Best Fountain Pen Cleaning Solution (DIY And Pre-made)

Hey there, fountain pen fanatics! 

I know, I know, CLEANING might not be as exciting as buying a new pen or trying out a fancy ink, but trust me, it’s just as important.

Here’s  a quick rundown of the best fountain pen cleaning solutions: 

  • Warm water: your go-to, hassle-free fountain pen cleaner that works 90% of the time
  • Dish soap: the secret weapon for tackling stubborn ink build-up (but only use a tiny amount!)
  • Ammonia: Use only for really rough buildups (1 part ammonia to 10 parts water)
  • Specialized pre-made cleaning solutions: These sometimes come with your pen, but there are several great affordable options on Amazon!

So, grab your favorite pen (or pens, who am I to judge?), and let’s dive into the wild and wacky world of fountain pen cleaning solutions.

Simple Pen Cleaning Solutions

Warm Water

flushing pen with warm water

Let’s start with the simplest and most accessible cleaning solution: good ol’ warm water.

Yep, that’s right! In most cases, just flushing your fountain pen with warm water does the trick. It’s like a spa day for your pen, and it won’t cost you a dime. So, if you’re facing a minor ink issue or just giving your pen a routine clean, this H2O hero is your best bet.

I prefer to use two glass cups filled with warm water (one cup is a “discard” cup with the dirty ink, so the other cup stays clean water).

See more below on how to clean a fountain pen, step-by-step 😎

Dish Soap For Tougher Ink Build-ups

Now, sometimes our pens can be a bit… well, stubborn. If you’re dealing with a particularly pesky ink build-up, it’s time to bring in the big guns. And by big guns, I mean a tiny drop of dish soap.

Just a smidgen will do the trick, so don’t go all Jackson Pollock with the soap.

Simply add a tiny drop of dish soap (I use blue Dawn dish soap) to a small container of water and mix it up. Then, flush your fountain pen with this soapy solution, followed by a good rinse with plain water. Voilà! Your pen will return to its gleaming, ink-flowing GLORY in no time.

Related reading: How long does ink last in a fountain pen?

More Advanced Cleaning Solutions

First, Check Your Pen’s Documentation!

Before we dive into some specialized cleaning solutions, it’s essential to check your fountain pen’s documentation.

Different pens may have unique cleaning requirements or recommended solutions, and we wouldn’t want to risk damaging our beloved writing companions, now would we? Grab that manual and give it a quick read to ensure you’re treating your pen right.

(and your pen MAY have actually come with a specific solution, like my TWSBI Diamond).

Asdf insert pic of my cleaning solution

1 Part Ammonia, 10 Parts Water Solution

If you’re up for a little DIY, you can try a homemade cleaning solution made from 1 part ammonia and 10 parts water. This concoction can work wonders in dissolving stubborn ink residue. But remember, always double-check your pen’s documentation before using any new cleaning solution, as some materials may not react well with ammonia.

Pre-mixed Cleaning Solutions

Monteverde cleaner

MONTEVERDE USA® Flush 8 fl. oz. Bottle Fountain Pen Cleaner
  • REMOVE the old and stubborn build-up in fountain pens

For those who prefer a ready-to-use option, the MONTEVERDE USA® Flush Fountain Pen Cleaner is an excellent choice.

This 8 fl. oz. bottle costs around $17 and offers an effective, professional-grade cleaning solution for your pens. It’s a worthy investment that’ll keep your fountain pens looking and writing their best.

Speedball pen cleaner

Another pre-mixed cleaning solution worth considering is the Speedball Pen Cleaner. With a 16 oz bottle priced at about $22, it’s a bit pricier than the Monteverde option, but it gets the job done.

If you want to test the waters before committing to a larger bottle, you can find a 2 oz bottle of Speedball Pen Cleaner on Jetpens for a mere $5.

Personally, I still prefer using either warm water, or water with a bit of dish soap!

But yes. For super-heavy ink build-ups, you might grab a pre-made bottle solution.

Tools Need For Cleaning

fountain pen cleaning tools

Not shown – Q-tips! Those can be handy for gently scrubbing the inside of the ink resevoir.

You don’t always need fancy cleaning solutions for your fountain pen. In many cases, household items like warm water and dish soap can work wonders in keeping your pens clean and ready for action. Just remember to use them sparingly and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Here’s the simple list:

  • Container or cup for holding warm water or cleaning solution
  • Soft cloth or paper towels for drying parts
  • Dish soap (for tougher ink build-ups)
  • Bulb syringe for flushing the pen
  • Optional: specialized cleaning solutions (Monteverde, Speedball, etc.)
  • Optional: small brush or toothbrush for gently scrubbing pen parts

How To Clean Your Fountain Pen, Step By Step

1. Disassembling Your Fountain Pen

Disassemble your pen carefully, according to its instructions. For the toughest buildups, it’s best to take it all the way apart! This ensures that you can thoroughly clean each part and remove any hidden ink residue.

2. Preparing The Cleaning Solution

Fill a container (or two, if you want a “discard” container) with warm water or a cleaning solution if needed. Remember to use just a tiny drop of dish soap for tougher ink build-ups, or opt for a specialized cleaning solution if recommended by your pen’s documentation.

3. Flushing Your Fountain Pen

Gently flush your pen with the solution, according to the type of ink mechanism you have. If you’re using a converter or cartridge pen, simply remove the cartridge or converter and flush the nib and feed. For piston or vacuum-filler fountain pens, submerge the nib in the cleaning solution and operate the filling mechanism to draw in and expel the liquid until clean.

Continue flushing until the water runs CLEAN on a paper towel!

4. Drying The Pen Parts

After cleaning, use a soft cloth or paper towel to gently pat the parts dry. Be gentle to avoid damaging any delicate components, and make sure to remove all moisture before reassembling your pen.

5. Reassembling And Refilling Your Fountain Pen

Reassemble your pen according to its instructions, ensuring all parts are correctly and securely fitted. Once your pen is back together, refill it with your favorite ink, whether it’s through a cartridge, converter, piston, or vacuum-filling mechanism. Now, your pen is clean, primed, and ready for your next writing adventure!

How Often Should I Clean My Fountain Pen?

The ideal frequency for cleaning and flushing your fountain pen depends on several factors, such as how often you use it and the type of ink you’re using. As a general rule of thumb, it’s good to clean your pen every 4-6 weeks, or whenever you change ink colors. Of course, if you notice any issues with ink flow or performance, it’s time for a cleaning session!

Should I Ever Leave My Pen To Soak?

Sometimes, a simple cleaning won’t cut it, and you may need to soak your pen to remove stubborn ink residue. If this is the case, always check your pen’s documentation for specific instructions.

Generally, soaking your pen’s nib and feed in warm water for a few hours should help loosen any ink build-up. Once the soaking is complete, clean and dry your pen thoroughly before reassembling it.

Fountain Pen Cleaning F.a.q.s

How Do You Clean A Gummed Up Fountain Pen?

To clean a gummed up fountain pen, first disassemble the pen carefully. Soak the nib and feed in warm water for a few hours to help loosen the ink build-up. You may also add a tiny drop of dish soap to the water for more effective cleaning. After soaking, gently clean each part, rinse, dry, and reassemble your pen.

Can You Use Isopropyl Alcohol To Clean Fountain Pen?

Isopropyl alcohol is not recommended for cleaning fountain pens, as it can damage the pen’s materials and finish. Instead, stick to warm water, dish soap, or specialized cleaning solutions designed for fountain pens to ensure the safety and longevity of your writing instrument.

Is Vinegar Safe For Fountain Pens?

Opinions vary, but most fountain pen enthusiasts agree that using a light vinegar solution is ok for cleaning. Use ratios as low as 1 part vinegar to 10 parts water. However, some pen manufacturers specifically caution against using vinegar, as it might damage the pen’s materials. Stick to gentler cleaning methods like warm water, dish soap, or specialized cleaning solutions to keep your fountain pen in optimal condition.

Does Hydrogen Peroxide Clean Fountains?

Hydrogen peroxide is not recommended for cleaning fountain pens, as it may damage the pen’s materials and finish. Instead, opt for warm water, dish soap, or fountain pen-specific cleaning solutions to ensure the safety and longevity of your writing instrument.

Can You Use Acetone To Clean A Fountain Pen?

Acetone is not recommended for cleaning fountain pens, as it can damage the pen’s materials, especially plastic parts. To avoid damage, use warm water, dish soap, or specialized cleaning solutions designed for fountain pens.

How Do You Remove Dried Ink From A Nib?

To remove dried ink from a nib, first, disassemble the pen and soak the nib and feed in warm water for a few hours to help loosen the ink residue. You may also use a small brush or toothbrush to gently scrub the nib if necessary. After cleaning, rinse, dry, and reassemble your pen.

Want to avoid cleaning every week? Check out our guide on how to store a fountain pen.