How To Clean Dip Pen Nibs Quickly and Efficiently
how to clean dip pen nibs,notebook, Nib pen and ink on table

Writing is an art that has been passed down for generations, and we can see the many variations of this art all over the world today. The tools we use to write with are just as varied and just as important as the finished products.

These writing tools have come in different forms over the years, and we can see a distinct pattern of evolution. Dip pens or nib pens are products of this evolution, and they are an older form of writing.

Owning a dip pen is a great way to take your writing to the next level, and knowing how to clean your dip pen’s nib is essential. We’ll be taking you through exactly how to clean dip pen nibs as well as going over some other tips on nib pens. 

What Is a Dip Nib Pen?

Nib pen on yellow paper

If you’re familiar with dip pen calligraphy and the other earlier forms of writing, you’ll know what fountain pens are. A fountain pen is a writing device that consists of a nib, feed, and reservoir. The fountain pen came years after the dip pen, and there are distinct similarities between them. 

Dip pens are the same as fountain pens, except for an ink reservoir. When you pick up a regular dip pen, you will observe the nib and a capillary channel that feeds the nib. The same design is also apparent in a fountain pen.

Now, let’s look at how a dip pen operates. 

How Does a Dip Pen Work?

We mentioned that dip pens don’t have reservoirs, but they are still used for writing. So how do dip pens get their ink? The answer is in the name “dip pen” — you have to dip the pen in an inked glass before you start writing. 

The ink flows through the capillary channels and enters the nib at a controlled rate. This design can also be seen in the fountain pen, which was designed from the dip pen.

However, the name of the pen can also be misleading. When most people hear “dip pen,” they think of dipping the pen in ink to get it to write. However, that is not all there is to a nib pen, and you can apply ink using other methods. 

For example, there are small reservoirs designed to be attachable to the pen. These reservoirs are attached to the holder of the pen and allow you to enjoy an interrupted supply of ink. 

Another method is the syringe method which simply requires an ink bottle and a syringe. The syringe method is not that different from filling the pen by dipping. You can use the syringe to transfer the ink into the feed instead of dipping the pen in the ink. The advantage of this method is that you can deliver the ink more accurately and neatly. 

Now that we’ve looked at what a dip pen is and how it works, let’s talk about how to clean the nibs of dip pens. 

How To Clean Dip Pen Nibs 

Red & black dip pen nibs

You must take care of every part of your dip pen, but you need to take special care when handling the nib. The nib of your pen is sensitive, and it’s important that you clean it regularly and carefully. 

Let’s look at how to clean dip pen nibs.

Simply Use Tap Water 

Oftentimes, we feel we need to use more sophisticated chemicals and whatnot to clean our tools before they are truly clean. However, that is not true in all cases, and it is best to stick to simple tap water when cleaning the nib of a dip pen. 

The ink that is used in dip pens and fountain pens is usually water-soluble, so it is easy for clean water to dissolve the paints. Trying to use special pen cleaners can do more harm than good in the long run.

Be Careful When Dipping 

Most times, when people want to clean the nib, they dip the full pen into the water. Dipping your nib pen into water is very bad for the pen, and it will spoil your pen in the long run. 

The internal parts of your pen are made with iron, and water causes iron to rust. The rust will get around your nib, and seal it like gum after a while. It will become difficult to move your nib and you might end up having to change your pen. 

You should avoid getting water in your dip pen. We recommend dipping the nib in water without getting it into the pen. We advise that you use more of a swirl than a dip when cleaning your nib with water. 

Dry With Non-Fibrous Material 

The cloth you use to dry your nib might not seem like a big deal until you try writing. If you’ve cleaned your nib with a fibrous material, you’ll notice that tiny strands of the fibre get caught on your nib. These fibres will also collect ink and create unwanted designs on your paper. 

Get a non-fibrous cloth to clean your nib, and it will save you from stress in the future. 

Clean Your Pen Before Every Refill 

We advise that you swirl your nib in water before you dip it in ink. Doing this might seem tedious at first, but it becomes a habit with time. 

Swirl the nib pen in a jar of water, dry it with a non-fibrous cloth, and dip it back inside your ink bottle. Regular cleaning is a good habit for smoother ink flow and writing. 

Use a Toothbrush 

We recommend this step at the end of your writing session. You can use a soft toothed brush to scrub off any dried paint clinging to the walls of your nib. Using a toothbrush is effective, and the tiny brushes can fit into the crevices of the nib. 


Dip pens are classic pens, and they require a higher level of care than most pens. It is easy to clean a dip pen, you just need to be careful. 

After reading this article, you now know exactly how to clean dip pen nibs using just a few simple steps. Fountain pens and dip pens are both elegant and classic writing tools, and regular cleaning is important for properly maintaining your nib. 


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