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How to Clean Paint Pens Properly: A Step-by-step Guide

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

how to clean paint pens

Have you ever gone past a store and noticed that their offers were written on a window? If so, did you wonder how they were able to draw on those windows without worrying that it would be damaged by some environmental factors?

Well, the answer is that they probably used paint pens. In fact, if you want to have something written permanently on a surface, paint pens can be a useful tool that you should take into consideration.

Nowadays, paint pens are even used to decorate clothing, glass furniture, scrap books, etc. Unlike other permanent markers, paint pens often contain oil-based ink that requires thorough shaking before usage.

However, using a paint pen for a long period of time without any proper cleaning might result in clogging. Thus, this article will show you how to fix dried out paint markers with step-by-step introductions:

  • Clean The Nibs: Dip the tip of your markers into clean water or paint thinner.
  • Replace The Nibs: Pull out the marker nibs and replace with a new one. Shake the marker thoroughly and apply some pressure on the tips to let ink flow.
  • Thin The Marker Paint: Add a few drops of paint thinner to the marker.
  • Rinse The Marker Cap: Remove the dirty cap and soak it into clean water to remove any paint.

Now, let’s get started with the first steps on how to clean paint pens!

Steps to Clean Paint Pens

Materials That You Will Need


First thing first, gather all the necessary materials. Paint thinner is important to loosen the paint that clogs your markers. However, if you don’t have any paint thinner readily available, warm water will also work. Cold water might not work that well.

Additionally, you will need a small cup or bowl to contain the liquid products as well as paper towels to clean up everything afterward. You might also want to use an eyedropper to control the amount of paint thinner or water added to the tips of your paint pens.

Finally, a pair of tweezers will help you remove any parts of the marker that needs to be cleaned. Once you have everything ready, proceed to the following section to learn how to clean paint marker nibs.

Step 1: Clean The Nibs

Making sure your marker nibs are completely clean is the most important thing because it will determine whether the paint is able to flow outside through the tips or not. Take your time on this step so all dried paint is removed from the nibs.

  • Pour some paint thinner or warm water into a small container so the water level is higher than the length of your paint pen.
  • Remove your marker cap.
  • Hold the marker upside down and dip the tip into the cup of water/paint thinner. Make sure that the nib is totally immersed in the solution.
  • Gently swirl the marker around a couple times until you see the water becomes dirtier, which shows that the clogged paint is coming out.
  • Take the marker out and use a piece of paper towel to absorb all residual water. Apply some pressure to the tip so all the water is absorbed. However, do NOT put too much pressure if you don’t want to damage your pen nib.
  • Test the paint pen on a piece of scrap paper to see if it works. Feel free to repeat the steps several times until your pen tip is completely cleaned.

Another method on how to clean a paint pen tip is to completely remove it from your pen. You can use your hand or a pair of tweezers to pull the marker tip out from the pen and soak it in clean water for a couple minutes. Then, carry out step 5 and 6 above.

Step 2: Replace the Nibs


In the case of old markers, replacing a new tip might be a better idea since the old one might have been damaged and can no longer function well. In this replacement process, you will need a pair of tweezers and of course, a newly purchased paint pen tip.

  • Remove the marker cap.
  • Hold the marker body with one hand and the tweezers with the other.
  • Firmly grasp the pen nib using the tweezers and pull it straight out. Do NOT wiggle the nib while removing it so you don’t damage the tip.
  • Push the new paint maker nib into the marker and put the cap back on.
  • Shake the whole marker vigorously for one minute so the ink flows and seeps into the marker tip.
  • Press the pen tip against a piece of paper a few times until the tip is filled with paint.

Step 3: Thin the Marker Paint

This step will help loosen the thick or dried paint inside the marker so the ink flow will be smoother while you are writing. Follow these steps to learn how to thin your marker paint:

  • Remove the marker cap as well as its nib. Refer to the instructed steps in the previous section for more information.
  • Fill the eye dropper with some paint thinner.
  • Gradually drop one or two drops of paint thinner into the marker.
  • Put the marker tip back to the marker and put the cap on.
  • Shake the marker vigorously for a few minutes so the paint thinner is completely mixed with the paint.

Step 4: Rinse the Marker Cap


The last step to finish cleaning your paint marker is to deal with the cap. Once again, have your pair of tweezers and some pieces of paper ready.

  • Remove the cap of your paint pen using the tweezers. You might need to put some effort in opening the cap. Ask for help from others if it is too tight.
  • Pour warm water into a small container and soak your cap in it. Notice that there is a tiny piece of sponge inside; you want to keep an eye on this so you won’t lose it.
  • After a few minutes, take the cap out and rinse it under warm tap water until you see that there is no paint left.
  • Screw the cap along with the little sponge and return the other parts. Then, your marker is good to use!


That is a quick tutorial on how to clean paint pens with several simple steps that I hope you can follow. Let me know how the outcomes are in the comment section. Feel free to share the article with your family and friends as well.

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