How to Clean A Fountain Pen & Why You NEED To Do It!

A fountain pen is a precision instrument. It took decades to develop the intricate techniques and technology to properly craft one. You can imagine that such an instrument needs proper maintenance occasionally, right?

So it begs the question, how do you clean a fountain pen?

To clean a fountain pen, you will need to disassemble the pen and either soak the parts in water or a cleaning solution. You can also flush the parts by placing them under running water. Tools like a syringe or a bulb syringe can also be used depending on the model.

You basically have two options to clean your fountain pen, which are soaking and flushing. Each has their merits and depending on your situation, you may want to do one over the other. For both methods, however, you will have to disassemble your fountain pen to be able to do it properly and thoroughly.

Disassembling your pen is quite easy. For most pens you just need to:

  1. Uncap the pen
  2. Unscrew the barrel from the section
  3. Empty the ink
  4. Remove the converter from the section

And, that’s it! Your pen is now ready to be cleaned!

There is, however, another step that is possible with some fountain pen models but it is optional. If you aren’t that confident handling your pen, I would suggest you skip it.

That step is only for some models of fountain pens because you will need to remove the feeder and the nib from the section/grip.

How Do You Take Out The Nib Or Feed

The process for taking out your nib and feed from the section of the fountain pen differs from model to model. You will be able to pull the nib of some, while other brands make it so you can unscrew them easily.

Here’s a video on how to them with different models:

Depending on your pen you might want to get a rubber grip to properly remove the nib. It’s not obligatory, but to reduce any unfortunate events, it is recommended to do so.

Taking out the nib and feed might also result in some of the ink stored inside to spill or splatter out. So you might want to take that into account and have a towel ready.

On a side note, if you want to keep your pen from leaking when you travel, especially in planes, this article might help.

Lastly, you have to remember that mishandling the nib or feed can damage them. I wouldn’t suggest removing them unless you really need to. The steps above and disassembling the pen is already enough to achieve acceptable results.

How Do You Soak A Fountain Pen?

Soaking is fairly simple. All you need to do is:

  1. Disassemble the fountain pen
  2. Rinse the parts with running water(warm)
  3. Let the parts soak in a container of water
  4. Wipe it down with a paper towel
  5. Reassemble the pen

Things To Remember When Soaking

Soaking is great to use when you do regular fountain pen maintenance. It makes sure that the pen is clear of any dust or particle that accumulates when you write on paper. It also makes sure any sediments from the ink doesn’t get stuck on any of the parts.

Be sure to use warm water when doing this. Hot water can cause warping in some of the parts, effectively ruining your pen.

Be sure to replace the water whenever it changes color. You’ll want to soak the parts until the water is clear after being left there. This can take some time, but patience is a virtue and you’ll want to keep your pen working properly in the long run.

How Do You Flush A Fountain Pen?

Flushing is somewhat more complicated but still manageable. 

 All you need to do is:

  1. Disassemble the fountain pen
  2. Rinse the parts with running water
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Repeat until the water coming out of the pen is clean.
  6. Dry with a paper towel – Make sure the paper towel is clean, as when soaking
  7. 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.

Here’s a video to help you get a better idea:

Things To Remember When Flushing

Basically, flushing involves you sucking water in through the pen, as you would ink, and pushing it out forcefully to clean the parts.

This is much easier to do with a converter, but it will take some time to clean the pen thoroughly.

You typically flush your pens whenever you are experiencing a blockage or when changing inks colors.

Much like soaking, DO NOT USE HOT WATER.

There are other methods of doing this, such as using a bulb syringe.

Using a bulb syringe makes it incrementally faster, and I would suggest you do this instead of the converter method.

Here’s a video of how to do it with a bulb syringe:

Do You Need To Clean A Fountain Pen?

Cleaning a fountain pen needs to be done whenever you are changing inks, or whenever you will store your pen for a period of time. This will ensure that no blockage will occur due to the nib or feed. Changing inks will also ensure that the ink will not mix when you change color.

Like I said, the fountain pen is a precision writing instrument. Unlike normal pens, the nib, being metal, produces an electrostatic charge that attracts dust and other sediments that can cause blockages.

It is normally recommended that you clean your fountain pen once every one or two months in order to make sure that this does not occur. While it’s not a life or death, it’s typically good practice to do so.

Some fountain pen owners go for months with cleaning their pens. However, different pens react differently depending on the environment and circumstances. What works for one owner will not necessarily work for another.

If you are planning to store the pen, you will also need to clean it to prevent any blockages from occurring. Having ink inside the pen will most likely cause the ink to evaporate since it is water-based, leaving the dye and other ingredients to block the passages of the feeder and nib.

How Often Do You Need To Clean Your Fountain Pen?

It is good practice to clean your fountain pens regularly. While some suggest cleaning it every one or two months, it is mostly dependent on your usage and the type of ink used. Pigment based inks will need regular cleaning to avoid any blockages.

For more on how often you need to clean your fountain and an in-depth explanation of why, check this article out!

Ever wonder if you can swap out the nibs of fountain pens? Find out in this article!


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