How to Clean a Fountain Pen and Adequately Care For It
disassembled fountain pen for cleaning

The fountain pen is the lord of all writing instruments. It is generally adored among pen fans with purposeful and conscious penmanship styles. Assuming you currently own one, you will likely realize the importance and joy of writing with a fountain pen.

A fountain pen will last you for a long time, maybe even ages if properly cared for, but cleaning and taking care of your fountain pen can be a confusing or anxiety-provoking process if you’ve never done it before.

Fortunately, cleaning a fountain pen is not a demanding or challenging task, and it will save you from spending money on costly nib replacements. So, go ahead and examine our tips below on how to clean a fountain pen and other related information.

Why Is It Essential to Clean Your Fountain Pen?

showing how to clean a fountain pen

This is more like asking, why should you wash your mouth? Why should you wash your clothes? Why should you clean your shoes and many other necessities?

A fountain pen functions via capillary action. This is a process wherein a fluid uses surface tension to draw itself along a tight cylinder. In a fountain pen, ink streams down a path in the feed and the nib to the writing paper.

Over time, dust, paper strands, and chips of already dried ink can gather in the nib and feed. This may slow down the capillary action and make the pen write inadequately. In a nutshell, you need to clean your fountain pen to ensure proper functionality and durability. 

When Should You Clean Your Fountain Pen?

Now that you understand how important it is to clean your pen periodically, the next question is when and how often should you clean your pen?

For a smooth writing experience, you need to clean your pen often. Even if it works perfectly well, you should clean your pen once every 4 to 8 weeks. 

Another time you should clean your pen is when you change inks. You don’t want to mix colors in your writing or create unwanted reactions between colors. In addition, when there is irregular ink flow, scratchiness, and skipping, it’s time to clean your pen.

How to Clean a Fountain Pen

This section shows you how to perform regular cleaning for all types of fountain pens. Regular pen cleaning is necessary, even when your pen functions well and you think you have no reason to clean it. 

A fountain pen has several parts that need to be cleaned, including the following. 

How to Clean the Nib

The fountain pen nib has varying purposes, sizes, and shapes. It comes in contact and deposits ink on the writing surface. 

Disassembling the Pen

  • Take the fountain pen apart to wash it clean thoroughly. This is done by unscrewing the pen grip from the barrel. 
  • Set aside your fountain pen cartridge if it has one. This cartridge should only be used once and can be unlocked to deliver the ink into the nib. Since the ink cartridge is drilled, it will spill ink, assuming you flip it around. Keep it upright and use a pen cup or other holder to store the cartridge while cleaning your pen briefly.
  • If your pen has an ink converter (a reusable ink reservoir), remove it from the assembly.

Washing the Nib

  • Wash the nib with cool running water until the water runs clear. You can achieve this by using a faucet or a blunt needle syringe.

Drying the Nib

  • Shake the nib a couple of times to get the water out. Then, allow it to air dry for several hours.
  • You can place the nib standing up on top of paper towels. The paper towel will help to absorb dampness from the nib.

How to Clean the Converter

  • Separate the ink converter from the pen. This should be done carefully to avoid spilling the ink all over the place.
  • Discard the ink appropriately or collect it into paper towels.
  • Run cold water through the converter. This is best done using a syringe, but if you use the faucet, make sure you run it lightly. Otherwise, water gets behind the piston seal, which can cause problems later down the line.
  • Using your fingertips, close the end of the converter after running water into it. Give the converter a decent shake to remove any excess ink inside the converter.
  • Finally, run more cool water through the converter until the water runs clear.
  • Place the converter upright on a paper towel and allow it to air dry.
  • You may apply a bit of silicone grease to the piston if you desire. This ensures the smooth running of the piston.

How to Clean a Fountain Pen’s Cap

Some fountain pens have an internal cap that fits cozily into the root of the main cap. While this part keeps the nib from drying out, ink can ooze between the dividers of the primary cap and the internal cap.

You can remove most internal caps with some resourcefulness, but others are attached permanently to the primary cap and are not detachable.

  • To remove the internal cap, wind a rubber band around a pencil and insert the unsharpened end into the cap. Then pull out the inner cap.
  • Clean the cap with running water or a cotton swab and dry out the water before replacing the internal cap.
  • Make sure you push the internal cap to the bottom of the pen’s cap before capping the pen.

How to Clean the External Part of a Fountain Pen

Cleaning the Hard Metal Finishes

Fountain pens are made of platinum, stainless steel, chromium, and palladium. Use a soft cloth to clean these metal finishes to avoid scratching.

Cleaning the Silver Finishes 

Apply silver polish with a polishing cloth on your pen if it is made of sterling silver, plated silver, or other silver to maintain an attractive fountain pen. Apply the polish with a brush if your pen has engraving.

Cleaning Fine Resin and Celluloid Finishes

Fine resin finishes can be helpless against breaks and scratches. Utilize a delicate fabric to clean these sorts of finishes.

Celluloid finishes have been used before the involvement of modern plastic. Utilize a soft cloth to clean the celluloid, enamel, or painted surface. Avoid using any soap or grating cleaners on this pen, as these may damage the finishes.

How to Use Commercial Cleaning Solutions

Water is often not enough to thoroughly wash out your fountain pen. No one is perfect, and sometimes your pen may accidentally dry out. Below are steps to using commercial cleaning solutions to help your pen look and act brand new. 

  • Wash the nib with running water, as stated above.
  • Set up the cleaning solution, adhering to any directions that come with the package. To make the solution last longer, move some amount to a small container or empty ink vial and conserve the leftover portion for future cleanings.
  • Leave the nib in the cleaning solution following the directions. On the off chance that the pen has a converter or built-in filling framework, use it to maneuver the cleaning solution into the nib segment.
  • Soak, rinse, or flush the nib appropriately with plain water. You don’t want to have residues of the cleaning solution in your pen, as it may react with the ink or mess with the flow.
  • Dry all the washed parts of the pen and put them back together.

Cleaning Solutions Easily Accessible at Home

If water cannot clean your fountain pen effectively and commercial solutions are not in your grasp, you can use some household solutions to help you achieve a thorough cleaning.

  • Dishwashing soap: A mixture of dishwashing soap and clean water will help you remove stains.
  • Household ammonia: A basic ammonia pen flush will solve tough clogging issues and clean inks that are difficult to wash. A bit of ammonia in water will ideally get the job done. However, avoid using ammonia on metal parts like brass, copper, and aluminum, as ammonia corrodes them. 
  • Bleach: Bleach is an effective ink stain remover but should only be used as a last resort. Avoid soaking your pen parts in bleach for an extended period. Also, be sure the bleach is diluted with water, as bleach can damage the components of the pen. 

How to Properly Dry Your Fountain Pen

If you don’t dry your pen well, you may end up harming your pen components. You should ideally leave your pen to dry for about 24, but you may make use of it after 12 hours. 

Roll at least two layers of kitchen paper towels and place them at the bottom of a cup. Place the nib on the paper towels in an upright position and allow it to rest on the cup. Leave to dry and change the towels if they become soaked.

Storing Your Fountain Pen

As important as cleaning is, it is essential to store your fountain pen properly to avoid damaging or misplacing it.

  • Always put the cap on your fountain pen when not in use to avoid drying out of the nib.
  • The nib should remain with the nib pointing up when not used so the ink will deplete down into the converter or cartridge. While this conflicts with your regular nature, this helps to avoid drying out or causing blockage issues with the nib.
  • If you intend to store your pen for longer than seven days, you should separate the ink. Remove the ink cartridge or converter and thoroughly clean the nib. Ensure the nib completely dries before putting away the pen.
  • Storing your pen in a pen case or pouch keeps it from being scratched or damaged. Nonetheless, keep pens in the case if the ink cartridge has been removed or when the pen is not in use.

General Tips to Follow While Cleaning Your Fountain Pens

  • Avoid using hot water, as it might damage the internal parts of the pen or warp some components. Cold or room-temperature tap water is best suited for fountain pen cleaning.
  • Avoid the use of ammonia to clean nitrocellulose pens. Ammonia may tarnish the color of the pen’s covering.
  • If you utilize the faucet while running water into the converter, do it lightly to avoid complications.
  • If you want to conserve the ink in the converter or cartridge while cleaning your pen, seal the opening of the converter or cartridge with tape to prevent it from drying out.
  • Avoid scraping ink stains in the converter or barrel. Instead, use cleaning solutions for efficient stain removal.
  • If you don’t plan on using your fountain pen for a week or more, flush out the pen and store it as indicated in the previous section.
  • Avoid cleaning your pen with acetone or alcohol, as this may cause permanent damage to the pen.

Concluding Thoughts

An excellent, top-quality fountain pen merits a level of care and consideration, including cleaning. This fountain pen care guide provides you with useful tips and tricks to help you better understand how to clean a fountain pen.

Cleaning your pen is important, so be sure to clean yours on a regular basis. Follow any cleaning instructions that came with your pen, and use our guide for additional cleaning considerations. Your pen should stay in excellent condition and continue to provide you with the best writing experience.


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