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6 Tips on How to Reuse Dried Up Canon Ink Cartridges

Updated on February 29, 2012


Printing using liquid ink means that Canon ink cartridges could dry up even if the cartridges themselves have not run out of ink. It could be that the nozzle has clogged up, or the ink itself has dried up. Given the (expensive) price of brand new Canon ink cartridges, you would want to squeeze every last drop of ink before you turn over the cartridges to refillers or (worse) throw them out in the trash bin. There are a handful of ways to get the Canon ink cartridges print even when they apparently run out. Here’s how.


  1. Loosen up the ink on new but unopened Canon ink cartridges by soaking the bottom end of the cartridges on warm water for two minutes. You can also add a few drops of ammonia to get the ink flowing again. This trick would only work on cartridges with copper bottoms.
  1. Use a cotton swab moistened with rubbing alcohol to chip away the dried ink on the nozzle.
  1. Use a toothpick to poke small holes on the nozzle and put a drop of rubbing alcohol to make the ink flow again.
  1. Poke through a small hole on the nozzle of the cartridge, then set a wet paper towel on top of it to draw out the ink.
  1. Utilize the cleaning cycle of the Canon ink cartridges by going to control panel>>printers>>right click on the printer>>properties>>then ‘maintenance’ or ‘cleaning’ (or, you can consult your printer manual on how the cleaning is done). Other brands offer light, intermediate and heavy cleaning, which means you would have to use a fair amount of ink to get the printer going again.
  1. Soak the clogged nozzle in warm water until the dried ink begins to flow. Then, remove nozzle from the water and dry with a soft tissue or a cotton swab. Reinstall the cartridge and run the cleaning cycle.


To minimize dealing with clogged up or dried up Canon ink cartridges, you may want to:

  • Check the expiration date of the ink. If you only have minimum printing tasks, you may want to buy replacement Canon ink cartridges that are still far from due date.
  • Buy only Canon ink cartridges that you need. It is not advisable to stock up on your ink supplies, unless you have huge printing tasks. It helps to have one or two Canon ink cartridges on hand when you have an active printer, but otherwise, it pays to buy only when prompted by the system.
  • Run your printer regularly. This may sound like a waste of ink, but you can use the printer’s cleaning facility as outlined in the manual. Canon ink cartridges can dry up with irregular use; so to get ink to flow when you have an actual printing task, you may want to regularly use the light/intermediate/heavy cleaning options built in your printer.
  • When in doubt, have your cartridges serviced by professionals. Performing repairs on the equipment on your own may void the machine’s warranty or cause some parts on the cartridges to break. Bring your empty Canon ink cartridges only to reputable refillers like Hills Toner Recycle so you get your cartridges refilled the right way.

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