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How to Remove Dried Ink from Nibs? Step-by-Step

how to clean dried ink from nibs

Yes, writing nibs are somewhat cheap but that is not an excuse to just throw them away because they are dirty. You need to know how to remove dried ink from nibs so you can get the most use out of them. In addition, even though they are not expensive, the costs do pile up eventually.

It is not true that you need to throw out writing nibs just because they got a bit dirty. You might be surprised at just how easy it is to clean your writing nibs. Once you know how, you might just start cleaning the ones that you were planning to throw out earlier.

Step-by-Step Guide to Removing Dried Ink

Using Dishwashing Soap and a Sponge

clean nibs using dishwashing soap

This is the most basic but still quite effective way to clean dirty calligraphy nibs. In addition, you will only be using things that you already have in your home.

What to prepare:

  • Dishwashing soap – Regular liquid dishwashing soap will do.
  • Tap water – Warm tap water is fine.

Detailed steps:

Step 1 – Soak the dirty nibs

The first step in removing dried ink from nibs is to soak the dirty nibs in some warm and soapy water. You may need to soak the nibs for a couple of minutes to loosen the dried ink.

Step 2 – Scrub the nibs using a sponge

  • Cleaning nibs with removable reservoirs
  • Remove the reservoir from the nib.
  • Scrub the two pieces separately and carefully.
  • Cleaning nibs with non-removable reservoirs
  • Scrub the nib normally but be very careful so you will not end up blending the pieces of the nib.

Step 3 – Rinse the nibs thoroughly

Rinse each cleaned nib under running water. Make sure that there are no traces of detergent left on the nibs.

Step 4 – Let the nibs dry

After rinsing, place the clean nibs on a soft towel to soak up the excess water. Gently wipe the nibs with a soft towel. If you are using nibs with removable reservoirs, you can reassemble them once each piece is completely dry.

Using an Old Toothbrush and White Toothpaste

clean nibs using toothbrush

If you are dealing with really thick ink stains, you can use this method. White toothpaste usually contains baking soda to serve as a mild abrasive to clean the surface of your teeth gently.

What to prepare:

An old toothbrush – Preferably, you should use a toothbrush with soft bristles. Hard bristles might bend the nibs.

Toothpaste – You will need to use white toothpaste, not gel ones.

Detailed steps:

Step 1 – Put the nibs on an old nib holder

You will be scrubbing the nibs later using the toothbrush, and placing the nibs on an old holder will make them easier to hold.

Step 2 – Scrub the nibs using the toothbrush

Place a bit of toothpaste on the old toothbrush. Wet it a bit with some water and proceed to scrub the dirty nibs. Do not use too much pressure when scrubbing and stop once all the ink stains are gone.

Step 3 – Remove the nib from the holder and rinse them thoroughly

You will be cleaning the nibs one by one. After you clean each nib, remove it from the holder and put a dirty one back in its place. Rinse the nibs thoroughly and then place them on a clean towel.

Step 4 – Dry the nibs thoroughly

Wipe each nib thoroughly using paper towels or a clean microfiber towel.

Using Pen Cleaner / Flushing Solution

clean nibs using pen cleaner

By far, this is the easiest way to clean your fountain pen or calligraphy nibs. However, it might take a bit longer, especially if the ink has gotten really dry on the nibs.

What to prepare:

  • Pen cleaning solution – You can find this product in most stationery stores.
  • A small jar – For soaking the dirty nibs

Detailed steps:

Step 1 – Submerge the dirty nibs in the cleaning solution

Fill a small jar halfway with the cleaning solution. After that, place the dirty calligraphy nibs in the solution. Ideally, you should place the nibs in the solution right after every use.

Step 2 – Wait for the cleaning solution to get to work

If there are minimal ink stains, you might only need to wait for around 15 minutes or so. However, if the ink has been left to dry for a couple of days, and if it’s quite thick, you may need to wait for up to an hour.

Step 3 – Drain the nibs and rinse them thoroughly

Once the nibs are clean, take them out of the cleaning solution. Rinse the nibs under some running water and dry them thoroughly using a soft microfiber towel.

Helpful Tips

  • Create your own pen-cleaning solution by mixing one part ammonia with nine parts water. If this is a bit too strong, add more water.
  • When soaking your nibs in soapy water, always use either cold or warm water. Never use boiling water as it can cause the metals in the nib to expand and deform.


Now that you found out how to remove dried ink from nibs and how easy it is to do. You might want to rethink throwing your dirty nibs and try to clean them and get a bit more use out of them.

You can now practice your calligraphy and fountain pen writing as much as you want without spending too much on nibs.