Clean A Fountain Pen

Eventually when you collect pens that you use you will need to clean a fountain pen or two because you need to change ink colors, let ink dry inside so much it will not write correctly, or you purchase a pen with dried ink inside. Pen cleaning isn’t hard and only takes a few minutes as long as you don’t let things sit too long.

There are lots of ways to do fountain pen cleaning the method I will show you is the one I use that has worked extremely well for me over the years. Most pens made today are cartridge and/or converter pens. This pen cleaning method works well with other types of pens too. The first step is to disassemble the pen like so:

Disassembled fountain pen

Once the pen is apart to this degree you need to remove the converter. Cleaning fountain pen converters is easy. There are two general types of converters, screw in and push in. You can really mess up a converter that is a screw in by yanking it out thinking it is a push in. The best way is to treat all converters as screw in and unscrew it counter clockwise while pulling gently. Once the converter is out rinse the nib off, rinse the converter out, and then allow water to flow through the nib and feed like such:

flushing out the nib assembly

This gets all the liquid ink out to get ready for the next step. To really clean the pen out you need a small ultrasonic cleaner. To clean a fountain pen you do not need an expensive cleaner, the one I use I picked up for far less than $100 it works wonderfully for this:

an ultrasonic cleaner

Fill the ultrasonic cleaner to the fill line with regular water, then find a glass or bowl to place inside, I use pyrex graduated cups. Fill the cup up enough to cover the nib section and converter (if you have one) still disassembled, I like to use purified water, and for stubborn pens I will put a drop or two of my favorite fountain pen cleaning solution, ammonia (clear, not the lemon or pine scented, ammonia is excellent for pen cleaning) in the cup. That setup should look like this:

pen parts in the ultrasonic cleaner

Note that the nib of the pen is not on the bottom of the cup, never place the nib down so that it is on the bottom as this can damage the nib tipping. Let this run a few minutes, remove the parts and dry well, do not use a hairdryer or anything that generates heat or large amounts of air pressure.

Fill up your pen and give it a try! I do all my own pen cleaning and almost all my own pen maintenance for a wide variety of pens which you can see on my pens page.

This same method works with other filling systems as well although you need a way to suspend the pen in the liquid without the nib tip touching anything as you do not want to submerge lever, crescent, button, or piston fillers as the water will get into places where it should not go.

More warnings! Be very careful trying to clean a fountain pen, or any pen, made of Casein, be careful with hard rubber, never add chemicals like ammonia with pens made of anything other than plastic or metal, never submerge parts that you do not have to (caps etc) unless you have tried your pen cleaning methods with junkers first to see what will happen. Good luck!

If you can not get your pen working by cleaning, or somehow can not get it to work after cleaning, you may need professional pen maintenance.

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Now you know how to clean a fountain pen!

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