Question about Brother MFC 210C All-In-One InkJet Printer

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Brother MFC-210C keeps displaying unable to clean messasge

I have followed the user manual, but it keeps saying the same message. is it broken or is there somthing else I could do to get it printing again? Thank you

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  • rudy2toot Jan 11, 2009

    MFC-210C
    I removed the sponge and cleaned under the tap, replaced and reset the purge count as advised. Good news: I didn't tear anything up. Bad news: It did not fix the problem.

  • audit118 Jan 18, 2009

    I have an MFC410CN. Got the error 46 so have replaced the prge box. Then Followed the aboe solution The purge counter has reset to zero. But I still get the unable to clean message. Check the error code and it still says error code 46

  • frero Feb 22, 2009

    unable to unit

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Hi I found this on your website for this problem, from Poster "Trickydicky": Rank: Apprentice
Rating: 96%, 81 votes

Here is the answer to the Machine Error 46 (have just fixed my own MFC210C): I havent tried it yet but there were many recommendations from users who did and they recommend this solution- Good Luck the service centers said it would be $70.00 just to check it before any work is done. But if it's just a matter of pressing series of buttons to reset the cleaning counter, it's worth trying. REE


Machine Error 46 – Purged Ink Box Full MFC620CN/420CN/410CN/210C and FAX2440C

The machine counts all purge (cleaning) operations in order to prevent the internal ink absorber box from overflowing with purged ink. An “initial purge”, for example, advances the purge counter by 187 + 420 = 607. When the purge counter approaches 6400, an internal "Machine Error 46" is generated. Further purge operations are prohibited, and therefore the printer becomes unuseable.

When an internal Machine Error 46 is generated, the user will see an “Unable to Clean” external message and will be unable to use the printer. The “Unable to Clean” external message can relate to many different internal error codes however.

The user can establish the internal Machine Error Code as follows: pull the mains cable out of the machine (power off), hold down the Menu/Set key, re-insert the mains cable into the machine (power on). The internal Machine Error Code will be displayed.

If there is a Machine Error 46, it is necessary to dismantle the printer, replace the ink absorber box (or possibly break the ink absorber box open and clean its absorbent sponges under a tap), re-assemble the printer and reset the purge counter to zero.


Resetting purge counter MFC620CN/420CN/410CN/210C and FAX2440C

1) Enter machine maintenance mode (on MFC210C all four photo/copy/fax/scan lights flash in maintenance mode). Care is needed in maintenance mode, otherwise critical settings may be inadvertently corrupted.

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).

2) 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).

3) Press the Black Start key several times to scroll through the log information list to reach the purge counter. The purge counter is the 25th item in the list.

4) Press the 2, 7, 8, and 3 keys in this order to reset the purge count to zero.

5) Press the Stop/Exit key to return to the initial stage of the maintenance mode.

6) Press the 9 key twice to return to the standby state.

Carry on printing !!

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Posted on Dec 02, 2008

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  • Sarah Chapman Mar 01, 2012

    thanks so much, it worked :)

  • Donald Squier May 14, 2012

    I have not been this happy since I lost my Virginity! Thank you very much! This worked without changing the ink purge box. Had it all apart and still some absorbent material left. Thought the problem was the print head jambed to the right....Now to see if the purge box is still available, or empty it and fill with something else.

  • kulovac
    kulovac Jan 23, 2013

    Thank you.It worked for me.

  • skt171
    skt171 Apr 09, 2013

    As advertised! Thanks so much.

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YES, it worked! Not the remove & clean the sponges part, I would have probably bought a new printer before doing that. But I followed the step-by-step instructions that followed to reset the purge counter, & I'm printing as I type.

Posted on Feb 20, 2009

  • kentandsig Oct 30, 2010

    I thought my printer was headed for the junk pile: this routine fixed it! Where do you go to find these routines? Ps: I just purchased $50 worth of ink before the printer gave up: I hope it lasts long enough to use all of it.

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1 Answer

Brother MFC 210C printer unable to clean print head. How can I clean it manually? The inkjet cartridges are full but the printer does not print. Error message on display: unable to clean.


If your printer is like the 420CN Model, do not forget to disconnect the printer for resetting purposes and connect it again and it may clean properly and run fine. Good luck! hopes it work. It did for me. My printer is working fine and I like it. It does the work.

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If there is no jam it is generally a mechanical issue such as...

1. The planetary arm assembly not engaged correctly
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I find that if there was a paper jam, and the user pulled the paper out, option 4 is most likely. It is the smallest of cracks but ruins everything!


You will need to contact your local ASC for repair, find it here.

Thank you for using FixYa! – Don’t forget to rate our service.

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Screen says


If there is no jam it is generally a mechanical issue such as...

1. The planetary arm assembly not engaged correctly
2. Ink cartridge/purge switch harness not connected correctly
3. Purge cam switch broken
4. Gear(s) on maintenance unit broken
5. Paper feed motor broken
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I find that if there was a paper jam, and the user pulled the paper out, option 4 is most likely. It is the smallest of cracks but ruins everything! You will need to see an authorized service center for repair.

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Heres the mauel for the MFC-210C printer.

http://www.brother-usa.com/manuals/default.aspx?PRODUCTID=MFC210C&ProductGroupID=5

You can clean the outside of the printer and the paper handling mechanisms with a mild cleaning solution and a lint free cloth. To clean the insdie of the printer, use a HEPA vacuem and follow the manuels recommendations.

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if you go through this link, click on brother, enter your model number, then you'll be brought to driver page. On that page is usually a user manual, as well.

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