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How to Clean a Fountain Pen Nib Properly? – 3 Steps

Written by Robert S. Brown / Fact checked by Helen B. Harris

how to clean a fountain pen nib

Part of the basic things that a fountain pen owner has to take care of are cleaning and maintenance. In this article, let’s focus on nib cleaning.

Here, I will show you how to clean a fountain pen nib in various ways. From the basics to the advanced cleaning processes and other means to clean, take good care of a fountain pen so you can enjoy it longer.

Ways to Clean a Fountain Pen Nib

1. Regular Nib Cleaning


Step 1: Unscrew the grip section that has the nib.

Step 2: Pen flushing:

Cartridge Type


  1. Remove and dispose of the cartridge.
  2. Put the grip section with nibs facing down under the faucet with running water until you see no ink.

Piston Type


  1. Have two cups ready. Then, fill the first cup with water. Leave the other empty, this will serve as your dirty cup.
  2. If there is still ink left in the barrel, drain the ink out into the empty cup.
  3. Dip the nib section into the cup of clean water and pull/unscrew the piston knob to draw water in.
  4. Drain the tinted water into the dirty cup.
  5. Repeat this 5-6 times or until the water is clear.

Eyedropper Type


  1. Hold the grip section upside down and wash it under the faucet with a steady flow of water.
  2. Wait until there is no ink dripping out of the nib.

Step 3: Let it dry.

You should use a paper towel or lint-free cloth to pat it dry.

Then, place it over a paper towel and leave it overnight to completely dry. You can have this set up on a cup as well. This will help drain the water along the feed and grip section faster.

2. Advanced Nib Cleaning


In these methods, you should have some helpful tools and supplies that will not only clean the nib of a fountain pen effectively but can likewise resolve other fountain pen issues.

It’s advisable to fix a clogged fountain pen and remove stubborn inks with these following items.

  • Pen Flush
  • Maintenance Kit
  • Ultrasonic Cleaner

Pen Flush or Pen Cleaner


This cleaning supply can be bought in bottles, sachets, or kits. It comes in a liquid format with Ammonium Hydroxide as its active ingredient.

Generally, it’s formulated to clean dried ink from nibs due to long storage, permanent inks, or glitters from the shimmery one. Depending on the volume, a fountain pen cleaner can cost $10 to a bit over $20.


  • Avoid touching the solution, it may cause skin and eye irritations.
  • Never soak nibs made with aluminum, copper, or brass on nib cleaners as it can potentially cause corrosion.

How to use it:

  1. Initially, rinse your nibs with water.
  2. Read the instructions in the container. For the most part, it’s ready to use. However, other kits have to be diluted with water.
  3. Pour a small amount of the solution into a small cup or a vial.
  4. Dip the nib or the entire grip section into the solution. Some kits are accompanied by custom-fit bulbs or syringes that can help you flush the liquid faster.
  5. For the converter and piston type, fill the fountain pen with the solution and flush it. Repeat the process until you see no ink traces.
  6. Rinse it with water.
  7. Dry it like usual.

Fountain Pen Cleaning Kit /Maintenance Kit


A maintenance kit is typically composed of a syringe, bulb, vials, or adaptors that can further facilitate thorough cleaning. Some kits also include pen cleaners.

Regular cleaning can leave excess water that may not harm the pen but can contaminate or dilute the ink on the next refill. With the help of these tools, you can easily load and drain water out more efficiently.

These kits work well with cartridge and converter types with international short sizes. However, some are tailor-made for specific brands, like Kaweco cleansing syringes and Sailor fountain pen maintenance kits. Check the size before you purchase.

How to use it:

  1. Remove the cartridge or converter.
  2. Insert the cartridge adaptor.
  3. Prepare a cup of water and another cup for the wastewater.
  4. If you opt to use a nib cleaner, it’s time to add it to the water.
  5. Dip the nib into the cup with clean water. Pull the syringe and fill it all the way.
  6. Drain the tinted water into the empty cup.
  7. Repeat the process until the water goes clear. If you are using a nib cleaning solution, remember to rinse it with water.

Ultrasonic Cleaner


This is not always needed but it’s best used for overall maintenance, de-inking old fountain pens, and loosening tightly fitted parts.

This instrument uses vibration to form tiny bubbles that can pass through every pit and crevice of your nib that’s not accessible when doing regular cleaning.

Depending on the condition, this instrument can clean multiple nibs in minutes. Aside from cleaning inked pen nibs, it can also clean jewelry. They’re not that cheap, a pretty decent one can cost about $40.

Reminder: Don’t use this on parts with stone settings, inlays, attachments, or other delicate embellishments.

How to use it:

  1. Remove the nib or the grip section and clean it with water.
  2. Fill the tub with water up to the recommended level. Usually, it has an indicative marking. Don’t go over that mark.
  3. Place the inked nibs on the tray. Make sure there’s still space in between to avoid the nibs from colliding with each other.
  4. Alternatively, you can use a small glass with a pen flush to soak the nibs and put the glass in the tray.
  5. Close the lid and plug it in.
  6. Turn it on and wait till it’s complete.
  7. Remove the nibs and air dry.


How to make a DIY fountain pen flush?

You can make your own pen flush using simple household materials such as water, dishwashing liquid, and 5% Ammonia.

After you gather all these materials, carefully follow the following steps:

  1. Get a large jar.
  2. Add and mix 1 part of 5% Ammonia in 9 parts of water.
  3. Add 4 to 8 drops of dishwashing liquid.
  4. Mix well and cover.
  5. Have it labeled and keep it out of children’s reach.
  6. Use this after washing your nibs with water.

How to remove the fountain pen nib?

Most nibs are friction fit and all you have to do is to get a piece of rubber, hold the nib with your point finger and the thumb then pull it straight up.

For screw-type nibs, hold the nib firmly and twist the grip section counterclockwise. Moreover, you can’t always pull or unscrew the nib, some high-end fountain pens require special tools. Consult your dealer before doing so.

How often do you need to clean a fountain pen nib?

Generally, a fountain pen has to be cleaned every two weeks or once every quarter. However, you can routinely clean it before refilling, especially when you need to change ink colors.

In addition, to keep your fountain pens in prime condition, having them cleaned by professionals once a year is highly recommended.


Cleaning fountain pen nibs can be as simple as using water and some lint-free cloth or tissue. However, when you have a badly clogged nib, extra stubborn inks, and antique pens you surely need more than just water.

How to clean a fountain pen nib is really up to you. Depending on your situation or what your fountain pen needs, there are plenty of options.

Using a pen flush plus some maintenance kit is the easiest way to go but if that doesn’t work, adding an ultrasonic cleaner to your cleaning system might just be the answer.

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