Question about Canon PIXMA iP4200 InkJet Photo Printer

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Canon PIXMA iP4200 - not printing in colours

None of the colours print on my documents. The black one prints fine. I use refilled cartiges, I've reseted the printer. Suddenly all the colours disappeared. I've washed the printhead, to be sure it isn't cogged. Did I distroyed it? What should I do next?

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  • kARMi Jan 10, 2008

    Guru wrote: "...since you washed it most likely it is ruined"

    What I did, I didn't figure out by myself. Here is the advice I followed to clean the clogged printhead (

    Cleaning a Clogged Printhead
    This guide is written specifically for the Canon PIXMA series printers which use the BCI-6 cartridges. It should, however, also be appropriate to any removable printhead of the same type. If you are at the point where you are going to replace it anyway, give it a try. At the worst, you will ruin a printhead that was being discarded anyway.


    (You can skip this section and jump right to the basic cleaning process if you like)I mentioned this method of unclogging a printhead in my Review of the Canon iP6000D and promised to write a guide with details, but I hadn't gotten around to it until now. However, I've had so many inquiries wanting the process I finally wrote a draft to send out, and this Guide is based on that with a few additions. I've answered at least a couple of dozen emails, and everyone who wrote back, about half, had a positive experience. So even if this did not work for all the rest, it would have a 50% success rate, and I'd guess much higher. I've unclogged three different types, all three Canon and using either the BCI-6 or the CLI-8 cartridge. So that's a total of six or seven cleanings, and one way or another I've been able to clear the clogged inkjet on all or them. I've noticed that CLI-8 inkjet carriage (the part you clean) has a more extensive printed circuit board on it that you might want to be careful with. These printers try to foil refillers by including a circuit on each cartridge that not only tells the printer when it's empty, but also if it's been refilled and reinstalled. The printer manufacturers haven't yet included the technology to completely shut down the printer if you install a refilled cartridge, but I'm sure it's not because it's unavailable. That is probably coming, but of course there will be a way to defeat that too. Right now, the PIXMA iP4200, using the CLI-8 just annoys you everytime you print with what amounts to a scolding for using a refilled cartridge... and then gives you a work-around to stop the scolding but reminds you that they will continue to punish you by showing your refilled cartridge as empty everytime you print. There's probably too much competition in the printer market, and too much profit in selling a dimes worth of ink for $15.00, for them to ever make you jump through hoops like the big software manufacturers are starting to do to fight copyright infringement, and lets hope it stays that way. Anyway, that's a subject for another time, and you came to learn how to unclog your printhead, right. See my Guide on refilling your inkjet cartridges and save a bundle!


    First, remove the ink cartridges from the carriage and seal the orifice where the ink is released on each. You are sealing them from drying out, not leaking, so you can just place a strip of cellophane tape over the hole and sit them tape side up, so that the ink won’t run out. (Or simply wrap them all in a damp cloth... one that you plan to discard. The ink will leach out onto anything that it touches.)

    Second, raise the mechanism that holds the printhead and ink cartridges in place and remove the entire printhead from the printer. Run hot water over the printhead until it runs clear. This may take a few minutes, because you have to rinse all the colors out, not just the one (usually black) that is not printing. If you don’t rinse them all well, you will have a rainbow of colored water getting all over everything. Place the printhead in hot water and let it soak for half an hour or so. Then, concentrating on the clogged passage or passages, try to force the hot water into the opening that the ink flows into. You can do this by holding it under the faucet and using water pressure if you don’t have any other way. I used a large plastic syringe (like a turkey baster) that came with my ink cartridge refill kit. Without the needle attached, it’s tip is about the same size as the opening in the printhead, and I got a lot of pressure on it by holding it tight and pushing hard on the syringe, forcing the water through. If you get more color out, you know that you are doing good. Keep it up until there’s no color. Then let the printhead drain for a few minutes and dry it off, but don’t let it dry out... blow as much water as possible from the ink passages or your first prints will be watery... I used canned compressed air that’s sold at computer stores and it worked pretty well. A compressor at 10-20 psi works better.

    After they are reasonably dry, replace the ink cartridges and print. It may take a page or two to get the ink flowing. If it works, print something using a lot of black ink (or the color that was clogged) to run some ink through it. The ink itself flowing through the inkjet seems to help dissolve and dissipate any remaining dried ink particles and help keep the path free of clogs. Print something every day for a few days, and try not to go over a week or two without printing something. I have most of my clogged printhead problems when I go extended times between printing. I have a Xerox laser printer for black and white printing, so I sometimes go too long between prints with the Canon, and when I do print from it, I use less black ink than any other. It has always been my black ink passage that clogs.

    It’s really not as hard as it may sound. Each time you clean your printhead, it gets a little easier and you get a little faster... I can do a basic cleaning in about 10 minutes if I skip the soak process, and it usually works just as well.

    If the above basic cleaning does not work you may have to get more serious about it.


    Follow the above procedure, but after you dry the printhead, blow out the ink passage that's clogged, put a few drops of solvent in it and let it set 10 minutes. The solvent will evaporate fast, so add some every minute or so to make sure it doesn’t dry out. Then try to force some of the solvent through the ink passage using whatever you have... a straw and lung-power if nothing else... but you need to force it through in order to get past the clog and dislodge any ink particles that may not have dissolved. Leave it a couple of hours in a closed container of solvent if necessary. The solvent I first used came with my ink refill kit, I think it was for cleaning up ink. However, any non-petroleum based fluid that’s not too strong should work. Alcohol or something that evaporates fast. I used 180 proof Everclear once, and it worked fine. Acetone may melt plastic, so I don’t recommend lacquer thinner or the like.

    I’ve used all of the above methods in every combination over the past few years and I’ve never failed to clear the clog... eventually, using one of these methods. If you ever have to replace the printhead, when you see the cost you’ll see why it’s worth all the trouble to fix your old one..

    Feel free to let me know if these methods work for you, and any variations you may come up with, and I'll update my review with the best methods and any innovations.

    Good luck.

    Joe L.
    Houston, TX

  • Anonymous Feb 08, 2009

    Same problem and the head cleaning fix worked. I've been refilling my cartridges for the past year without any problems, however recently the cyan stopped printing. Head cleaning in the machine didn't work, so I followed Karmi's warm water process and used a baster to force water into the ink inlets. I didn't have to soak it, just cleaned it thoroughly, then shook it dry and used the baster again to blow the ink inlets dry. Voila! All colors now work and I'm a happy camper again.


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Hi i am a Canon certified tech for this machine.the orignal problem you had most likely was not your printhead but since you washed it most likely it is ruined. the problem most likely is the purge unit. the purge unit is the unit to the far right of the machine. this unit cleans and purges ink from the ink tanks to the printhead. to do this it uses 2 pads one for black and one for color. these pads can be flushed with water to soften up any ink. i would also replace the printhead which can be ordered by calling 1-800-OK-CANON or by going to their website. one other tip, refilled ink cartridges cause more clogging of printheads and purge unit then OEM ink. this is because the ink is thicker then the OEM ink. hope this helps to clairify.

Posted on Jan 05, 2008

  • Leighe Seier
    Leighe Seier Jan 24, 2016

    So how do you get to the waste ink pad to clean or replace it?


Just did this and had to soak in white spirit and push spirit through with a syringe to clear it. Thanks for the advice

Posted on Jun 23, 2008

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Mater478, you say the purge unit can be flushed with water - how?
I can see the pads (they both look black but guess this is due to the mix of colours) but you do not say how to remove the pads/unit.

if you don't remove them, short of dunking the whole printer under water you would not be able to flush the unit.

Posted on Jun 15, 2008

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Solved the problem definitely by buying an HP printer. Done with Canon.

Posted on Dec 22, 2012

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