How to Clean a Fountain Pen: A Complete Guide

Nowadays, it’s becoming more convenient to use ballpoint pens. However, fountain pens offer a classical elegance that could never be replaced. It even molds to the way you write, which allows you to stand out with uniquely creative calligraphy.

In order to sustain its full capabilities, a fountain pen must be regularly cleaned. But it can be quite confusing with all the available types in the market.

Let me help you with this. In this article, we’ll review a complete guide on how to clean a fountain pen. Without any further ado, let’s dive in to the details.

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Before You Start

In most cases, cleaning a fountain pen can get messy, especially if you haven’t cleaned it in a while. Therefore, it’s better to wear some old clothes that you wouldn’t mind ruining with accidental spillage.

Moreover, as you’ll need to use water, I’d recommend cleaning your pen in the kitchen, the bathroom, or a utility room. It’s a good idea to spread some newspaper around you to soak any escaping ink.

All the pen manufacturers suggest that you use distilled water to clean your pen, especially for the last flush. Tap water will technically clean the pen, but it may actually clog it with its minerals and possible contaminants.

Some writers prefer to use hot water, and I strongly advise against this. It could damage the delicate parts of your pen, especially if you’re using budget-friendly products. Instead, to get rid of stubborn ink, use a pen cleaning solution.

Lastly, as you may already know, fountain pens can be fragile. You have to clean them slowly and cautiously. Avoid hitting the nib to a hard surface to get the ink out. This may permanently damage the nib.

Here’s a short checklist of things you have to consider to make sure nothing is overlooked

  • Clean your fountain pen next to a sink.
  • Wear old clothes.
  • Use distilled water.
  • Don’t use hot water.
  • Treat your pen delicately.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get to the actual cleaning steps for every pen type.

How to Clean a Cartridge Fountain Pen

Cartridge fountain pens are the easiest to clean. All you have to do is replace the cartridge and flush water down the grip.

Step 1: Flush the Grip

After you remove the old cartridge, hold the grip under a water stream until the water comes out clean from the nib.

Step 2: Evaluate

Wipe the nib with a paper towel to evaluate its cleanliness. If it makes ink strokes, hold the grip under the stream again.

Step 3: Use a Bulb Syringe

For a deeper clean, you can flush water down the grip with a . Avoid applying excessive force, though. This may damage the feed and the nib.

After you finish, leave the grip to air-dry before you insert the new cartridge.

How to Clean an Eyedropper Fountain Pen

It’s pretty common to see people converting their converter pens into eyedropper pens. It’s pretty understandable as the latter is much simpler with superior ink capacity.

Step 1: Start with the Grip

To clean this model, separate the grip from the body. Hold the grip under a water stream or flush it with a bulb syringe, just like we did with the cartridge model.

Step 2: Now Move to the Body

To clean the body, fill it halfway with water. Then cover the open end with your finger and shake vigorously. Should any ink remain inside, use a Q-tip with soapy water to reach the deepest areas.

You can also use a new Q-tip to quickly dry the body if you want to instantly use it.

How to Clean a Converter Fountain Pen

A converter fountain pen is the most common pen you’ll find in the market. It’s convenient to use with endless options of ink colors and brands.

Step 1: Flush with Water

In contrast to other models, you don’t have to disassemble the pen.  To start, grab a cup and fill it with water. Then dip the nib inside the water and rotate the piston to push the water inside the pen. Flush the water down the sink and repeat until the water comes out clean.

Step 2: Let It Dry

Leave the pen to air-dry before filling it with ink again.

Why Should You Clean Your Fountain Pen?

No fountain pen can fully discharge all of its ink as you’re using it. Therefore, it’s imperative to find dried ink inside the pen parts, especially the smaller ones. If this ink isn’t regularly cleaned, it will clog the pen and impede the normal flow.

Moreover, as you move the metal nib over the paper, static charges are generated. These charges attract dust and paper fibers to the nib and the feed channel. Therefore, the more often you use your pen, the more often you should clean it.

Additionally, you should always clean your fountain pen before switching ink color and/or brand.

Obviously, this is important to avoid unevenly-colored strokes. But it’s also important to prevent possible interaction between ink types. Otherwise, this could lead to sedimentation of by-products within the feed channel.

How Often Should You Clean a Fountain Pen?

This depends on a variety of factors like:

  • The ben brand
  • The ink type
  • How frequent you’re using it
  • Whether you’re planning to store it.

As a general rule, you should give your pen a quick water flush at least once per month of regular use.

If you’re using carbon-based inks, like platinum’s carbon ink, you’ll have to clean the pen at least once per week. This is because such ink types have bigger insoluble particles that can easily clog the fine pieces of your pen.

Lastly, if you’re planning to store your pen for a while, you should give it a thorough clean after the last use. Otherwise, the remaining ink will get extra hard and will require double the effort to clean.

To Sum Up

Fountain pens are fun to use as long as you give them proper maintenance. Generally speaking, every fountain pen has to be cleaned once per month, to say the least. If you’re using carbon-based ink, then do it once per week.

All the types share the same basic cleaning principles. All you need to do is run water inside the body and the grip until it comes out clean.

It’s preferable to use distilled water for the last flush to avoid the buildup of contaminants and minerals. For stubborn dry ink, use a pen cleaning solution instead of hot water as the latter may damage the pen.

Now go on and show the world what you can do with your clean pen!

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