If you are new to fountain pens, one of the first things to know is that to keep it working like new, you have to regularly maintain it. It’s not really surprising for anyone who’s done their research on fountain pens, but it does raise the question of how often do you really need to clean your fountain pen?
How often do you need to clean your fountain pen? Fountain pens need to be regularly cleaned for it to work as intended. That said, the period varies from pen to pen. There are however generally accepted intervals and reasons for cleaning. These are:
- 1 – 2 months of use
- When changing inks
- When experiencing blockages
There are many sources when it comes to fountain pens. You have your online communities, websites, and experts, all chiming in and helping you become a better fountain pen geek. This information is usually based on personal experience and is very helpful.
However, with all these sources, sometimes it gets confusing. Everyone’s experience with a fountain pen is different. Add in the numerous types and kinds of fountain pens, and those will definitely widen the variety of solutions and advice you’ll receive.
This is especially so with this subject matter. Cleaning has drawn a lot of different opinions, and again it’s because of the different types of pens that people have. There are also different solutions to use. Below I’ll list one I use that I found a while back.
To make it easier for you, I went around these communities gathering the most useful information to help you take care of your fountain pen and to determine when it’s best to clean your pen.
I also threw in some tips and tricks, and awesome videos you can follow for a more detailed process of what to do.
When Do You Really Need To Clean Your Fountain Pen?
As stated above, there are situations where you have to clean your fountain pen. These are:
- 1 – 2 months of use
- When changing inks
- When experiencing blockages
1 – 2 Months of Use
Generally, you only have to worry about cleaning your fountain pen when you’ve been using it for quite a time.
The reason for this is because the rubbing between the metal nib and the paper or writing medium causes a small electrostatic charge that attracts tiny particles of dust or debris. The tiny particles can cause your nib or feed to clog and, of course, that will cause some problems with your pen.
Ideally, cleaning your pen once a month is the way to go. However, I personally go for much longer, which is not good. The thing to take away from that is, generally, the fountain pen can take a while of not being cleaned. However, I would suggest about three months being the maximum period of time that you do not wash it.
Two months is already pushing it. Based on all the other sources I’ve checked, the magic number is one or two months.
When Changing Inks
Of course, when you are changing inks, you wouldn’t want them to mix up and change color. The solution to that is just plain old cleaning.
If you are refilling it with the same color, you can just go ahead and refill it with that color if the pen is still clean.
You have to take note that while fountain pen inks are mostly water-based, they are still comprised of different ingredients and some may not react well to others. You’ll want to get rid of those before refilling it with new ink with doing some flushing.
Flushing is just like cleaning with an added step.
Pigmented inks also require you to clean it regularly. They have a tendency of clogging your feed, resulting in your pen needing to be flushed or repaired.
When Experiencing Blockages
Blockages occur for different reasons. Sometimes you just push your pen too much and forget to clean it, or maybe it was caused by the ink. Either way, when they occur a solution could be a good cleaning.
Of course, this is not always the solution. If you find they you have properly cleaned it and it still is blocked, you might have to contact your fountain pen repair service to have it checked.
Cleaning Your Fountain Pen
So you’ve diligently chosen to clean your pen regularly, now what?
The process of cleaning your pen could take some time, and a bit of energy to do right. There are two ways to go about it, and if you are not changing the color or brand of your ink, you can stick to regular soaking.
Soaking is great for regular maintenance. If you want your pen to function properly and to last, do this fairly regularly.
- Disassemble the fountain pen – Unscrew the barrel of the fountain pen, and take out the reservoir.
- Rinse the parts with running water – You can run the parts with warm water in your sink. Be careful not to lose them in your drainage, and make sure not to use hot water as it can change the shape of your nib.
- Let the parts soak in a container of water – This is great for letting the dried up ink dissolve along with the ingredients inside it. You won’t have to do this for the cap and barrel if you don’t want to.
You will want to make sure that the water is clear by the end of the soak. If you find that the water is dyed a certain color, repeat the process again.
- Wipe it down with a paper towel – Make sure to dry it well with a paper towel. When you do this and ink sticks to the paper towel, repeat the process again.
- Reassemble the pen – Screw everything back in its place. You can now store your pen or refill it with ink.
Flushing a pen means that you’re cleaning your pen thoroughly. You’ll want to do this when you are changing inks or trying to clear any blockages.
- Disassemble the fountain pen – similar to soaking unscrew all the parts
- Rinse the parts with running water – Remember, no hot water!
- Fill the converter or barrel with clean water – This is to clean the barrel or converter. Before proceeding to the next step, make sure there is no more ink and that they are clear.
- Reattach the converter/ barrel and repeat the process for step 3 with the nib and feeder attached – The process is quite similar to filling your pen with ink. The only difference is you are filling it with clean water. Once it is full, push the water back out using the filling mechanism. Basically, you are sucking and pushing clean water through the pen to clean it.
- Repeat until the water coming out of the pen is clean.
- Dry with a paper towel – Make sure the paper towel is clean, as when soaking/
- Reassemble the pen – Check the pen to see if there is still a blockage, or if it is ready to be refilled with new ink.
For detailed steps with pictures, check this out:
Using A Bulb Syringe For Faster Flushing
As I promised, here’s a cool and fast way to clean your fountain pen.
With this method, it’ll be like soaking and flushing the pen together. You’ll save time, water, and effort with this, so be sure to watch the video!
Using A Vinegar Solution For Soaking
There are certain solutions that can help you clean your pen. This particular solution is made with plain vinegar and water. Its something I use when I really need to get my pen clean. Don’t worry about this solution damaging your pen. The ph level of vinegar is almost the same as fountain pen ink.
The ratio is 1:10, so for every 1 part of vinegar, mix in 10 parts of water.
For example, 1 tablespoon of vinegar needs 10 tablespoons of water.
There are other recipes for cleaning solutions, but this is what I found worked for the community.
Check it out here: