Cleaning a fountain pen

How To Clean a Fountain Pen

A fountain pen is a lifetime investment. Learn how to clean and maintain your fountain pen to ensure a smooth writing experience for many years to come. 

When you invest in a fountain pen, you’re investing in a writing instrument designed to last a lifetime, if not more. So, if you want to ensure a smooth writing experience for years, and perhaps generations to come, it’s worth spending some time learning how to clean your fountain pen properly.

Essentially, a fountain pen works by sending ink down the feed, into the nib, and onto the paper. Over time, dried ink and paper fibres, that you might not even be able to see, can build up in the nib and feed and won’t write as well as it should, or like it did when it was shiny and new.

How Often Should You Clean a Fountain Pen?

You’ll need to clean your fountain pen when you want to change ink colour or if it hasn’t been used for a while. All you’ll need are a few tools and some water. Don’t be alarmed though, by tools we don’t mean you have to go to Bunnings and buy a bunch of power tools, a trip to the pharmacy for a blunt syringe will do! However, it your pen needs a thorough clean, there are a few other things you can buy that are readily available but we’ll get to those, so read on!

Our Preferred Ways to Keep your Fountain Pen Clean 

Firstly, (and if this isn’t already obvious), remove the cap from your fountain pen and unscrew the nib section from the barrel. Remove the ink cartridge or cartridge converter hold the nib section under running water until it runs clear. If your pen hasn’t been cleaned or used for a while, soaking it in a cup of water for at least a few hours will dislodge any dried up ink.

To clean your cartridge converter, you can draw water up and down using the piston until it’s clean. But, if you’re impatient, grab your blunt syringe, fill it with water and flush it out until it’s clean. Simple.

Hot tip: you can also use your syringe to flush out used ink cartridges and refill them with the ink of your choice.

Ok, back to the nib section. After soaking, put under the tap again until the water runs clear. Pop it on a paper towel to dry. Job done. 

What if the water isn’t running clear?

Great question! You may want to invest in something intended for this very situation. Check out the Sailor Fountain Pen Maintenance Kit. It includes a syringe with two attachments, which is awesome in itself but as well as getting the blunt needle attachment, you also get a small plastic tube which you can use to attach to the syringe. Why would you want to do this you ask! Because the tube then fits into the nib section, (just like an ink cartridge), allowing you to flush your pen easily, and best of all quickly!

Yes, it’s intended for use with Sailor Fountain Pens, that only take proprietary Sailor ink cartridges but here’s a little hack:

Cut the end off an empty ink cartridge that’s compatible with your Fountain Pen and pump water through the syringe and you’ll get a super flush, super-fast. Perfect!

Another option is the J. Herbin cleaning solution, which can be used for any fountain pen. 

  • Fill the converter with the cleaning fluid as if you were filling it with ink
  • Drain the cleaning fluid from the converter
  • Repeat the process until the liquid runs clear

And finally, if you don't have a fountain pen with a converter, the Platinum cleaning kit comes with a mini dropper (Platinum and universal), which you can fit where the ink cartridge normally goes. Then mix the sachet with 50 to 100ml of lukewarm water and follow the same steps as above. 

Storing Your Fountain Pen After Cleaning

Now you have your squeaky-clean fountain pen you’ll want to fill it with the many colours of ink cartridges available or with bottled ink and a cartridge converter. Don’t plan on using it for a while? A pen pouch will keep it clean and safe from accidental damage.

All of this might sound like a lot of work but it’s really not as complicated as it might seem. Like anything, practice makes perfect!

Alternatives To A Fountain Pen

If fountain pens are your true love but taking them with you to work or your local café makes you nervous, you can still have a great writing experience. We know these reliable and of course, stylish rollerball and ballpoint pens won’t disappoint.

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