How to clean your fountain pen nib


Your fountain pen’s nib should be regularly cleaned to ensure it’s free from dried ink; once a month is recommended, and certainly at least once every two months, but obviously if you have any problems or issues writing with your fountain pen then it may be that it needs to be cleaned sooner, and in a more intense manner.

This guide is for a general nib clean, for maintenance purposes, or for when you are changing your ink and need to flush all remains of the old colour or brand out.

  • Take your fountain pen apart and keep hold of the grip section which features the nib. Next, remove the cartridge or converter if there is one. You can preserve the ink inside either of these by covering the open end with a piece of cling film, then replace them in the pen when you have finished the cleaning process.
  • Hold the grip section, nib down, directly under cold running water for 10 seconds. Or you can use a syringe for this step, for a more direct flow. You may use room temperature water from a jug if you prefer, but never use hot water as this risks damage to your nib.
  • Fill a beaker with clean water (either tap or distilled) and place the nib in it. Use a glass if you don’t own a beaker. Make sure the water level covers the nib entirely. As the water becomes saturated with ink, empty the water and refill the beaker with fresh water. Repeat until the water stays clear for 60 minutes. Note: ink ingredients vary, and so this process can vary in time dramatically.
  • If your nib is particularly inky, leave it to soak overnight in a mixture made up of water and one teaspoon of ammonia. However, do not do this with any fountain pens which feature aluminium parts, as damage can occur.
  • Remove the nib from the water and gently prop it up inside a clean, dry beaker which has something soft and absorbent on its base; be that some kitchen paper, cloth, or similar. Leave it there to dry fully, for 2 full days. Replace the kitchen paper (or similar) during the process if it gets saturated.
  • Once dry, your pen is ready to be reassembled. Don’t forget to insert a cartridge or converter, if required, but don’t do this if you won’t be using your pen in the near future. Then, store your pen in a nib-upward position, ready for use.

The Pen Company supplies a range of pen-cleaning utensils to keep your writing tools in perfect condition.

Lucy is our lead editor and has been passionate about stationery since childhood. She has a particular fondness for rollerball and calligraphy pens and is a keen advocate of snail mail.

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