how to clean a fountain pen

How to Clean a Fountain Pen

Any well-tuned machine requires an occasional cleaning, and fountain pens are no different. Knowing how to clean a fountain pen keeps it in optimal condition. People often believe that these pens are messy and “high maintenance.” 

While they do require more attention than a rollerball or ballpoint, it’s not as difficult as you might think. Below, we take a look at the basics of cleaning your fountain pen. 

The Fountain Pen Cleaning Process

You can break the cleaning process down into three basic steps. 

1. Start & Finish with Water

Typically, you can use a glass of water for your more basic inks. If the ink lacks sparkles, permanence, shimmer, etc, you should be fine. Flush the pen by running water through the filling mechanism. 

Repeat this flush process 5 or 6 times. Typically, that’s more than enough to clean a fountain pen and prevent old ink from clogging the pen. Additionally, you shouldn’t see any traces of the old ink when you refill your pen. 

To dry out the pen, fold a tissue or paper towel into the bottom of a glass and gently place the pen nib down in the glass. 

Note: It’s important to be careful because nibs are fragile. 

2. Use Water & Dish Soap for Stubborn Inks

If you have a fountain pen with dried-out ink or shimmer ink, add a drop of dish soap to a glass of water. Then, repeat step one. Usually, this is enough to clean stubborn inks. 

Alternatively, you can use a dedicated fountain pen cleaning solution, which you can purchase at a pen store. Never try to make your own pen flush with ammonia or diluted Windex. This can damage certain materials. 

Tip: Buy a Bulb Syringe

A bulb syringe can make these first two straps easier. This is especially true for cartridge converter pens. Bulb syringes move a minimal amount of water through the converter. However, be sure to hold on tight. 

3. Use an Ultrasonic Cleaner

In certain cases, flushing a pen is not enough. This is true of hooded nibs in particular. Flushing may not get the water to every part of the feed. 

An Ultrasonic cleaner makes the process easier. However, it’s an investment you only really need in specific situations. 

cleaning a fountain pen

Why Do I Need to Clean a Fountain Pen?

Any fountain pen can clog with dry ink, dust, or paper fibers, and you have to clean it to get the ink flowing again. Inside the pen, ink flows down a channel in the feed and through a slit in the nib onto the writing surface. 

Generally, you know your pen needs a cleaning when the flow is slow or inconsistent. 

How Often Should I Clean a Fountain Pen?

Clean your fountain pen once every month or two. Even if the pen still writes well, a thorough cleaning keeps it in good shape. Additionally, it’s a good idea to clean your pen whenever you change from one ink to another. This prevents mixing inks, which can muddy the colors. 

Fountain Pen Cleaning Accessories 

If your pen lacks a built-in filling system or a converter, cleaning accessories make the process much easier. Like the bulb syringe mentioned above, it attaches to the pen, which allows you to flush water through it. 

If you need to clean multiple pens at once, it also makes the process more efficient. A syringe and pipette can hold plenty of water. 

Here’s how to clean a fountain pen with an accessory: 

  1. Remove the cartridge or converter and attach the bulb syringe. 
  2. Flush the pen with water. 

How to Clean a Nib Section

Some fountain pens allow you to disassemble the nib section. If this is possible, you can give your pen a more thorough cleaning. Typically, you only need to worry about this when you use high-maintenance inks, such as iron gall, pigment-based, or glittery inks. 

Be careful and cautious if you try to take apart the nib section. Never try to force a nib out if it feels stuck. Doing this can void a manufacturer’s warranty, not to mention ruin the pen. Before you attempt to detach the nib, remove the converter or cartridge. 

1. Check the Nib Type

There are two main ways manufacturers install nibs: Friction or Collar. Friction-fit nibs are easier to pull out. However, certain models require a specific orientation, so carefully check how it attaches to the grip. 

Other pens use a screw-in nib, which has a removable nib collar. To avoid damage, unscrew the entire nib unit. Next, remove the nib and feed from the collar. 

2. Rinse & Soak

Once you remove the nib and feed, rinse everything and let it soak for a few hours. Then, lay it out on a paper towel or cloth to dry. Finally, reinsert the nib and feed to reassemble the pen. 

Fountain Pen Cleaning Tips

  • If you have hard water in your tap (water with a high mineral content), it can leave mineral deposits in the feed. Instead, use softened or distilled water to clean your pens. 
  • Shimmering, pigmented, and iron gall inks are not harmful when specifically made for fountain pens. However, it’s best to use them consistently. If you do not plan to use it for a week or more, it’s a good idea to flush the pen. 
  • Use room-temperature or cold water when you clean a fountain pen. Hot water can damage certain components. 


Knowing how to clean a fountain pen ensures it lasts a lifetime. Regular cleanings and proper care make a huge difference and keep it in like-new condition. Clean frequently and move slowly. If you ever have any questions, our service team is always ready to help!

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