I have a Canon MP 220, with new cartridges. Prints fine everything, but it won't print light magenta. I cleaned it and deep cleaned it many times. I have no idea what could be the problem. Cartridge models: CL-38 and PG-37.

Any ideas ?

LE: Now it won't print magenta at all!

  • Are you able to get another cartridge to verify if it is the cartridge or the printer? – Bobby Apr 8 '11 at 19:42
  • I thought of that, but I don't have where to get another one. It would've been very useful, but as both cartridges are new, I'm thinking the printer is the cause of the problem. – ChristianM Apr 9 '11 at 18:53

I have lately run into this problem and have found the solution to be much simpler than is advised below by the specialists.

I have simply opened up the hot water at the sink to the full at the hottest possible, and let the water run into both openings. The ink will run out, but do not stop when the ink stops running. Continue with the water for a few minutes more until a second run-out of ink occurs. Stop only when after several minutes no more ink comes out.

Finally leave the head to dry off for some hours. Using a drier to blow air into the openings may speed up the process. When the head is totally dry, replace it, and do head-alignment and print a nozzle check for verification. If the check pattern is not correct, some old and dry ink is still inside, so repeat the process.

(Old answer, see newer answer above)

From Cleaning out a Canon printhead :

Canon printers have a semi-permanent printhead. It's the 'holder' that the ink cartridges (tanks) fit into. It can be removed fairly easily. Over time, it can and does become clogged, mainly from letting the printer set without use. You need to print both black and color at least once per week in order to prevent clogging and keep the ink flowing.

Normally you can clear up minor clogs and streaking by running the cleaning cycle found in your printer's software utility. For quick access to your printer's utility (drivers): In your browser's address bar type: control panel\printers and hit 'enter' on your keyboard. This will bring up a page with your installed printer's icon. Place your mouse cursor over the printer icon and 'right-click' on it. When the dropdown menu shows, click on 'properties'. This will bring up the printer utility. Look for the 'maintenance' tab and follow the cleaning prompts.

If the cleaning cycles don't do the trick in clearing up poor and incomplete output, don't give up and assume you'll need to buy a new print head (they often cost more than a new printer!). You can try the following as it will cause no harm: (we and many others have successfully done this)

Remove the ink tanks from the printhead (tank holder) and seal them in a ziplock plastic bag. Set them aside, preferably propped upright. Next remove the print head, it snaps out. Use the kitchen or other sink and turn the water on so that it is running slowly and that it is warm. Hold the print head, bottom facing down, and cup your hand under the running water so that the water fills it up and flows into the the print head. This will flush the ink out of the printhead. You'll need to turn the print head over, bottom side up, and flush it that way as well. You'll see when there is no more ink being flushed out.

You WILL need to do a final flush/rinse with some distilled, or purified water. This ensures that any residual minerals or impurities of the tap water are flushed out of the print head. Set the print head on a paper towel to dry, drying time will vary but is LONG. TIP: To expedite the drying process, shake the printhead vigorously as there is a fair amount of water retained after rinsing!

Place the printhead (tank holder) back in the printer and reinsert the inks tanks. The printer should automatically do a print head alignment. If it doesn't, manually perform a "Printhead Alignment" through the printer's utility. Next, run the "printhead cleaning" cycle and print a nozzle check.

Here's another, similar method:

Open the lid of the printer and when the print head moves to the left, remove the cartridges (tanks). You should then be able to easily remove the print head. It has the circuitry on it and on the bottom are the outlet nozzles.

Get a small, shallow pan and lay a couple of paper towels in the bottom. Heat up (via microwave) enough purified/bottled water to cover the paper towels. Set the print head on the towels. You should see ink 'bleeding' out. Move the print head to several different spots (about a minute each spot). This will dissolve the ink clogs. Remove the print head and gently dab it dry on fresh paper towels.

Place the print head back in the printer and insert the ink tanks.Run a print head alignment and a regular cleaning followed by nozzle check and test print(s). That should do it. If not, repeat the above procedure(s).

If the above two methods don't quite do the trick, try this:

Remove the ink tanks and printhead (cartridge holder) from the printer as instructed above. Get a small bowl, dish or pan, large enough to accommodate the printhead. Lay down a layer or two of paper towels in the bottom of the container to protect the printhead circuitry from contact damage.

Make up a 50/50 mixture of ammonia and distilled water, about a pint will do. Heat the mixture up in the microwave for about a minute or so, not boiling. Slowly pour over the paper towels so that you have approximately 1/2 inch mixture total. Set the printhead (cartridge holder) into the container and pour some of the remaining mixture over the top, just enough to wet it good. Let it soak for several hours (3-4) or overnight. You can move it slightly to a different spot every hour or so.

Remove the printhead and rinse thoroughly with distilled water. Shake it dry, set it on folded paper towels to air dry. Reinsert the printhead and ink tanks. The printer should do an automatic "Printhead Alignment", if not manually do so and run a cleaning cycle or two followed by printing a nozzle check pattern to check your progress. Repeat as necessary.


while deep cleaning is useful in many situations, sometimes it dosen't help with a very badly clogged print head. I'd suggest trying to change it.

some people have reported they can clean print heads with rubbing alcohol, and a qtip, but that's something to do at your own risk.

  • Both cartridges are new! – ChristianM Apr 7 '11 at 15:24
  • 1
    what about the print head? – Journeyman Geek Apr 7 '11 at 23:20
  • The one from the printer ? – ChristianM Apr 8 '11 at 8:23
  • yes. the one in the printer - which can get clogged, sometimes beyond what deep clean can help with. – Journeyman Geek Apr 8 '11 at 9:25
  • 2
    no. water or rubbing alcohol. acetone might dissolve the material the print head is made of. – Journeyman Geek Apr 8 '11 at 9:40

HP includes print heads on their cartridges for this reason, the heads get replaced each time the cartridge is replaced.

Look for new print heads. Many larger office-supply stores should carry them near the ink.


I know this seems trivial but perhaps take out the cartridge and make sure there isn't a strip of plastic over the bottom or there isn't a plastic tab that needs to be pulled out of it.

  • 1
    I'm not that dumb. – ChristianM Apr 8 '11 at 22:12
  • CHristianM, I wasn't implying that you are dumb. Sometimes the simplest things get overlooked in haste. – 에이바 Apr 11 '11 at 1:06

I just encountered the same problem on my MP990. Turns out that it had nothing to do with the nozzle being clogged. In my case, a piece of the plastic from the protective wrap around the cartridge (i.e. that I was supposed to COMPLETELY remove before installing) had clung to the nozzle with static electricity and was blocking the head. I'm sure this is not a common issue, but worth checking before you disassemble the head.


I just had this problem on my MX922. In my case, the back of the cartridge had popped out of the slot when I clicked the front down. Because of the way it's built, it's easy not to notice, and the printer still recognizes the cartridge as present.

Should be obvious, I guess, but it's something to check before you resort to something more drastic.

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