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.
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!
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?