Seven Steps To A Clean Fountain Pen

How To Clean A Fountain Pen

Go on admit it! You're a fountain pen lover with a dirty little secret. Me too.

It doesn't matter how many fountain pens you have, the fact is that most of us do not clean and maintain our pens the way we should! Don't try to hide it... you can't escape! You know it's true!

One of the most important questions from a fountain pen beginner should be “How do I clean and maintain my pen”. But the reality is that most of us are never told that we should plan a regular maintenance schedule. A fountain pen is no biro with a ball point throw-away. Before you know it, your nib has dried and the ink stops flowing! Your beautiful fountain pen becomes problematic to use and it gets relegated to the dining room draw.

How To Clean A Fountain Pen Close Up

My advice for beginners and lazy fountain pen aficionados who neglect their pens is to start a fountain pen cleaning schedule! And it doesn't need to be a crazy schedule. I recommend every time your pen is out of ink, give it a little tender loving care. Make an evening of it!

Cleaning your pen gives it a breath of fresh air and affords you the opportunity to switch up inks. There are a lot of different ways of cleaning a fountain pen, but below is my sure-fire way to clean quickly and efficiently!

Cleaning Fountain Pen Converters

Graeme’s Sure-fire Fountain Pen Cleaning Steps

1) Get yourself a special pen cleaning cup! Place the cup under a tap and fill it with room temperature water. I keep the tap running a little just to keep the water fresh.

2) Grab some kitchen towel and have it close by. There will be some ink and water to clean up.

3) Hold the nib-section underneath the running tap to clean and force out any ink that is left in the nib and feed. The water doesn't have to run 100% clear but you'll certainly move a lot of ink here. Careful not to splash all over the dry dishes! Place the nib section to the side on your kitchen towel.

4) Fill the converter with water from your cleaning cup - as if you were filling your pen.

5) Twist or squeeze the water out of the converter and repeat step 4 until the water is almost clear. You may need to freshen the water in your cleaning cup every so often.

6) Here's my personal secret sauce. Reconnect the converter with the nib section and repeat steps 4 and 5 until the water runs clear. You'll be surprised how much ink is still left in the nooks and crannies of your fountain pen at this point.

7) Check the inside of the cap for ink blots and clean under the tap. When you are happy that your pen sparkles, dry the parts off with kitchen towel, put back together and refill with another favourite ink!

Tips And Tricks For Cleaning Your Fountain Pen

If you're a cartridge user then you only have to clean the nib section as described in step 3.

If you're using a dark or stubborn ink, then it might take a while to clean your pen. I'll sometimes put fresh water into my cleaning cup and then leave the nib section to soak for several hours or over night. The ink will be drawn out of the nib section and may form a colourful blob at the bottom of your cleaning cup. Remove the nib section carefully using on old pair of chopsticks and repeat the cleaning steps.

If you have a cake encrusted fountain pen that refuses to be cleaned, then fear not! Pen companies such as J. Herbin to manufacturer pen cleaning fluid (in our store soon) that can help with stubborn stains – we'll have an article on cleaning those difficult pens in the future.

Don't forget to clean and maintain your pen and make dried up ink a thing of the past! And remember, cleaning your fountain pens can actually be fun!

Do you have any tricks and tips for cleaning fountain pens that you have learned over the years? 

3 thoughts on “Seven Steps To A Clean Fountain Pen”

  1. Great timing! I had just recently cleaned my pen for the first time and was happy to discover that our methods don’t differ by much. I have been using cartridges which made the process a little shorter, not having the converter to deal with (yet), and I added a drop or two of dish soap to the water.

    Thanks again for the great, informative article!

    • Great point Evan! One drop of dish soap in a cup of water is very useful sometimes! You don’t want to overdo the amount (one drop is good) but it can be particularly useful if you find a pen doesn’t perform quite as expected . It can help get rid of manufacturing residue and help clean the nib and feed. I’ve found this particularly true with Noodler’s Ink pens but it has also helped one or two customers with other pens that haven’t written quite right first time. After a flush with a drop of dish soap, you need to clean the pen out thoroughly before inking up.

      • Thanks for confirming that this nib newbie was on the right track, Graeme! I added the drop of soap, I believe, due to reading it somewhere not due to any issue with my pen. In fact, I really liked my Kaweco AL Sport Aluminum with its fine nib when I first got it, but the extra fine nib that I ordered from you made the pen absolutely perfect for me.

        The one thing I will change going forward is to rinse and dry the nib a bit better. It took a little longer than I would have thought for the new ink to come in, but I was back up and running flawlessly within a few minutes and after a handful of test notes.

        Thanks again!

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