February 24, 2014

How do I clean my fountain pen?

"I found this post from Andreas Koeniger very interesting; USk is a community where we share knowledge and help each other, and this post with his  nice drawings shows that spirit. I asked him if he could translate it to English. He was was very kind to do it. This post appeared first on USk Germany on February 13th 2014. You can also read the post in original German here." (Omar)

Andreas Koeniger is a correspondent for the USk Germany blog. He lives and works as a graphic designer in Darmstadt (a city not far from Frankfurt). He likes to draw with fountain pen.

How do I clean my fountain pen? 

I draw a lot with fountain pens and waterproof ink. The problem with waterproof ink and fountain pens is that the ink dries in the fountain pen and the ink flow decreases.

Many people have the same problem and hence I decided to write about "How do I clean my fountain pen". I don't know if this is the best way, but this method of cleaning fountain pens is the best way for me.

Usually it is enough to clean your pen once a week, depending on how often you used the fountain pen.  To clean the fountain pen, first remove the converter or ink cartridge (I always use converter) Rinse it with warm water.

When most of the ink is removed, I blow with my mouth from the back of the fountain pen (from where the cartridge or the converter is placed). Repeat this a few times. Fill it with water and then blow through.

Once the pen is cleaned, I dry it with a kitchen towel and shake it 2-3 times vigorously in the wash-bowl, so that the last remaining water is removed as much as possible. Then I refill my converter with waterproof ink, I use " Noodler 's Ink , Black , Bulletproof ". At this point, I use a standard syringe with a blunt needle (you get both in the pharmacy). So I squirt the ink directly into the converter. This has the advantage that I have no air in the converter. I have a feeling that air bubbles in the converter / filler brings the ink faster to drying and the ink flow stops earlier. I also have the converter filled as maximum.

Now I put back the converter on the pen and turn it until some ink comes out from the tip of the pen. In that way I push even the last remaining water from the ink feed system. After I had draw a couple of lines on paper, to test whether there really is only ink, I fill the converter again.

Now your pen should work properly again. Only when I realize that the ink flow isn't available in full, I take the pen apart depending on the use, about every two months . You must find out for yourself, how do you disassemble your fountain pen. In the majority of cases you can pull carefully out the Ink-Feed-System and the nib with a small pliers to the front. I always wrap a thin cloth around the nib and the Ink-Feed-System, to prevent scratching of both.

There are some cleaning agents for fountain pens, however I've never used them, because that was never necessary.

Good luck !

PS: If you have other ways to clean your pen, tell us in a comment. (Omar)


Peng Hui LEE said...

I just got a goulet bulb flush. http://www.gouletpens.com/Shop_All_Pen_Cleaning_Supplies_s/1202.htm

Andreas Koeniger said...

Thank you Omar!

Mike Dodds said...

As I also paint using acrylics for models I've discovered that Dettol also has properties to break down both paint and ink. (Simple Green in the USA ) I'm not sure if Dettol is available in Germany, but it's the same astringent cleanser used in hospitals.

Pedro said...

Thanks !

Zoe, ontheroad said...

I sometimes use a ear bulb to really flush the ink out, and occasionally add a wee bit of clear kitchen ammonia to the water, as it seems to get the really badly dried ink out faster.

Murray Dewhurst said...

Interesting about the syringe, I'll try that - my barrel always jams. Love the sketches by the way.

akjBawa said...

thank you, was helpful

Barbara Grünenfelder said...

Thanks for all the ideas and experiences! My simple way with the fountain pen: I use just one fountain pen for everything (also handwriting all my notes severeral times a day. So the waterproof ink keeps flowing. I clean the pen about once a moth with warm water.

drewscape said...

For the Hero 86, you can pull the nib and feed straight out. Then you can wash them individually. Be careful with the little straw stick at the end of the feed though. It can be pulled out too. But don't bend it or it will break.

Нина Долгополова said...

Thanks! Could you tell more about the tools that you use to draw? I live in Russia, trying to learn to draw. I really like your sketches. And I try different materials and tools. I was interested in your tools. I'd appreciate if you can share.

Nathan Hungate said...

One of the best ways I've found to clean a fountain pen is to use a bulb syringe. You'll want a larger size so that the end plugs the barrel well. Then just flush with water (distilled is ideal) until it runs clear. All you need is a firm squeeze, anything harder risks damaging the feed.

Afterwards, drain the water pooled up inside the barrel and hold the nib to a paper towel to absorb any residual water in the feed.

If you need to clean the cartridge converter, fill a blunt-tipped syringe with water and flush thoroughly. When it seems clear, fill the converter about 1/3 with water, place your fingertip over the end, and shake vigorously to get ink trapped in small nooks.

vvyy said...

There is a more efficient way to shake. You just have to cover the tip with a few layers of tissue. Thus you can shake it with whatever amplitude and acceleration you consider suitable.