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How to Get a Ballpoint Pen to Work Again in 5 Minutes

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

how to get a ballpoint pen to work again

Ballpoint pens are prevalent writing tools due to their convenience and reliability. However, many people encounter frustrating issues with their pens like pen has ink but won’t write. This may be due to ink clogs, skips, and dried-out tips.

So, how to get a ballpoint pen to work again? You can restore your pen’s functionality and enjoy smooth, uninterrupted writing by following a few troubleshooting techniques, such as heat, water, or gentle pressure.

Stay tuned to discover possible problems and effective methods to fix pen ink flow and get a pen to write again!

What to Prepare? 


  • Tissue/clean cloth
  • Alcohol
  • Hot water
  • Piece of paper

Ways to Get a Ballpoint Pen to Work Again

</p> <h3>1.  Air bubble in the cartridge</h3> <p>


An air bubble trapped in the cartridge hinders the ink flow, which is one of the reasons why the ballpoint pen stopped working. During the manufacturing process, air may get trapped inside the cartridge, impeding the ink’s path to the pen’s tip.

To make a ballpoint pen write darker and smoother, follow this guide!


  1. Hold the pen vertically with the tip facing downwards.
  2. Gently tap the top of the pen on a hard surface to dislodge the air bubble and get ink out of a pen fast.
  3. Alternatively, unscrew the pen and press the tip against a tissue to release the trapped air.
  4. Recap the pen and try writing again.
</p> <h3>2. Clogged ink</h3> <p>


A pen full of ink won’t write mostly because the ink cartridge is likely clogged.

Over time, ink residue or debris can accumulate in the pen, causing clogs that obstruct the ink flow. This can lead to inconsistent or no ink being dispensed. To fix a pen that isn’t writing, follow the solution below.

Using Alcohol


  1. Gather a piece of paper towel, rubbing alcohol, and a cotton ball or pad.
  2. Gently wipe the tip of the pen with a piece of paper towel to remove any excess ink.
  3. Pour a small amount of rubbing alcohol onto the cotton ball or pad. Be cautious not to saturate it.
  4. Roll the tip of the pen on the cotton ball or pad, ensuring that the rubbing alcohol makes contact with the clogged ink. Apply gentle pressure as you roll.
  5. Continue rolling the tip until you notice the ink starting to dissolve and clear up. The rubbing alcohol helps break down the clog.
  6. Test the pen on scrap paper to ensure the ink flows smoothly.



Another way to resolve a clogged ink nib issue is by applying more pressure and drawing scribbles and vertical lines on a piece of paper.

By exerting additional pressure while creating random scribbles and vertical lines, you encourage the ink to flow more forcefully, potentially clearing the clog.

</p> <h3>3. Dropped pen</h3> <p>


Why do pens stop working when dropped? Accidental dropping of a ballpoint pen can cause internal damage, leading to a non-functional pen. The impact from the fall can misalign or bend the delicate components, disrupting the ink flow.


  1. Examine the pen closely for any visible damage, such as a bent or misaligned tip.
  2. If the tip is bent, gently straighten it using your fingers or a pair of pliers.
  3. Check if the ink cartridge is still properly seated in the pen. Realign or reinsert it if necessary.
  4. If the pen shows severe damage, it’s necessary to replace it with a new one.
</p> <h3>4. Dried-out pen</h3> <p>

If you find the ink not coming out of the pen, the pen has likely dried out.

Leaving a ballpoint pen unused for an extended period can cause the ink to dry out, resulting in poor or no ink flow. The ink inside the cartridge evaporates over time, leaving behind dried ink that blocks the ink channels.

To fix a dried out pen, there are two common ways.

Using Hot Water


  1. You will need a glass of hot water and a clean cloth or tissue.
  2. Place the pen’s tip into the glass of hot water, ensuring that the water covers the dried-out portion.
  3. Leave the pen submerged for a few minutes, allowing the heat from the water to soften the dried ink inside that will make ink come out of a pen.
  4. Carefully remove the pen from the water and use a clean cloth or tissue to gently wipe the tip
  5. Test the pen on a piece of paper

Using Lighter Flame


  1. To make ink come out of a pen, light the lighter or matchstick and hold the pen’s tip close enough to the flame to generate heat but without touching it.
  2. Rotate the pen to heat all sides of the tip evenly.
  3. Test the pen by writing on a piece of paper.

Tips For Preventing Ballpoint Pens From Stopping To WorkTips


To prevent the problems with ink not coming out of pen or not working, here are some tips!

  • Store properly: Keep your pens capped when not in use to prevent them from drying out.
  • Avoid extreme temperatures: Keep your pens away from extreme heat or cold, as it can affect the ink flow.
  • Use regularly: Regularly use your ballpoint pens to keep the ink flowing smoothly.
  • Clean pen regularly: Wipe the pen’s tip with a clean cloth or tissue to remove any debris that could clog the ink flow.
  • Avoid excessive pressure: Avoid applying excessive pressure while writing, as it can damage the pen’s mechanism.


Knowing how to get a ballpoint pen to work again can save you from the frustration of a non-functional pen.

By understanding common issues such as air bubbles, clogged ink, pen drops, and dried-out ink, you can tackle these problems and get a pen to work again effectively.

Regular maintenance and proper storage are essential for keeping your pens in good working condition.

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