Caring for your fountain pen

Writing with a fountain pen will provide you with a pleasurable experience for years to come. A fountain pen will last you for many years, perhaps even generations if it's given the right amount of care. Caring for your pen is not a particularly difficult or laborious process and will save you a lot of money on expensive nib replacements, so feel free to peruse our tips below to ensure you get the best out of your writing instrument.

Preparing a fountain pen for its first use

If it is the first time the fountain pen is used you should prime the pen. Simply fit the ink cartridge into the pen and hold it upright, squeeze the cartridge hard until you see some ink come out of the tip.  If you are using a fountain pen converter, turn the screw part of the converter anti-clockwise and force some ink out from the tip.

If your pen still doesn’t write, try to cover the pen tip completely with some tissue, then shake the pen vigorously until you can see some ink is left on the tissue. Be careful not to hit anything when shaking the pen otherwise the nib might get damaged.

Cleaning and flushing your fountain pen

Inevitably, fountain pens will dry out if not in continuous use. We recommend cleaning out your fountain pen at least 4 times a year, perhaps more often if your pen will be out of use for longer periods. To flush it properly, do the following:

  1. Remove the ink cartridge from the pen and run the nib, filling mechanism and feeder under cool water.
  2. Shake out any excess water and dry the nib with a clean, lint-free cloth.
  3. At this point your pen will be ready for use again, that is if you don't mind your ink getting progressively darker as the ink displaces the water in the feed. If this is a concern, wash out the cap and leave it to completely dry overnight. Leave the rest of the pen (nib-down) in a glass with a sheet of paper at the bottom to catch any remaining water.
  4. Bonus tip: ensure you complete the process above every time you change ink colour or brand, or the residue from the previous ink will form with the new one to create a rather unpleasant viscous substance unsuitable for writing.


Additional Notes:

DO NOT use Indian ink in normal fountain pens. These inks have high solids content and will clog up the feed systems.


5 thoughts on “Caring for your fountain pen”

    Written by HUGH TOWNLEY on January 7, 2019

    Excellent, I bought a W W Smiths pen for £9.99, and found the flow was intermittent, leading to scratchy writing at times, so I have just flushed it through, and so far there seems to be a vast improvement.I think if it is a new pen this should be done before use, in case there is any residue from the manufacturing process.

    • Gemma Plumbridge
      Written by Gemma Plumbridge on January 17, 2019

      Glad you found this helpful. It's always advisable to give your fountain pen a quick clean before first use, as there can be residue from testing and manufacture.

  • Cindy
    Written by Cindy on October 20, 2018

    That's a thought - forcing ink through the first time. I've always just dipped my pen in the ink the first time writing with it until the ink naturally draws itself out.

  • Pablo
    Written by Pablo on January 21, 2017

    Excellent advice, if I may add that on occasion you may find that a brand new fountain pen seems jumpy, skips on paper or a little dry. If this is the case a flush out with water generally sorts it out, using the steps described above. I have had this issue with pens that have been 'factory' tested, they may have some ink residue left in the mechanism after leaving the factory.

  • Mrs Margaret Fallon
    Written by Mrs Margaret Fallon on September 18, 2014

    Thanks so much for your reply all is working fine!

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