How To Clean & Care For Your Fountain Pen

A good, high quality fountain pen deserves a degree of care and attention, and this involves cleaning. We’ve put together a step by step guide on how to clean all elements of your fountain pen, including how to dry it properly and what to use when cleaning. There are certain things that will damage your pen so make sure you follow our specialist instructions to ensure your pen stays in tip top condition.

When Should You Clean Your Fountain Pen?

It’s important to clean your fountain pen regularly to ensure the ink flows smoothly and reliably. You should clean your fountain pen every two to three weeks, or sooner if you use your pen more regularly and need to change ink before. Generally, the rule of thumb is to clean your fountain pen whenever you change your ink, especially if you plan on using a different ink colour, or clean it if you don’t plan on using your pen for a while. It’s important to clean your pen before storing it to ensure your ink doesn’t dry up.

How To Clean Your Fountain Pen

Below you will find a step by step guide on how to clean various elements of your fountain pen, including the pen converter and the nib.

What To Clean Your Pen With

Cleaning your pen is fairly easy, you will only need water and kitchen roll. There are a few things to know about what you cannot clean your pen with however. Warm water is not recommended as this can damage the inner parts of your fountain pen nib. Tap water works ok for cleaning a pen and doesn’t normally cause too many issues but water with a high mineral content can affect the ink flow drying up ink quicker than you’d like. You can buy specialist cleaning solutions for your fountain but if your fountain pen is really clogged up with ink and you need something other than water to shift it, you could add a teaspoon of household ammonia or vinegar to the water when soaking the nib and this will work just as well. Ammonia can corrode some metals however so if your pen is made from brass, aluminium or copper, it’s not recommended you use this.

When drying your fountain pen we recommend soft kitchen roll or a cloth. Paper towels can scratch the nib but kitchen roll is softer. When buffing your fountain pen, glasses cloths work really well.

How To Clean Your Fountain Pen Nib

  • 1. Disassemble your fountain pen. The extent to which you do this will depend on the type of pen you have. Unscrew the nib section from the barrel of the pen and you should have your nib, feed and nib collar all in one. Some pen nibs can be removed from the feed and some nib collars can also be removed too. You don’t have to take them apart, you can clean the nib altogether. If you do decide you want to remove the nib from the feed, most can simply be removed by pulling them apart. Make sure you know your nib can be removed before trying this. You don’t want to break your pen, especially when you can clean this properly without removing anyway. You may also want to check whether separating these parts will affect your manufacturer’s warranty also.
  • 2. Remove the ink from the pen. If your fountain pen has dried out you can just throw the ink cartridge away. If your ink cartridge is relatively full however, stand the cartridge upright and stick a little tape on the end to stop it drying out while not in use.
  • 3. Run the tap and rinse the nib section for a few seconds – this will easily remove any excess ink. Remember do not use hot water when cleaning your fountain pen however as it may alter or damage the inside of your nib.
  • 4. After a quick rinse, fill a small cup or glass of water and hold your nib inside to soak. Make sure the water level completely covers the nib section in order to clean it thoroughly. Filtered water is preferable but tap water will do the job more or less the same. Minerals from tap water can block your air feed which is why filtered water is recommended.
  • 5. Let the nib soak in the water for about 15 minutes. Empty the glass of water, fill again with clean, clear water. Insert your nib into the water and repeat until the water remains clear.
  • 6. Once your nib is clean, dab dry with some kitchen roll or a small soft cloth. Then put your pen to dry for several hours.
  • 7. Once it’s dry, reassemble the pen and either store it or use it.

Cleaning The Pen Converter/Flushing Your Fountain Pen

If you use a pen converter you will need to give your pen a deeper clean.

Disassemble your pen as you normally would but put the nib to one side. You will need to rinse the nib at some point as you did above.

Fill a glass of water and place the open converter inside until it draws out all the ink. Once it’s clean reattach it to the nib, you will clean them both, thoroughly, together.

Fill another glass of clean water. Use cold or room temperature water and remember filtered water is preferable. Just as you do when you fill up your pen with ink, turn the converter so it picks up water in the container. Cycle this in and out consistently until the pen is clean. If the water discolours with ink remnants, clean the glass out and put in fresh water. When you see no more ink in the water, then you are ready to dry it. Only once completely dry should you reassemble your pen.

If you want to flush your fountain pen nib of any ink you can also try the empty cartridge method for cleaning your pen. Buy a syringe from your local pharmacy and insert a clean, empty cartridge on the end of it. Push the top of the syringe down and this will draw out any excess ink. You will still need to rinse the nib and soak it using the cleaning method above, but it may help clean the pen more quickly.

How To Dry Your Fountain Pen

It can take quite a while for your fountain pen to properly dry. We advise leaving it to try thoroughly for 24 hours but you may be able to start using it after 12 hours depending on the type of pen you have. Get a small, clean and empty glass or cup and insert a folded piece of kitchen roll into the bottom. Fold your kitchen roll around the bottom of the cup, ideally it should have two layers on the bottom. Put your nib on the top of the tissue upside down, in the same position it would be in if you were writing, and let it rest against the cup so it maintains this position. Leave here to dry. You may want to change the kitchen roll after a while if it is soaked.