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How to Clean a Fountain Pen?

how to clean a fountain pen

Unlike regular ballpoint pens, fountain pens need occasional cleaning so they can work properly every time. If you do not clean your fountain pens, it will only take some time before they stop writing altogether. Also, unlike ballpoint pens, popular brands of fountain pens are very expensive.

This article will teach you how to clean a fountain pen properly. Don’t worry. It is not that difficult at all and you will not need any fancy tools to do it. In addition, you will also be learning how you can maintain your fountain pen so that it will last for a long time.

Step-by-Step Guide

Cleaning a Cartridge Fountain Pen

cleaning a cartridge fountain pen

Cartridge-filling fountain pens are some of the most popular and convenient to use fountain pens in the market today. If you are a beginner fountain pen user, cartridge-filling pens should be on top of your list.

Here is how to clean a fountain pen nib that uses ink cartridges.

What to prepare:

  • The fountain pen you will be cleaning
  • Tap water
  • Paper towels

Detailed steps:

Step 1: Disassemble the pen. Unscrew the front part of the pen – the specific part that contains the nib. Remove the cartridge and dispose of it. You can also reuse the cartridge later if you want. A syringe to inject ink back into the cartridge is also necessary.

Step 2: Rinse the nib. Place the front part of the pen under cold running water. Make sure that the nib is pointing down. You will notice that the water is running black (or whatever color you had in the pen before). Continue holding the pen under the tap until the water runs clear.

Step 3: Let the nib air dry. Get a paper towel and gently wipe the nib. After that, place the pen on top of a paper towel or two and let it air dry. You can also take a small cup, line the bottom with a paper towel, and place the pen with the nib pointing down. With the help of capillary action and gravity, the water will go down and out of the tip, drying the pen faster.

Step 4: Reassemble the pen. Once the pen is completely dry, you can install a fresh ink cartridge, screw the pen assembly back into the pen barrel, and start writing again.

Cleaning a Piston Ink Converter

cleaning a piston ink converter

If you have a pen that uses a piston ink converter, you should clean that, too. Sometimes, ink or water can get stuck behind the piston and can affect the performance of the pen.

What to prepare:

  • The fountain pen piston converter
  • Tap water
  • Cotton swabs
  • Paper towels
  • Silicone grease (optional)

Detailed steps:

Step 1: Disassemble the converter. Take the converter off the pen and clean the nib regularly. Proceed to disassemble the piston converter, which you can do by simply twisting the piston counterclockwise all the way out until it pops out of the barrel.

Step 2: Rinse the parts under running tap water. Place the parts of the converter under running water until the water runs clear. Dry the parts gently using paper towels.

Step 3: Use a cotton swab to clean the converter. Clean the converter further using a cotton swab dipped in some rubbing alcohol. Insert the cotton swab inside the converter and scrub it until there are no traces of ink left. You should also use cotton swabs to clean the piston.

Step 4: Grease the piston (optional). Before you return the piston to its housing, you can brush a bit of silicone grease on the O-ring to make sure that the piston can slide freely. This will also improve the seal that the O-ring makes inside the cylinder.

Step 5: Reassemble the pen. After you screw the piston back into the cylinder, you can then pump ink back into the converter, and reattach it to the pen assembly. After which, you can put the rest of the pen back together.

Additional Tips and Tricks for Cleaning Fountain Pens

  • Use distilled water – If you have hard water in your tap, it might leave mineral deposits in the ink feed or inside the barrel when the water dries. These mineral deposits can clog the feed and cause problems with the ink flow. If that is the case, use distilled water to clean your pens instead of tap water.
  • Use only cold or room – temperature water when you are cleaning your pens – Hot water may cause some components of the pen to warp out of shape and prevent it from working properly.
  • If you need to clean your fountain pen with plenty of ink inside the cartridge or converter, you can save it for later by placing a bit of tape on the opening – This will prevent the ink from drying out while you are waiting for the pen to dry after you wash it.
  • Give the pen a thorough cleaning at least once every week – Pigmented, metallic, or shimmering inks are not necessarily harmful to fountain pens. However, if you will not be using the pen for around a week or so, you should flush the pen and give it a thorough cleaning to keep the ink from clogging the pen.
  • Use a commercial pen cleaning solution for thorough and deep cleaning – You can buy this product in most stationery stores. To use this product, rinse your pen’s components and then soak them in the solution. Follow the instructions regarding the amount of time you let the pens soak in the solution but you can leave them in much longer for tough stains.


Now that you know how to clean a fountain pen the right way you can now ensure that it will work properly and that it will continue to do so for a very long time. As you found out, cleaning fountain pens is not complicated at all. You only need clean water and a couple of simple tools.

Now that you know what to do, you should start cleaning your pens immediately. You will be surprised at how much better your pens will work afterward.