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How to Clean a Fountain Pen?


Owning a fountain pen seems fancy until you realize that it requires much more maintenance than any other type of pen. It needs to be taken care of and thus cleaned regularly to work well as your writing companion. If you don’t, even the fanciest and most expensive fountain pen won’t last that long.

Periodic cleaning is best to keep your fountain pens working at their best capacity. When you notice that your fountain pen’s writing is very streaky or has started skipping, it’s time to disassemble that pen and get to cleaning.

But how to clean a fountain pens? In this article, we will be running down the steps to maintaining and cleaning a fountain pen.

Tools You’ll Need

The tools you need to clean your fountain pen include a glass cup that you don’t mind getting dirty, water, some paper towels or tissue, and an optional tool would be a syringe or a pipette to flush the pen out.

How to Clean Your Fountain Pen

With the tools mentioned, you can start to do some basic cleaning which is best done every few weeks even if your pen is still writing smoothly. To do some basic cleaning, here are the few steps:

1. Take your pen apart

You’ll want to start by disassembling the different parts of the pen by taking off the cap and unscrewing the different parts.

If the pen has an ink cartridge or contains a converter, remove this before going ahead with the other steps.

2. Run it down with water

You can run down the nib area with some water before soaking it to remove any easily removable ink stuck on the surface and make cleaning easier.

3. Soak it in a glass cup with water

After rinsing it with water, you can soak the nib area for a few minutes and wait for the more stubborn and dried out ink to diffuse out in the water. You can replace the water in the cup with a fresh one once it becomes fully mixed in and saturated with ink.

Repeat this step until the water comes out clean after the nib area has been soaked in for a while. Be patient as this can take numerous tries as some ink have more pigment and take longer to be removed than others.

4. Dry the soaked sections

After the nib area has been cleaned with water thoroughly, it’s time to dry it out. It’s important to completely dry it out before assembling it and using it with ink as the water may remain in some areas.

Waiting for a period of 24 hours or more is best. To dry it out, you can first pat it dry with some paper towels, and then leave it wrapped in one after.

5. Assemble it back together

After completely drying out the parts that you cleaned with water, you can now reassemble your fountain pen and continue using it.

Flushing Your Pen

If your pen requires more than just basic cleaning, you can try flushing it out to have it working properly again, here are the steps to flush out your pen:

1. Basic cleaning

You can start again by disassembling the pen into its different parts and soaking the nib area just like in basic cleaning.

2. Flush the barrel

The fountain pen will have a barrel that contains the ink to be dispensed. You can fill this up with water and rinse it out until it runs clear without ink.

You can also flush it out more quickly with accessories like a syringe or a pipette that will effectively push the water out more.

3. Place the nib area back

You can place the nib and fill the barrel with water to push water out of the nib just as the ink would go out. Repeat until no ink comes out and only clear water does. This ensures that no ink has been left in any parts.

4. Soak the nib area

Just like in basic cleaning, soak the nib in some water to make sure that no dried ink is stuck to any parts of it.

5. Dry any wet sections and assemble

After washing out the different parts, you’ll want to pat dry and leave it out for a few hours to make sure it’s dry before refilling with ink and assembling. You can then put the pen back together, and use it again.

Frequently Asked Questions


What You’ll Need To Clean a Fountain Pen?

You don’t need much to clean your fountain pens. Having a glass cup, water, and some paper towels is enough to get the cleaning process started.

However, if you want to go a step further and invest in special cleaning products for your pens, there are special fountain pen cleaning kits that you can buy online. These kits can include specialized items and accessories like a syringe or a pipette that allows you to flush the pen efficiently.

When Should I Clean a Fountain Pen?

If you noticed that your fountain pen hasn’t been working as well as it was, then it might be time to get it cleaned. If the ink isn’t flowing down smoothly, there is inconsistency in the ink writing. And if it starts to scratch on paper, or even stops working sometimes, then there could be a build-up in the nib that needs to be cleaned out.

The fountain pens should also be cleaned and washed out when you intend to switch inks from different types or different colors. This is so that the ink colors don’t mix or to ensure that different types or brands of ink won’t react with each other.

Why Do You Need to Clean Fountain Pens?

Unlike other pens that don’t need much maintenance, fountain pens are special. The pen works by having the ink flow through the tube and into the slit found in the nib or the tip of the pen. But over time, debris such as dried ink, paper, dust, and dirt can end up stuck in the nib which doesn’t allow the ink to flow through it, disrupting its function.

If you’ve noticed a decline in the performance of your pen, then it might be a sign that it’s time to get it cleaned. You also need to clean it if you want to change inks so that different colors and formulas don’t mix.

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How Often Do Fountain Pens Need To Be Cleaned?

Since there are different types and tiers of cleaning, knowing when to do each to your pen is best. Typically, your pens should be cleaned from 4 to up to 8 weeks, even if they seem to be working perfectly still.  You should do some basic cleaning every few weeks when your pen is still working fine and you don’t need to change the ink.

You should flush the pen when the writing is already very streaky or is barely dispensing any ink. And lastly, you should clean the nib of the pen when you want to clean your pen thoroughly.

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