Like any well-tuned machine, fountain pens need periodic cleaning to keep them performing their best. This article will cover the basics of fountain pen cleaning, as well as some advanced techniques for experienced users.
If your fountain pen uses a cartridge or converter, remove it from the nib section. To save the ink and use it again after cleaning the pen, you can use a piece of tape to seal the opening of the cartridge or converter to keep it from drying out.
Use only cold or room-temperature water when cleaning a fountain pen. Hot water may warp or damage some components.
Regular tap water generally works fine, but distilled water may be safer if your tap water has a high mineral content.
If your pen is writing poorly or if you want to change inks, we recommend flushing the pen to give it a more thorough cleaning. "Flushing" simply means forcing water through the nib section until it is clean.
If the pen has a converter or built-in filling system, use the following instructions:
Place the nib in a cup of water.
If the pen does not have a converter or built-in filling system but does use either Platinum or standard international ink cartridges (Diamine, J. Herbin, Kaweco, Pelikan, etc.), you can also use the above instructions, using the cleaning bulb from one of the Platinum Fountain Pen Ink Cleaner Kits instead of a converter.
For other cartridge fountain pens, you may be able to create an improvised cleaning syringe by cutting off the end of an empty ink cartridge and fitting it to either a bulb or Luer lock syringe, available at most drugstores. Install the cartridge-syringe assembly into the nib section and use it to flush the pen. Note that the fit between the cartridge and syringe must be airtight for this to work.
If this trick does not work, you can still give the pen a more thorough cleaning by combining the basic cleaning method with one or both of the following advanced techniques.
Sometimes water alone isn't enough to clean out a pen completely. Several companies make cleaning solutions specifically designed for pens:
- Step 1: Rinse and flush or soak the nib section of the pen with plain water using the instructions from the previous sections.
- Step 2: Prepare the cleaning solution, following any instructions listed on its packaging. To make the solution last longer, transfer a few milliliters to a smaller bottle or vial to use and save the rest for future cleanings.
- Step 3: Soak the nib section in the cleaning solution. If the pen has a converter or built-in filling system, use it to pull the cleaning solution into the nib section. Note: J. Herbin recommends soaking a pen for 5 minutes using its solution. Speedball recommends 30 minutes for its solution, and Platinum suggests soaking for up to 24 hours with its solution. In our experience, all three cleaners perform similarly, and there shouldn't be any harm in letting your pen soak for longer than the recommended time.
- Step 4: Rinse and flush or soak the nib section with plain water. Any cleaning solution left in the pen may interfere with ink flow.
- Step 5: Dry the nib section and reassemble the pen.
You can also mix your own cleaning solution using common household cleaners:
- Dishwashing Soap: Mixing a small amount of dishwashing soap with water will create a safe and effective pen cleaning solution.
- Ammonia: For very tough clogs or inks that are particularly hard to clean, you can use a 10-to-1 mixture of water and ammonia. Do not use ammonia to clean aluminum, brass, or copper pen components, since ammonia can corrode these metals.
- Bleach: If all else fails, you can try cleaning the pen with a very diluted (20-to-1 or so) mixture of water and bleach. Bleach can be damaging to some pen components, so it should only be used as a last resort. Never use ammonia and bleach together, as they will react to form toxic vapors.
With regular care and cleaning, a fountain pen can last a lifetime and keep on writing just as well as when it was new. Do you have any thoughts or questions about fountain pen maintenance? Leave a comment and let us know!
|When to clean your fountain pen||Every 4-8 weeks or whenever you are changing ink|
|When to do a basic cleaning||If your pen is writing well and you will not be changing inks|
|When to flush your fountain pen||If your pen is writing poorly or if you will be changing inks|
|Fountain pen cleaning solutions||J. Herbin, Platinum, Speedball|
comments powered by Disqus