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How to fix Error 46 on Brother printers

To fix error 46 you have to reset the purge counter.

  • Enter machine maintenance mode (on MFC210C all four photo/copy/fax/scan lights flash in maintenance mode).
  • FAX models with numerical keypads: Press the Menu/Set, *, 2, 8, 6 and 4 keys within two seconds. (if you fail to complete the correct key sequence within two seconds, press the Stop key to try again).
  • Other (non-FAX) models: Press the Menu/Set and Black Start keys. Next press the “up arrow” key four times to enter the maintenance mode).
  • Press the 8 then 0 keys in the initial stage of the maintenance mode to call up the machine's log information list (function code 80).
  • Press the Black Start key several times to scroll through the log information list to reach the purge counter.
  • Press the 2, 7, 8, and 3 keys in this order to reset the purge count to zero.
  • Press the Stop/Exit key to return to the initial stage of the maintenance mode.
  • Press the 9 key twice to return to the standby state.

If you want to replace the absorber box:


Sean Miller said…
Following these steps without replacing the actual ink absorbers inside the machine may result in ink overflowing the absorber box and running out of the machine.

Brother put the counter there for a reason.
LEH said…
Hi Sean,

You're right... and wrong: the counter is a security to evoid the absorber box to be too full. This could damage the printer.
In reality, it could appears in 5% of the cases.

I've adding the part number of the Absorber box in the post.

Thanks for you comment.
MostllyLost said…
Wow, worked like a champ, you guys are the best.
Thanks a million
Unknown said…
Thanks guys
I was really worried for my Brother MFC-295CN printer which suddenly started giving error Unable Clean 46 error. No help from any vendor n the mechanic asked for fortunes to repair. But your advise worked like a charm and in just 2 minutes the printer was working like a new one. Tnx a million
Anonymous said…
This is awesome! We are a non-profit and this was a donated machine. So old no longer under any kind of warranty. This saved us tons of money! I fixed it and we don't have to buy a new one. (My boss was impressed, too!)
Anonymous said…
Works on the 2nd attempt with my mfc425cn. On the 1st one I couldn't enter maintenance mode. For the 2nd , instead of the soft power key I used ... the plug. Excellent, thanks a lot.
Anonymous said…
worked great. Brother couldn't help me without charging me. And such a simple fix.
Thank you.
GP49 said…
Unfortunately on my Brother MFC-J470DW, these procedures to put the machine into Maintenance mode do not work. Either pushing and holding the MENU button while plugging the machine into power, or pushing the MENU button and * 2 8 6 4 only put the machine into its "normal" MENU function.

Maybe Brother didn't want to lose sales of the ink absorbers, and would rather we throw out our printers instead. Does anyone the procedure for this model?

The process DID work on my older Brother, an MFC-290C.
J.Lassalle said…
Hi GP49,

Try this:
Unknown said…
It worked for my printer, and I am very grateful. I would like to replace the ink absorber also, just in case. I can buy it from Amazon for $30, but I need to know if it is user replaceable for someone with modest mechanical skills. I have changed printheads and done other replairs, but this is a new adventure for me.
Thanks for any advice anyone can give me.
J.Lassalle said…
Hi Sandra,

What is the model of your printer ?
Unknown said…
Jann, my printer is the MFC3360C It is the multifunction Printer-scanner-fax. I followed the instructions for the type of machine that gets into Maintenance Mode by holding down the Menu button while turning the power button off then on. My printer does not have a power cord that detatches from the body of the printer, so I could not use those instrutions. I have it plugged into a power distribution panel, so I tried that method of "off" the "on" but nothing worked until I held down the Menu button.

From there, once in Maintenance Mode, I hit 80 then "start" many times and finally got to "Purge". Once there, I hit 2783 and then STOP and 99 to exit Maintenance Mode. All of that worked and my purge counter was reset to "zero".

Then I took several sheets of paper towels and manually tried to absorb as much ink from the ink absorber as I could (I got quite a bit) but I don't mind replacing the ink absorber unit, to prevent ink spilling out. if I can do it myself, I will. If it is too complicated, I will try calling around to see if I can find someone who will do it, but I tried to find maintenence for a previous MFC unit and the only one willing to do the job (replace the print head) wanted more than I had paid for the machine! I would appreciate any help you can give me!!!and thanks for the reply
J.Lassalle said…
Hi Sandra,

Replacing the ink aborber is not really necessary. Absorbing the waste ink with sheets of paper towels is all you need to do.

But, if you want to replace the ink absorber felt, the part number is LP1233001.
Unknown said…
thanks for all your help!!
Aba said…
Please i want to know how can i make a deep head cleaning for my printer (brother mfc-j470dw)
With regards
Anonymous said…
LEGENDARY! It worked!!! Thanks so much :-)
Anonymous said…
I have a model MFC-685CW model with error 50..unable to clean. How do I fix this issue? Thank you for any help you can give me!!
J.Lassalle said…

For error 50, try this:

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