Canon Cartridges

CLI 221 and PG 220



Ink Used

CLI -221BK


















Updated September 18, 2009

Printers: MP610, MP620, MP980, MX860, iP3600, iP4600, iP4700 and several others.

A printer number isn’t as important as the cartridge number. Use the cartridge number to find the corresponding ink you need.


The ink in this cartridge is retained because the cartridge has an internal sponge.

On the CLI-221 and PGI-220 series cartridges, there is an electronic counter embedded in a small computer chip/board. This counter starts at a high number and decreases for every character printed. Eventually, the counter reaches zero. At this point, an error message is generated by the printer. If you click "OK" to the error message, the printer will continue to print. However, the ink level display will not show correctly with that cartridge. But that is something we have to live with. For most people, it is a small price to pay for a vastly lowered cost of printing.

On some Canon printers, simply click through the error message and the various warnings. The printer should then print fine. Notice that you will need to do this again when the other cartridges run out of ink.

On other Canon printers, hold the RESUME or RESET button for about 10-15 seconds. This should reset the printer so that it will print with the refilled cartridge.

On still other Canon printers, do the following:

  • Turn off printer
  • Hold RESUME button then press and hold POWER until it BEEPs.
  • Hold POWER and release RESUME
  • Press RESUME twice
  • Release POWER button
  • When the indicator light is steady, press RESUME three (3) times. The indicator should be orange.
  • Press POWER to set data
    • It is important to avoid air bubbles from forming in the lower sponge.
    • It is important is that the seal be air-tight when you finish -- otherwise you'll have a slow leak.
    • This cartridge does not have a print head -- only an ink reservoir.
    • This cartridge can be refilled typically 8 to 12 times.

Required Supplies and Tools

You will need the following:

*Protection for your clothes and work area.

*Latex or latex free gloves –optional for hand protection against spills

*Syringe for putting ink into the cartridge

* Black vinyl electrical tape 

*1/16 drill or large paper clip that has been straightened.

* Source for heating paper clip (if using instead of drill)



Step #1 Follow standard refilling precautions: work in a protected area, wear old clothes, and work over or near a sink. Protect hands with latex or latex free gloves. Always remember: ink stains. Permanently!


Step #2 Securely place black vinyl electrical tape over the outlet port.


Step #3 Peel back the label.


Step #4 Look for the dimple just below the hole with the ball in it.

          You will use the dimple to refill through. DO NOT remove the ball.


Step #5 Make a hole in the dimple. You can either drill or melt with a hot paper clip.


Step #6 Slowly inject the ink into the hole. The black holds approx 9ml. The color holds approx 4ml.


Step #7 Seal the hole using a set screw or hot glue.


Step #8 Remove the tape from the outlet port.   


Step #9 Return it to the printer and run a couple of cleaning cycles to stabilize it.


If it Leaks

The most likely problem is that the seal over the fill hole is not air-tight. Check this seal. Also check for small cracks in the plastic.

If it Won't Print

The most likely cause is an air bubble trapped in the sponge, or between the sponge and the print head. Remove the air bubble and you'll probably fix the problem. Remember: an air bubble is another name for "lack of ink".

Another cause can be froth forming in the sponge. This froth is a collection of hundreds of tiny bubbles of air which forms when a small bit of ink is left behind in each sponge cell. When you refill, this froth may move into the print head and form a vapor lock situation.

To cure either big air bubbles or froth, simply put a single drop of isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol on the sponge through the ink exit hole, ideally before refilling. (Any concentration of the alcohol from 70 percent to 100 percent is fine.) The alcohol will collapse the air bubbles and allow for normal printing most of the time.

To Clean the Print head

Do not clean the print head unless you get poor print quality.

Follow the directions in the printer manual.

Run the print head cleaning software.

Common Clogs

This printer is a sponge-filled cartridge. Because of this, it is susceptible to a common problem: Froth.

When you use ink from a sponge-filled cartridge, a little bit of ink remains in each cell of the sponge. Later you add ink to the sponge and air is trapped in some of the sponge cells. When you print, this air/ink mixture, which we call "froth", begins to move as a mass of tiny ink-coated bubbles down into the print head this is where the trouble begins. . The print head cannot print something which is mostly air -- it needs ink. Thus, the print head vapor locks on the froth and appears to be "clogged".

To fix the problem, simply put a single drop of isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol on the sponge through the ink exit hole, ideally before refilling. (Any concentration of the alcohol from 70 percent to 100 percent is fine.) The alcohol will collapse the air bubbles and allow for normal printing most of the time.

For a real dried-ink clog, unplug the printer from both the wall and the computer, and clean the cartridge or print head with plain, ordinary warm water. The ink will dissolve quite well in water. Unlike ball-point pen ink, this ink will not dissolve well in alcohol or paint thinner. Use ordinary warm tap water to clean this ink. Be sure to dry electronics completely before applying power.

To Clean Your Sink

The ink is water-soluble. Use plenty of soap and warm water. You may also need to use Comet or a similar cleaner if the stains persist.

To Clean Your Hands

On hands, the best substance to use is Ink Be GoneTM, a specially developed hand cleaner available from ACSI Bulk Inks. (To place an order, Click Here.)

To Place An Ink Order

You can telephone us at 1-888-728-2465 (USA Toll free) or 1+740-374-9949. You can also Order Online or by other ways including by Fax, or by Postal Mail, or by EMAIL.

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