Fountain Pen Cleaning & Maintenance - Some General Advice
We often get asked about what sort of maintenance a fountain pen requires. It can sometimes seem a bit daunting, having to “maintain” a fountain pen, but the good news is that there's really not much to it. You can take this from someone who has left a lot of fountain pens languishing in the back of drawers.
The golden rule of keeping your fountain pens flowing well is to use them all the time.
The people that never (actually never) clean their pens are generally people that use their pen everyday, and they usually refill from the same bottle when they're running empty. Sometimes they dip from different bottles, which is a bit dicey, but not the end of the world.
The more you use your fountain pens, the more ink will constantly flow through the feed, acting as its own sort of flush, and the less chance there will be for the ink to dry up or to get clogged in your feed.
Use fountain pen ink, not India Ink or calligraphy ink.
However, a good cleaning every once in a while is not a bad idea.
Here's when you should clean your pen:
1. When you're no longer going to use it (for more than, say, a month).
2. When you are changing ink colours from a bottle of ink.
3. When you notice there's a change in flow, which could be because you have dried up ink clogging the feed.
If you need a quick refresher on how to clean your pen you can check out this blog post, but the basic idea is to flush your pen through with water. You can draw up water with the converter, you can draw up water with the piston, you can leave the nib to soak in some water. It's also not a bad idea to try and flush water from both directions, both pushing from the back of the pen out the nib, and drawing water into the pen - this helps dislodge any tiny bits of ink from crevices of the feed from both sides.
Here is my best cleaning tip: flush your pen out the best you can, and then fill it with water. Cap it, and leave it overnight. In the morning, you may find that some of the remaining residual ink from the feed, converter or piston has dissolved. Flush it out one more time.
When re-filling from the same bottle of ink, I sometimes do a light flush or two with water, and then refill. Sometimes I don't and just refill. When re-filling from a different bottle of ink, I often do a more thorough flush, but I admit that I occasionally leave a small trace of an old ink behind. When putting a new cartridge in of either the same or a different colour, I don't find it necessary to flush at all, but it doesn't hurt. If you don't, you'll get some pretty cool gradient colour changing.
The focus is not so much that your pens need to be hyper sterilized, although of course who am I to say no if someone is going to offer to do that for me. Pens were made to have ink in them. In fact, you may even notice some residual ink already in your brand new pens, such as your Lamy pens, that's left there from factory testing.
The more you write with your pens, the better they will write.