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How to Properly Clean a Fountain Pen

December 08, 2023 4 min read

How to Properly Clean a Fountain Pen


Fountain pensare beautiful tools for writers, artists, and pen lovers. They are wonderful reusable tools that can last years, if not lifetimes are properly cared for. Like any tool, fountain pens require proper maintenance to stay in good condition. To keep your pens performing at their best, your pens need to be cleaned periodically, even if you are not planning on changing the inks used. 

Why fountain pens need to be cleaned

A fountain pen works through capillary action: a physical phenomenon where a liquid uses surface tension to draw itself along a narrow tube. Ink in fountain pens flows down a channel in the feed, and the nib slit to the writing surface. Over time, paper fibres, flakes of dried ink, and dust can build up in the nib and feed, disrupting the capillary action and causing the pen to write poorly, skip, or scratch the page. If your pen has a slow or inconsistent ink flow, scratchiness, or skipping, it is likely to need to be cleaned. 

When should fountain pens be cleaned?

Even if they are still writing well, fountain pens should be cleaned every 4 to 8 weeks. Fountain pens should also be cleaned whenever ink is being changed. This ensures that the different inks do not mix within the pen, preventing muddy colours and the possibility of inks reacting badly inside the pen. 

There are two main kinds of fountain pen cleanings:

  1. Basic Cleaning
  2. Flushing

How fountain pens should be cleaned:

Basic Cleaning: If your pen is writing well, and you will not be changing inks

Flushing: If your pen is writing poorly or if you will be changing inks

How to clean your fountain pen:

Basic Cleaning:

If your pen is writing well, and you will not be changing inks, a basic cleaning is a great way to maintain your pen’s performance. 

Step 1: Disassemble the pen

Uncap the pan, then unscrew the nib section (the grip sections) from the barrel. If your fountain pen uses a cartridge or converter, remove it from the nib section

Step 2: Rinse the nib section

Hold the nib section under cool, running water for a few seconds. This will wash off any easily removable ink and make step 3 go faster.

Step 3: Soak the nib section

Get a cup of clean water and place the nib section to soak. When the water becomes saturated with ink, replace it. Repeat this process until the water stays clear for at least an hour. Inks that are highlighted, saturated, or water-resistant can take longer to clean out of a pen than others. 

Step 4: Dry the nib section

Remove the nib section from the water and let it dry completely. This can take up to 24 hours. For best results, leave the nib section sitting nib-down in a small cup with the nib wrapped in a soft, smooth cloth or paper towel.

Step 5: Reassemble the pen

Once the nib section is dry, insert the cartridge or converter if needed, and screw the nib section back into the barrel.

Flushing your fountain pen:

If you plan on changing inks, or your pen is writing poorly, flushing your pen-forcing water through the nib section until it is clean, gives it a more thorough cleaning. 

Step 1:Disassemble the pen and rinse the section

Disassemble and rinse the pen, following steps one and two of the basic cleaning instructions above.

Step 2: Flush the filling system:

Place the open end of the converter or barrel in a cup of water. Fill and empty the ink chamber until it is clean.

Step 3: Partially assemble the pen:

Re-attach the converter or barrel to the nib section and place the nib in a cup of water. 

Step 4: Flush the feed:

Use the converter or built-in filling system to cycle water in and out of the pen. Repeat until the water flushing out of the pen remains clear. 

Step 5: Soak the section: 

Let the nib section soak in clean water for a few hours to dissolve any remaining traces of ink.

Step 6: Dry the section and reassemble the pen

Dry and reassemble the pen, following steps 4 to 5 of the basic cleaning procedure. 

Fountain Pen Cleaning Kits

Fountain pen cleaning kits are an effective way to keep your fountain pens clean, and are great for in-depth cleanings. 

Platinum’s Fountain Pen Ink Cleaner Kit has everything needed to keep your pens writing smoothly. The kits contain ink cleaner concentrate, a pump, and instructions. The Platinum Ink Cleaning Kit removes remaining clogged inks after a flush out. 

Platinum makes two options: a kit for Platinum pens and a kit for European pens. The European kit includes a pump that fits with the international-size short ink cartridges. 

Cleaning your fountain pen regularly is crucial to keep it in good condition and performing at its best. Basic cleaning can help maintain your pen's performance, while flushing is necessary when changing inks or when writing quality begins to decline.

 Following the steps outlined above, you can ensure your fountain pen stays clean and functional for years. Additionally, a fountain pen cleaning kit can help make your pen cleaning process more efficient and effective. With proper care and maintenance, your fountain pen can become a timeless writing tool you can enjoy forever.


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