Brother Toner Smudging Issues [Reasons & Solutions]


Quick Review:

The primary cause of toner smudging in Brother printers is the drum unit.  Regular cleaning of the drum can be beneficial, and if that doesn't resolve the issue, replacing the drum may be necessary.

Beyond the drum unit, there are additional factors that can contribute to smudging:

  • Non-Genuine Toners: Using genuine Brother cartridges can help reduce the risk of toner smudging, which is more common with non-original toners.
  • Fuser Problems: If the fuser is faulty or its settings are incorrect for the paper type, it may need adjustment or replacement.
  • Improper Storage: Store printing supplies in a cool, dry place to avoid moisture, which can affect toner behavior and paper quality.
  • Paper Type: Make sure the paper is suitable for your printer and the print job.

Common Reasons for Toner Smudging

When using Brother printers, it's not unusual to come across toner smudging on paper. 

This issue usually stems from specific, identifiable causes, for which there are practical solutions available.

Dirty or Worn Drum Unit

Cause: For toner smudging, one of the main reasons can be attributed to the drum unit, as it transfers toner to paper. As time passes, it's common for the drum unit to gather toner dust and debris or to incur surface scratches. Such conditions can lead to uneven print quality and result in smudging.

Solution: To solve toner smudging issues, keeping the drum unit clean is essential. To clean your printer's drum unit, follow these steps:

  • Turn off and unplug the printer first.
  • Then, open the printer and remove the drum unit and toner cartridge assembly.
  • Separate the toner cartridge from the drum unit.
  • Inspect the drum for any spots. 
  • If you find any, gently wipe them with a lint-free cloth moistened with isopropyl alcohol, rotating the drum to access the whole area.
  • Also, clean the primary corona wire by sliding its green tab back and forth several times.
  • Reassemble everything and power on the printer to test.

If cleaning doesn't improve print quality or if the drum is visibly damaged,  replacing the drum unit might be necessary.

Low-Quality or Damaged Toner Cartridge

Cause: The core of many printing issues lies in the toner cartridge. Damage to the cartridge or natural degradation over time can lead to uneven toner distribution on the page, resulting in smudging.

Solution: Always opt for genuine Brother cartridges designed for your specific printer model. Third-party or refilled cartridges, though potentially cost-saving, may not undergo the rigorous quality control of genuine cartridges, potentially resulting in inconsistent print quality and various other complications.

Fuser Unit Issues

Cause: The fuser unit's role is to bond the toner to the paper through heat. If the fuser is not heating correctly or if it's damaged, it can lead to toner not adhering properly, resulting in smudging.

Solution: Inspect the fuser unit for signs of wear or damage. If parts of the fuser unit appear worn or are not functioning correctly, they should be replaced. Additionally, verify that the fuser's temperature settings align with the type of paper in use, since incorrect settings might contribute to smudging.

How To Replace Fuser Unit in Brother Laser Printers

Incorrect Paper Type or Quality

Cause: The type and quality of paper used in printing significantly impact the final output. Incompatible or low-grade paper can absorb toner unevenly, leading to smudges.

Solution: Refer to your printer's manual to identify the recommended paper types, including weight and finish. Opt for higher-quality paper that has a smooth surface and is designed for laser printers, as this will better retain the toner and prevent smudging.

Environmental Factors

Cause: Humidity and temperature levels in your printing environment can affect toner adhesion.

Solution: Maintain your printing environment within the recommended humidity levels (40-60%) and temperature ranges (60-75°F) to promote optimal printer performance and print quality. Store paper in a dry, cool place to avoid moisture absorption, which can greatly decrease the chances of toner smudging.

Note: Although Brother toner cartridges are known for their longevity, it's recommended not to store them for extended periods without use. Over time, even unused toner can lead to smudging, and replacing the cartridge might be necessary to fix this issue.


Following these steps and addressing the specific cause of toner smudging in your Brother printer will help you improve print quality and enjoy clear, smudge-free documents.

If the issue persists after attempting these solutions, consider contacting Brother customer support or a professional technician for further assistance.


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