How to store your pen collection

A Black woman wearing a white top, sat at a desk with a pen in her hand, thinking

Storing your pens correctly can prevent a variety of problems, such as pens drying out or unwanted ink stains and marks on fabric.

The good news is, it is easy to store pens in a manner that will facilitate long life and minimal issues — however, the perfect storage solution varies between writing tools, so we’ll break it down for you below.

How to store ballpoint pens

The Graf von Faber-Castell Guilloche ballpoint pen in Turquoise

The Graf von Faber-Castell Guilloche ballpoint pen in Turquoise

Ballpoint pens contain a viscous oil-based ink and, because of this, ballpoints should be stored vertically with the tip pointing downwards — a pen pot works well for this purpose; these are available in all shapes and sizes to suit your desk and décor.

Storing ballpoint pens in this way prevents leaks and stop the pens from drying out, as the heavier, slower-moving ink will be ready at the tip when you need it.

If your ballpoint pen is retractable or comes with a cap, always retract or replace the lid before storage — they are supplied for a reason!

How to store rollerball pens

Unlike ballpoints, rollerball pens contain water-based liquid ink and should therefore be stored in a horizontal position.

On their side, rollerballs are less likely to leak or dry out than in either vertical position (tip-up or tip-down).

Again, remember to replace the supplied cap after each use to help prevent dryness.

How to store gel pens

A set of colourful gel pens against a white background

In theory, gel pens should be stored vertically with the nib facing upwards to prevent leaks.

However, they are commonly stored horizontally in pencil cases without much issue.

If you use your gel pens frequently, a pencil case is probably fine, but otherwise, we’d recommend vertical storage to avoid issues.

When stored vertically, it may take 30 seconds or so for the ink to flow again when a gel pen is next in use.

Always replace caps after use.

How to store fountain pens

Fountain pens are best stored horizontally to prevent leaks — this can be in a pen case, presentation case, shelf, or drawer.

If you don’t intend to use a fountain pen again for a fortnight or more, it would also be wise to clean your fountain pen before storing it — otherwise, you may experience issues with dryness when you pick it up to write again.

If you have taken a fountain pen out of storage and it is dry, take a look at our blog post: ‘How to revive a dry fountain pen’.

It goes without saying that the cap should be replaced immediately on fountain pens after each use.

How to store highlighters

Due to their fibre tips, highlighters are best stored vertically with their tip down to prevent dryness.

Replace the cap immediately after each use.

How to store brush pens

A pack of 18 Tombow ABT dual brush pens in Pastel

A pack of 18 Tombow ABT dual brush pens in Pastel

The ink type can vary in brush pens, but store your brush pens horizontally to play it safe as this won’t do any harm whatever the ink.

Double-ended brush pens such as the Tombow ABT dual brush pens will significantly benefit from being stored on their side to enable ink flow to both ends.

Pens used for art are particularly prone to the lids being left off for extended periods; getting into the habit of replacing them straight away after use will save you money as you won’t have to replace your art supplies as frequently.


How do you store your pens and what issues have you come across? Let us know in the comments.

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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