Are Fountain Pens Messy? (A Guide for Cleanliness)

Are fountain pens messy?

It’s a totally valid question, especially for fountain pen beginners!

And the good news?

Fountain pens aren’t that much messier than any other type of pen, especially once you’ve chosen the right pen and figured out how to properly use, re-fill, and clean it!

all the time, but no big deal 🙂

And troubleshoot any issues, too.

After my own mess of ink spills, inky fingers, etc…

Allow me to dive into some tips and tricks to help your workspace stay clean & functional 🙂

Are Fountain Pens Messy?

Fountain pens can be messy if not used correctly. The main cause of messiness is the ink itself, which is usually water-based and therefore prone to smudging or smearing when it comes into contact with moisture or heat.

That, and you need to manually fill, re-fill, and clean your fountain pen.

(Even cartridge-based fountain pens can be messy if you don’t know what you’re doing).

Finally, fountain pen nibs can become clogged with dried ink over time, leading to inconsistent lines and splotches on the page.

These will require extra cleaning in order to fix.

Also note: some inks are naturally more “wet” than others, and even MORE prone to smearing, etc.

How to avoid messiness with your fountain pen:

1 – Use high-quality inks only

To avoid messiness when using a fountain pen, it’s important to use high-quality inks that won’t smear easily and keep your nib clean by regularly flushing out any old ink residue.

2 – Don’t write too fast (at first)

Yes, it is totally possible to write fast using a fountain pen, but you’ll need to get used to it first!

If you’re used to a ballpoint pen, etc, you’ll want to slow down.

Write too quickly, and your handwriting will probably be messier.

3 – Don’t bear down too hard

Fountain pens do NOT require as much pressure to release ink (as normal pens).

In order to properly let the ink flow out, make sure to hold your pen properly and apply light, consistent pressure.

4 – If you’re left-handed, use a left-hand nib!

For the lefties out there, you’ll definitely want to custom-fit your fountain pen & nib experience–else you’re going to be smearing ink all over the page.

Left-hand nibs are sold either with the pens or sold separately, will help your writing be less messier.

5 – Take care in re-filling and cleaning

It should go without saying, but the process of taking your fountain pen APART (to re-fill or clean) is naturally a messy process, and you should expect to get your fingers at least A LITTLE BIT inky.

Don’t fret!

Ink removes easily from your hands.

Other household items–NOT SO MUCH.

Keep several paper towels nearby, and always refill/clean your pen over a sink, etc!

Troubleshooting Common Issues with Fountain Pens

Fountain pens can sometimes leak ink due to other issues–resulting in blotches on paper and other surfaces.

This is usually caused by an incorrect (or damaged) seal between the pen’s nib and feeder, or a faulty cartridge.

To prevent this from happening, make sure that your fountain pen is properly sealed before use. Additionally, check for any cracks or damage to the nib and replace it if necessary.

Skipping or Clogging Issues: Skipping occurs when the ink does not flow smoothly from the nib onto the paper. This can be caused by a clogged feeder due to dried-up ink residue in the chamber of your fountain pen.

To fix this issue, try cleaning out your fountain pen with warm water and then flushing it with fresh ink several times until you get smooth writing again.

If this doesn’t work, try replacing your current cartridge with a new one as old cartridges may contain dry particles that are causing clogs in your feeder tube.

To avoid smudging issues, make sure to clean off excess oil from your hands and keep them away from fabrics that could easily absorb ink!

Fountain Pen Cleanliness F.A.Q.s

Are fountain pens good for daily use?

Absolutely! With just a little bit of practice and knowledge, you can use fountain pens for just about anything you do throughout the day. Just be sure to learn proper fountain pen technique (and cleaning, maintenance, etc) so you can write normally without messes.

Are fountain pens high maintenance?

Fountain pens do require a bit more effort to fill, clean, and maintain than normal pens, but it’s not actually all that much work (especially once you get the hang of it). On a day-to-day basis, fountain pens are NOT any more “high-maintenance” than normal pens. You will need to periodically refill and clean your fountain pen, which requires just a few minutes of work.