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Article: How To Clean a Fountain Pen Nib

How To Clean a Fountain Pen Nib

How To Clean a Fountain Pen Nib

How To Clean a Fountain Pen Nib
A Clean Fountain Pen Nib

Why Clean A Fountain Pen?

If you want to keep your pen writing smoothly for the long term, you need to clean it. And, it isn't as difficult or time-consuming as it sounds. It doesn't require any special tools, either. All you need is running tap water and a towel. If you write with different colors regularly, you should clean your pen before each use. Through this article, you will learn how to clean a fountain pen nib.

When do you need to clean a fountain pen?

Cleaning your pen is an essential step in maintaining a high-quality fountain pen. Regular cleaning ensures smooth flowing ink. You want to make sure that your pen is always ready to write when you need it. There are several ways to clean your fountain pen. You may simply wipe off any excess ink or dirt with a soft cloth. Or you could soak your pen in water, then let it dry completely before storing it away.

For more advanced users, there are also specialty cleaners available. These products come in different forms, such as liquids or powders. You may even be able to buy a pen cleaner kit online. All of these options offer many benefits, but you must choose the right tool for the job.

Equipment for Cleaning

You should prepare everything you will need before starting the process. Use cotton swabs, because they won't scratch the nib. Make sure to soak them in warm water before using them. Use paper towels to soak up the excess water from the ink. Don't put the swabs directly into the barrel, but soak them first. This will help prevent scratching the barrel.

A syringe should flush out the water in the pen. It is also used to inject water into the pen. There are bowls for soaking the parts of your pen. You should get these things before starting to make your pen. Glasses may also be useful for this purpose.

How To Clean Your Fountain Pen Nib

Your fountain pen should be cleaned regularly, as well as after each use. You should also change the ink cartridge at least once every two years. To clean a fountain pen, first, take out the cartridge or converter. Then carefully place the grip section (the part with the nib) directly under cold running water. Or you can use an empty syringe. Don't let the water get too hot or it could damage the nib.

A fountain pen should always be cleaned by soaking it in warm water mixed with a teaspoon of ammonia. This will remove ink residue and make the pen easier to write with. A fountain pen should be stored in an upright position. This prevents ink from drying out and clogging the nib. Fountain pens are great tools for writing and drawing. They come in many different sizes and shapes, but most of them use ink cartridges or an ink reservoir instead of ink wells. The ink cartridge is usually filled by dipping the tip into the ink reservoir.

Fountain pens use tiny pumps to push ink out of the end of the pens. This makes it possible to write longer than you could with a ballpoint pen. Ink reservoirs are also useful because they allow you to reuse the same pen over and over again. There are several types of fountain pens available, including rollerball pens, gel pens, and mechanical pencils.

Surface Cleaning

Cleaning your fountain pen is an enjoyable experience, but you must use the proper cleaning methods. Silver fountain pens need to be polished with silver polish, while intricate engraving needs to be brushed off with a soft toothbrush. Pens should be cleaned using only soft cloths. Pen finishes are very sensitive, and chemical cleaners might damage them. Use only soft cloths when cleaning pens.

Steps Needed To Clean Your Fountain Nib

1. Unscrew the fountain pen nib

Unscrew the fountain pen nib the barrel of the pen and you should have your nib, feed, and nib collar all in one. Some pens can be dismantled for cleaning purposes, and if you look at a nib after it's been used, you might see that it's easy to do, but it's not always necessary.

If you do decide you want to remove the nib from the feed, most can simply be removed by pulling them apart. Don't attempt this if you don't know what you're doing. You definitely don't want to damage your pen, especially when you can clean it up properly without removing the nib first.

The most important thing to know is how to properly separate your parts so that they can all be returned easily if anything goes wrong with one part. If not done correctly, you could jeopardize the manufacturer's warranty.

2. Remove Ink From Your Pen

The next step is removing ink from your pen. If your ink cartridge is dry or empty, toss it in the trash. If your cartridge is almost full, put it in a safe place to prevent it from drying out.

3. Run the tap water and rinse the nib section for a few seconds

This helps remove any excess ink. Avoid using hot water when cleaning your fountain pen as it may alter or damage the inside of your pen nib.

4. Fill a small cup or glass of water and hold your nib inside to soak

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 ideally preferable but tap water will do the job nearly the same.

5. Place the pen nib in the water and let it soak for a while.

Empty the water and add new water. Place the nib in the water again and repeat until the water remains clear.

6. Wipe the nib on a towel or paper towel to dry

After cleaning the nib, wipe the nib on a towel or paper towel to dry. It should take a couple of hours to dry.

7. Reassemble the pen

Once it's dry, reassemble the pen and either store it or use it.

How to Clean an Old Fountain Pen

You have been restoring a vintage fountain pen for a long time then, you've found it at an antique fair and you are probably wondering about how to clean it. Here are some easy ways how to clean that old fountain pen:

  1. Disassemble the old fountain pen. Remove the old ink cartridges, the nib, and the feed if possible.
  2. Soak the nib in warm water for up to 2 days. This, however, totally depends on the age of the fountain pen.
  3. Remove and rinse with warm water.
  4. Use a microfiber cloth to dry your pen. This will help prevent the possibility of scratching the fountain pen.

Flushing Vs Soaking

Flushing is the most effective method for removing dried ink from your fountain pens. Soaking is also an option but not recommended as it takes longer than flushing. When you flush your pen, you should use two different glasses, one filled with ink and one empty.

Fill your pen with ink from the empty glass and then expel it into the other glass. This helps you see if there is any dried ink blocking your pen. Flushing a pen nib is an easy task. You should put a small amount of flush liquid into a glass and leave the pen nib in it overnight. The next day, take the pen out and shake off any excess fluid.

Rinse the pen under running water until the ink flows freely again. In the morning, the dried-up ink should be soft and easily removed with a paper towel. You should go through the flush procedure as described above to help ensure that the dried-up ink has been removed from the nib and the feed.

How To Clean Dried Ink From Nibs Fast

There are several different liquids that you can use when flushing your pen. Each of these liquids has its own advantages and disadvantages. You should be aware of what kind of ink you are using before choosing a liquid.

Can You Use Vinegar To Clean A Fountain Pen Nib?

The majority of homes have vinegar designed to use on food and some people have tried to flush their nibs and feeds with it and get mixed results. When people refer to flushing their fountain pens with vinegar they actually mean white distilled vinegar and it has a much higher success rate. Many people from the arts and crafts community do still have white distilled vinegar in their homes for various uses anyway and it can be used to remove dried ink from your pen nib.

It is possible to use vinegar to clean a fountain pen nib that goes through the whole process if this is something that you are wanting to try. If you don't currently have any white distilled vinegar in your home, it may not be advisable to pick some up just to clean your pen nib, either pick up some flush solution or go with the option below.

How to Clean Your Fountain Pen Nib With Flush Solution

Cleaning your pen nib with an actual flush solution is always going to be one of the best options when it comes to clearing dried-up ink as fast as possible. Flush solutions have been designed from the very start for use with fountain pens for the flush procedure to ensure that the process can be completed as fast as possible.

Gladly, flush solutions are quite affordable. That said if this is a one-off and you don't need to have a large fountain pen collection to keep your costs as low as possible.

Can You Clean A Fountain Pen Nib With Water?

You can as well use water to flush and clean a fountain pen nib and it can work surprisingly well. It is always advisable to only use cool or warm water. Never use boiling water as it causes issues with expanding the metal or plastic of the nib and ends up causing problems in the long run. Also, avoid adding any amount of soap as it only offers a minimal advantage for breaking ink down.

Cleaning a Pen That Has an Ink Cartridge

First and foremost, remove the cartridge from the nib. If it isn't empty, then put it aside into an upright position. You can put tape on the top of it to prevent spilling the ink or drying it out.

If the ink cartridge is unfilled, you may consider replacing it with the new one when reassembling the pen.

How to clean a fountain pen nib with a built-in piston mechanism

Some pens have internal-filling mechanisms that can be a little tricky to get when it comes to cleaning them.

  1. Submerge the nib and feed in cold water.
  2. Fill the pen only with water the same way you would with ink
  3. Flush out the pen in a separate cup.
  4. Repeat the process until the water inside the pen's body is clear.
  5. Let air dry on a paper towel.

Fill the piston pen with water and shake it gently to agitate the residual ink inside. Don’t forget to read the manufacturer's instruction manual for advice if the pen can be disassembled to access the barrel directly or behind the piston head.

Cleaning a Pen That Has a Converter

Converters are re-usable containers and can be filled with ink cartridges. Don't throw them out if they're empty or unfilled.

  1. Flush warm water through it to get rid of any remaining ink.
  2. Soak the converters in hot water for about an hour to remove any residual ink.
  3. After rinsing the converter and the barrel, leave it on a piece of paper towel and turn it down, and let it air-dry. Times, a cotton swab might help dry the last bit of moisture before reassembling the pen.

Cleaning Pens with Removable Nib Units

While most pens with removable nib units are cartridge/converter fillers, some, most notably Pelikans, are not. For these fountain pens, you can simply squirt water directly into the barrel once the nib unit is removed. For this, I use a bulb syringe.

With the piston at the back of the barrel, you will typically squirt water into the barrel and then try to force it out of the piston. This cleans all sides of the barrel. In case you may not have a bulb syringe, you can also fill the barrel directly from a jar of clean water.

Fountain Pen Filling Systems

There are a lot of different fountain pen filling systems. This also means that there are many different places for the ink to hide inside of a fountain pen. It is definitely true that there are some filling systems that are easier to clean than others. However, this should not prevent you from using a particular filling system.

Piston Fillers

Most modern fountain pens that do not use a cartridge or converter are piston fillers. This means that ink is sucked in with a vacuum created by a piston at the top of the pen and is directly stored in the barrel. These are also typically pens that do not have removable nib units For these types of filling systems, you’ll need to repeatedly fill and empty the pen with clean water.

Often, you’ll want to fill the pen and let it soak for a while. This will help clean ink out of the barrel and feed. Soak the nib while letting the inside of the pen soak instead of doing it separately. Be sure to gently enough to rotate or shake your pen to thoroughly clean the surface of the piston.

Sac Fillers

There are fountain pens that store ink in a sac. These kinds of pens are actually one of the hardest to clean. They include mostly vintage fountain pens that use a lever, vacuum, or squeeze filling system. One major reason why they are hard to clean is that one can’t see inside of the sac, so it’s hard to tell when it is completely clean.

The other reason is that they are very hard to completely fill with water, as small pockets of air will almost always be present, so parts of the sac might still contain some ink.

The first few times you fill your pen with water, you should be able to notice air bubbles coming out when you empty the water from the pen. After a few times of filling and knocking out the air bubbles, only water without bubbles should be coming out. Now is when the cleaning really begins.

With any other fountain pen, keep your suck sac fillers full of water and let them soak for a while. You’ll probably notice that cleaning them takes them longer than any other pens but with some effort, they will eventually turn out to be nice and clean.

How To Handle Hard To Clean Pens

While some inks and pens are quite easy to clean, others normally take a lot more work. If you are in a situation where you can’t get all of the ink out of your pen, you might consider doing a few things that can try to help speed up the process.

Cleaning With Ammonia

While using any type of cleaners or chemicals when cleaning your fountain pens, there are some that should typically be avoided. You may just need to use a water/ammonia mix to loosen up any old, stubborn ink in your fountain pen on some occasions.

A basic ammonia pen flush should have a 10: 1 ratio mix of water to ammonia. This means, that for every 10 ounces of water, you’ll add one ounce of ammonia. Fill a pen with the solution and let it soak for a while. While you’re letting the inside of the pen soak, also remember to soak the nib in the ammonia mix. This helps loosen up any ink that may remain after the initial cleaning.

Once you’re done with the ammonia mix, clean your pen using only clean water. You may want to be sure to flush out any ammonia that might be in your pen before filling it with ink. Make a final water rinse.

Ultrasonic Cleaners

Another great way to loosen up any stubborn ink is to use an ultrasonic cleaner. It speeds up the cleaning process for any pen but can be invaluable if you have a pen with old, dried-up ink in it. An ultrasonic cleaner works by vibrating water at a very high frequency to loosen ink that has solidified in the pen.

When using an ultrasonic cleaner, only use it for the nib and section with the feed. Avoid placing your entire pen in an ultrasonic cleaner. If you have a pen from which you can not remove the nib or section, you can put just the nib into the water while the cleaner runs.

How To Dry Your Fountain Pen

Now that you know how to clean a fountain pen nib, and even probably have cleaned it yourself by now, you’ll need a safe place to keep your pens dry. The towels help absorb any remaining water and also give your pens a soft place to sit.

It can take a while for your fountain pen to properly dry. It is advisable to leave it dry 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 just any container and insert a folded piece of a small towel roll into the bottom.

Fold your small towel 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, as if you would be in if you were writing, and let it rest against the cup so it maintains this position. Leave there to dry. You may want to change the towel roll after a while if it is soaked.


  • Always use distilled or soft water when cleaning your fountain pens.
  • Only use cold or room temperature water when cleaning a fountain pen. Boiling water may damage some components.
  • When performing basic cleaning of your fountain pen and want to save the ink in the cartridge or converter, always use a piece of tape to seal the opening of the cartridge or converter. This prevents the ink in the fountain pen from drying out.
  • For fountain pens that have ink stains in the barrel or converter, always clean them normally, and then fill the pen with the ink. Leave the pen overnight and finally, flush the ink from the pen and clean again. This might not always work, but it may be a life hack for stained demonstrator pens.

Caring for your fountain pen after cleaning

Writing with a fountain pen will provide a pleasurable experience for years to come. A fountain pen will last you for many years, perhaps even generations if it's given the right amount of care.

Caring for your pen is does not involve a difficult or laborious process and will save you a lot of money on expensive nib replacements, so feel free to peruse the above tips mentioned above to ensure you get the best out of your writing instrument.


Keeping your pen clean is an essential part of maintaining a good and long-lasting quality for your fountain pens. Not only is good pen hygiene helpful in keeping your pen writing as well as possible, but it is also a great way to help prevent potential mold and clogging issues. While some types of pens and filling systems are easier to clean than others, with regular cleaning they can all be cleaned with minimal time and effort.

If you are finding that some pens are easier to clean than others, as well as that some inks are easier to clean than others, try switching around which pens and inks you use together until you find some combinations that make cleaning as fast and easy as possible.

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