Pen cleaning

Every once in awhile I realize that I have every fountain pen in the house inked up and haven’t used most of them in months. This inevitably leads to maniacally cleaning every pen. All the cartridges come out and every pen is disassembled to its smallest possible pieces and dropped into water. I even syringe out a lot of the cartridges so that I can reuse them.

This photo is only part of the pens that got cleaned. Some of the nib units are still soaking since they were left filled until the ink dried. All my Kaweco pens were cleaned first and refilled so they are not pictured above. The Kawecos are probably better maintained than any of my other pens. My growing collection of Lamy and Monteverde pens were also pretty well maintained. The most neglected were the budget fountain pens bought early in my fountain pen collecting that got cleaned last.

In the process of cleaning, I realized that the Lamy Logo and Lamy Accent do not accept the Lamy Converter. It a good thing I cleaned out the stock Lamy cartridges that came with the pens so that I can fill them with bottled inks. Lamy ink colors are pretty limited.

How many pens do you keep inked at any one time? Are you fastidious about cleaning them or do you leave them until it gets this bad? Are there certain pens that get more “love” than others?

17 Comments on Pen Cleaning

  1. Thanks for this reminder. I now keep only 3 pens inked, simply because the more I have inked the more likely I will avoid and delay the task of cleaning, and the larger the production with cleaning, which can sometimes be hard on the pens. But we all have our own best practice, according to our tastes and needs. I actually enjoy cleaning one or two pens, but not so much 8, 10, or more. 🙂

  2. I had > 20 inked up and carried most around with me every day. I didn’t really have any problems with “pen hygiene” such as clogging, though I sometimes had trouble remembering which ink was in which pen if they were similar colors.
    Nevertheless, I recently decided to pare down to 5 or 6 inked at a time, and so am gradually using up the inks and then cleaning out the pens and setting aside. I’m down to 13 inked currently.

  3. The most I usually have inked is around 7. one for each day of the week and because I like variety. I try not to go much more than that because eventually pens get neglected on use…especially since i LOVE my Lamy pens and Pilot pens the most.

  4. I’m terrible for cleaning my pens – and I certainly keep too many inked at once. My only real ‘solution’ has been to be pretty good about storing them nib up. Since I don’t run a dehumidifier or AC, I’ve found that (for most of them, anyway) this is enough to get away with it.
    There’s a ‘Z26’ converter by Lamy, it’s black rather than red, but it doesn’t have the ‘ears’ that lock the converter into place on the Safari/Nexx/Al-Star, it fits the Logo, and as far as I’m aware, any Lamy pen bar the 2000 (for obvious reasons!). Cartridge reuse is definitely a more budget friendly option, but there’s the Z26 if you ever want to look into that!

  5. Oh, I am SO bad at cleaning my fountain pens. Much like you, I’ll realize one day that I have dozens of pens inked, so I’ll go on a cleaning spree. 😀 Last time I went on a cleaning spree, I had decided to pass some of my less-loved pens to a friend, and I thought it would be rude to give her a pen that hadn’t been cleaned in years. I bought the Goulet cleaning kit with their specially made pen wash and a bulb syringe. Best investment ever. I’ve always had trouble getting the last bit of color out of my pens, for whatever reason. The water will come out just faintly pink instead of crimson, just a hint of smoke instead of black. But the syringe is perfect for pushing it through the nib.

    Right now I have I have five fountain pens in my daily rotation, including the Lamy Safari I just got last week for my birthday, but I bet I still have six or seven inked. I should probably clean them out before NaNoWriMo or I’ll spend November 1 frantically cleaning what I just KNOW will be my lucky writing pen. (Procrastination technique? I have no idea what you’re talking about… )

    To be honest, ever since I started reading fountain pen blogs, I’ve been living with a vague sense of guilt that I clean my pens so rarely. Thank you for this post! You’ve helped me alleviate some of that. 😀

  6. I’m a newbie to the FP hobby, so I have really few pens. Only 3 FPs. I keep 2 of them – my dear Lamy Safari and my Pilot Metropolitan – constantly inked up because I use them nearly every day. My third – Platinum Preppy – isn’t really to my liking (scratchy nib), so I’m probably just going to use the ink up and then toss it or give it to a friend. With the 2 FPs that I do use regularly though, I clean the pen every time I refill it, so I guess I’m pretty meticulous with cleaning…

  7. Is that dark green one a pilot 78g? How do you like it? I have been wanting to try that pen, because I have heard good things about it (and it is inexpensive), but I just can’t seem to get around to buying it. I know it will be just another pen to compete with my favorite daily carries.

    I carry 6-7 pens daily. I usually try to clean out a pen when it goes empty, but how long a pen takes to empty is another question. It is usually a matter of how much I like the ink. I am using ink samples, so I’m always anxious to get a new color into the cleaned out pen.

    Yes, there are certainly pens that get more love than the others. Lamy AL Star, Pilot Prera (green-like yours), Pilot Metro in purple leopard and Cross Solo.

    • To be honest, I haven’t used the Pilot 78g in about a year. I’m hoping to clean it out and give it a whirl after using much more expensive pens and see how I feel about it now. In the meantime, you can see my original review from two years ago!

  8. I’ve been meaning to clean my pens out since I haven’t done it in a while, and I told myself I would do it in between refills. I’m a FP newbie so luckily I only have two pens to clean out! I’ve been itching to try a new ink sample though so I must get to cleaning soon!

  9. I have almost all of my pens inked (32 of them) and carry 12 with me all the time. I clean them whenever I run out of ink in one or when it’s giving me issues. I’m trying to take some out of rotation but it’s just too tempting to try another ink color in them right away. Someday I hope to get down to the #6penchallenge… for which I will reward myself with a lovely 6-pen case!

  10. I’ve got 4 inked up at any one time. 3 standard ones (black, yellow and red) for work which are the less expensive ones. The forth is the ‘fancy’ pen that I change weekly so I don’t get too bored. The ink changes weekly too to keep me amused!

  11. I confess I don’t use fountain pens. But I run into the same problem with my rubber stamps. They might go years before I finally give in and clean ’em all in a tornado of decontamination. It wouldn’t surprise me to discover that there are stamps lurking in the back of a drawer tha I haven’t cleaned since the last century….Of all the carpenters and amateur woodworkers I’ve known, only one cleaned his tools after every use. At least I get mine sharpened…annually…

    • When I use rubber stamps, I put a folded, wet paper towel on a ceramic dish so that I can do a little stamp cleaning as I use them. Stamp, then tamp on paper towel a couple times, put back in the drawer.

  12. Be careful with black “rubbery” lacquer on Lamy Studio etc., I happened to totally waste it leaving the barrel in water overnight and had to buy a spare.

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