is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

How to Clean a Calligraphy Pen (The Ultimate Guide)

how to clean a calligraphy pen
Using a calligraphy pen, especially the one you have to dip in ink frequently, is a messy business. If you are a serious calligraphy artist, you know the value of cleaning your calligraphy pens. Cleaning them ensures that they will last as long as possible and provide the most usability. A well-maintained dip pen writes smoothly and gives the best results. This post will teach you how to clean a calligraphy pen; you can get your calligraphy dip pen perfectly cleaned with just a pen cleaner and a few household items.

Let’s dive right in!

How to Clean Calligraphy Pen Nibs

Materials Needed

The very short list of materials you need are the following:

  • Pen cleaner
  • Warm water
  • Sponge or toothbrush
  • Liquid dish soap or toothpaste
  • Lint-free cloth
  • Potato

All of these items are readily available. They are everyday household items, except for the pen cleaner, which you can easily find online or in office supply stores.

Step 1: Prep the Pen

If your calligraphy pen is not writing smoothly, the most common reason is that ink dried in the nib. Ink dries if the pen has not been used for an extended period while the reservoir contains ink. For this reason, you should always clean your calligraphy dip pen after every use.

Carefully remove the nib from the handle. If the handle has ink on it, it’s best to wipe it off.

Step 2: Rinse the Nib

Rinse the nib with flowing warm water. The warm water should soften the dried and hardened ink and get it flowing. A lot of the time, this step is enough to get your calligraphy pen nib working again. However, if it does not, move on to the other steps in the guide.

Step 3: Lightly Clean and Rinse the Nib

To deep clean the nib, you can use either the sponge with dish soap or a toothbrush with toothpaste.

If you are using a sponge, moisten it with warm water and squeeze a button-sized drop of dish soap on it. Get the sponge filled with suds and gently wipe the nib with it. If the nib has a removable ink reservoir, remove and clean it separately. If it is not, try to get under it and clean out the dried ink; be careful not to bend the reservoir, though, as that can do irreparable damage.

If you are using a toothbrush and toothpaste, moisten the toothbrush, apply toothpaste to it, and do the same steps as with a sponge. A softly-bristled toothbrush is preferable; it will less likely do any damage.

After getting the dried ink out of the nib, rinse it with running warm water. Make sure to get all of the suds or toothpaste out of it.

Step 4: Dry the Nib

After a thorough rinse, dry the nib with a lint-free cloth. If the fabric has lint, its fibers may get stuck in and bend the nib beyond repair. Lint can also prevent the nib from writing well.

The best way to dry the warm water from the reservoir is by gliding the nib across the cloth as if writing with it. Nibs function this way: if you stroke it across a surface as if writing, the liquid in the reservoir will flow out.

Step 5: Attach Nib to Handle and Write

To find out of your cleaning attempt is successful, attach the nib back to the handle and write. If you cleaned the nib properly, ink should flow out of it smoothly (if you’re using it correctly, that is). If the ink does not flow smoothly, you may be having one of two possible issues.

The first possibility is that you didn’t clean the nib effectively. If this is the case, go back to the first step of the guide and repeat the cleaning process.

The second possibility is you’ve damaged the nib along the way. You can either get it repaired or replaced if this is the case.

Alternative Method to Cleaning a Calligraphy Pen Nib

how to clean calligraphy pen nibs

Another way to clean a calligraphy pen nib is with a pen cleaner. Pen cleaners are made explicitly for dried ink in a fountain, calligraphy, or technical pen. You can get a pen cleaner from office supplies stores or online. Here’s how to use them:

Step 1: Dip Nib in Pen Cleaner

Dip the nib in the bottle of pen cleaner without removing it from the handle. You don’t have to remove it from the handle, so you won’t have to fish it out and spill the cleaner. Leave the nib in the cleaner for thirty minutes or more, depending on the severity of the dried ink.

Step 2: Rinse the Nib

Rinse the nib with warm water to wash off the pen cleaner. If you don’t rinse off and dry the nib, it may rust and become useless.

How to Clean a Calligraphy Pen After Every Use

You have to clean your calligraphy pen after every use. Unfortunately, the only way to do this is by going through the five steps enumerated above. But with any luck, you need only do steps one, two, four, and five. Remove the nib from the handle and rinse it with flowing warm water. If you managed to remove all the ink, you could dry it and attach it back to the handle.

How to Clean a Brand New Calligraphy Pen Nib

Brand new calligraphy pen nibs have oils that the manufacturers put on them to protect them during pre-sale storage. Unfortunately, these oils and ink don’t mix well. The oil might prevent the nib from functioning well. Fortunately, there is an easy fix for this.

Step 1: Stick the Nib in a Potato

The starchy quality of a potato absorbs oil. Stick the nib in a potato for no more than fifteen minutes; otherwise, it may rust. Stick the end of the nib that you attach to the calligraphy pen handle and not the writing end.

Step 2: Rinse and Dry the Nib

After fifteen minutes, rinse the nib to get the starch off; the starch may cause rust. Dry the nib with a lint-free cloth, and it is ready for use.


Calligraphy dip pen maintenance is vital. Thankfully, it is not hard. This complete how to clean a calligraphy pen guide gives you all the information you need to keep your nibs in peak working condition.

Leave a Comment