be going over everything we covered in that broadcast. If you’d like to watch the broadcast, it’s posted here on my YouTube channel. We also have several other printer-related videos, including one about how to refill a virgin HP cartridge.
We covered a few main points in the broadcast, including how to buy and refill used cartridges from eBay and four methods for unclogging them when the print quality is undesirable.
We were fortunate enough to get the Canon laser printer we used in the demonstration for only around $30. This model came with a PG 243 and CL 244 model cartridge installed. Because they barely contain any ink, I like to call them “teaser cartridges.” I find that you can typically print a maximum of 50 pages with them before they run out of ink.
Once the default ink cartridges that Canon installs in your printer run out, they try to get you to buy a new set instead of continuing to use those. They do this to trap you in an endless cycle of giving them all of your money. The thing is, these cartridges often cost more than an entirely new printer. On the other hand, used cartridges tend to sell for around $10 on eBay.
For this demonstration, I ordered a set of four empty, used cartridges that no one had refilled before. I did not open the package before beginning the demo, so I had no idea whether this process would work for them.
I was delighted with how the seller packaged the cartridges. So much so that I almost forgot to put on my gloves. Always wear gloves when refilling ink cartridges, as it will always be a messy process. Ink can get everywhere and is pretty hard to clean off.
Clean off the Old Ink
The condition of the cartridges I ordered wasn’t too bad, but they did have quite a bit of old, dried-on ink. I started by using a blade to peel off the label of the empty blacky teaser cartridge. I peeled the label after the other black cartridge as well. It’s not an XL cartridge, but it can still hold almost twice as much as the teaser cartridge on a single refill.
Then there are the XL cartridges. You’ll see that the plastic top on the normal-sized cartridge is really thick. They’re trying to waste space rather than use a decently-sized sponge to hold the ink. That’s the main difference between that and an XL cartridge. While they may appear roughly the same size from the outside, the lid is thinner on the XL and can hold much more ink.
We started the demonstration with the PG-245 cartridge. We used an ink refilling kit in the demonstration that I highly recommend. To get one, you can go to BCHTechnologies.com. You can locate it by typing “KD30ET” into the search bar. KCMY means four ink tanks are in the kit, and S is for the 243, 244, 245, and 246 ink cartridge models.
This ink refilling kit will include four inks. There will be one for each color and another for black. There will also be a priming clip, a priming syringe, two different lengths of blue silicone pad for the priming clip, and a pair of gloves. You will also need a sharp knife or blade, paper towels, a thumb drill, and a bowl big enough to fit the cartridge(s).
Prepare the Cartridges
Start by using the blade to peel the label off of the cartridge carefully. Next, we will drill a hole in the top of the cartridge. Next, we will need to drill a hole in the top of the cartridge. It doesn’t really matter where you drill the hole, but I usually just go for the center. It may take a while, but make sure the hole gets drilled through all the way.
Once you’ve drilled a hole through the cartridge’s top, it’s time to fill it. Make sure you’ve got something down to prevent spilled ink or stray droplets from staining your surfaces. It’sHaving lots of paper towels on hand is also a good idea. Using the black ink bottle, insert the tip into the freshly drilled hole.
Fill the Black Cartridge
It’s important not to overfill the cartridges, as that will lead to further problems. Seven squeezes of ink will do the trick for a standard black cartridge. Since it’s a used cartridge with dry ink on the bottom, I decided it was best to be cautious and make sure to dissolve that dry ink.
You will need either a liquid cleaning agent or warm water. I highly recommend opting for the liquid cleaning agent (which you can also buy from BCHTechnologies.com), as the warm water won’t be as effective.
Into the bowl we mentioned earlier, pour enough cleaning solution to cover the entire bottom. It should be roughly ¼ of an inch deep. Place the ink cartridge in the cleaning solution, printhead-side down. Make sure that the printhead is entirely submerged, but the electronic component on the side remains dry. Exposing the electronic elements to liquid can cause a short circuit and damage beyond repair.
Prepare and Fill the Color Cartridge
While we let that soak, let’s move on to the colored cartridge. We’ll start by peeling off the cartridge’s label as we did with the black cartridge. You should be able to see three holes underneath where the label was. One hole will be toward the top, one toward the left, and one toward the right. Unlike the black cartridge, it does matter where you drill the holes in the colored cartridges.
A colored cartridge has three separate chambers, each for a different ink color. Before refilling it, you must know which color goes in which hole. Putting them in the wrong one will cause them to blend and get muddy, ruining any future colored print jobs you attempt. You’ll get some toothpicks in your ink refilling kit to make the process easier. Rather than using your powers of intuition, you can use the toothpicks to tell which color goes where. Just stick them into the new holes you drilled, and you’ll have your answer.
For the cartridge we used in the demonstration, the top hole was magenta, the left was cyan, and the right was yellow. The chambers in the colored cartridge are smaller than the ones in the black cartridge. It’s just as important, if not more so, to not overfill them. Three to five squeezes of ink per cartridge should be plenty for these. I overflowed the cyan in the demonstration because I miscounted and accidentally did six squeezes.
Clean the Colored Cartridge
After refilling the colors, that cartridge will go into the bowl and soak and dissolve off any dried ink. They should only need to be in the cleaning solution for a couple of minutes to maybe half an hour. If you chose to go against my advice and use warm water, they might need to soak for a lot longer (around an hour or so).
We only soaked it for a short time since we were only doing this process for demonstration purposes, but I felt pretty confident it would still work.
As we previously mentioned, you will find that two blue silicone pads came in the ink refilling kit. The longer one is for the black cartridge, and the shorter one is for the colored ink cartridge. Put the silicone pad at the bottom of the priming clip.
Push the cartridge into the priming clip until you feel it click. You might have to push it pretty hard to get it to lock into place. Now take the priming syringe. Insert the tip into the nozzle and use it to suck out any excess ink. You should see it flow into the syringe pretty smoothly. This will also help remove air bubbles and alleviate excess pressure. This part of the process is usually pretty messy, so be prepared.
If you feel like the syringe can easily draw the ink out of the cartridge, that almost always means it’s not sealed correctly. For this step to be effective, the printhead and cartridge must be completely sealed in the clip. You won’t have to prime the cartridge every time you refill it. Priming the cartridge and soaking it is necessary if it’s old and dry and has ink stuck to it if you want to have any chance of success.
Dry the Cleaned Cartridges
By the time the cartridges used in the demonstration had finished soaking, they both looked horrible. You’re going to have to trust the process for a bit here. When you soak the cartridges and remove them from the cleaning solution, wipe them off. Go ahead and do so on all parts of the cartridge except for the printhead. Be gentle with the electronic contact points, and ensure they are completely dry. Don’t use wiping motions on the printhead. A wiping motion can cause even more debris to get caught in it, so use a dabbing motion to dry it off instead.
Next, I put the newly refilled cartridges back into the printer to see if it would have anything to say about them. When I got to my computer, I was surprised to see no messages. I soon realized that was because the printer wasn’t online and could not send messages to my computer.
There seemed to be a poor connection, so getting the test page to print was difficult. Once we finally got it to print the test page, I was even more shocked to see that, as far as I could tell, everything worked perfectly on the first try. There was still a bit of cleanup left to do on the printhead, but that’s to be expected. This success was probably because we were working with virgin cartridges rather than ones someone had previously refilled.
Troubleshooting After the Test Print
Let’s say that you go through this process and don’t get as lucky as we did. What should you do if you don’t get a good test print on the first try?
You’ll need to take the cartridges back out of the printer, then drench a bit of paper towel in water. Wrap the cartridge in the soaked paper towel. The next part will seem a bit strange, but keep trusting the process. You’ll need your household vacuum. Turn it on and use the hose extension to suction the printhead a few times. No more than a couple of seconds at a time.
Reinsert the cartridge into the printer and test it again. 90% of the time, this will fix the problem. If it’s still not working, you could try using a high-pressure steamer to steam-bathe the printhead. If it still doesn’t work after all that, it’s time for the last resort: an ultrasonic cleaner. Make sure that the cleaner you get comes with a plastic basket in it. The cartridge should never touch the metal bottom of the cleaner during the cleaning process. Pour cleaning solution into the bottom of the sonic cleaner until the bottom of the basket is barely covered.
You should now be able to print a good test page and proceed with printing as usual until it’s time for your next refill. I hope this blog helped! For more DIY printer tips and tricks, follow me on YouTube at Kevin at BCH. Happy printing!