Can You Use Ultrasonic Cleaner for Restoring Fountain Pens?

Long gone are the days of using a pen and paper to record your thoughts.

In today’s fast-paced society with smartphones, tablets, and laptops, the art of penmanship is quickly becoming a rare commodity.

Yes, there are still people who use pen and paper for various things; even writers today use pen and paper before committing their words to an electronic document.

cleaning fountain pen
Fountain pen

Did you know not all pens are created equal?

There are numerous different styles of pens, from the Quill pens used in the 18th and 19th centuries to ballpoint and ink brush pens.

Today we are going to focus on how to properly care for your luxury fountain pen so it will last you for decades to come.

What exactly is a fountain pen?

A fountain pen is similar to its predecessors in that it uses gravity and capillary action to deposit ink onto paper.

As such, there are several different styles of fountain pens, from eyedropper pens to piston pens and everything in between. Some are easy to clean, and some are not so easy.

As a side note, there are also several different sizes of nibs ranging from extra-fine, fine, medium, and broad, as well as various shapes.

The main difference with a fountain pen is that it utilizes a nib and ink cartridge or other internal reservoirs to provide a continuous flow of ink.

The ink used in fountain pens is usually water-based, whereas ink from a ballpoint pen is oil-based.

Why Should You Clean Them?

Ballpoint pens are cheap, mass-produced, and easily disposed of.

When switching to a fountain pen, you will realize that it requires some maintenance to ensure its long-term use.

Depending upon how much writing you do, you will want to ensure that you properly clean your fountain pen from time to time.

Since the ink in fountain pens is water-based, the water can evaporate, leaving the ink to dry within the ink cartridge and nib.

This is the main reason why you’ll want to clean your fountain pen.

Another reason why you need frequent fountain pen cleaning is that over time, your pen will come into contact with dust and other miniature debris, which can build up in the nib and feed, causing the pen to write poorly.

dirty fountain pen nib

How to Clean a Dirty Fountain Pen?

Before we set out to clean our fountain pens, you will need some basic supplies.

Most of these supplies can be found in basic household products; however, some companies sell specific cleaning products and kits for your fountain pen.

The most common type of fountain pen is the cartridge converter pen.

To clean a cartridge/converter fountain pen, the cleaning supplies you’ll need are:

  • Toothpicks
  • 2 or 3 small cups
  • Bulb syringe for cleaning your nib
  • 100% pure silicone grease for cleaning sticky pistons or converters.
  • Paper towels are an excellent option for wiping off nibs and letting your pen dry.
  • Water, preferably distilled water, to avoid any hard water deposits and other contaminants. Do not use warm or hot water as this can cause internal damage.
  • Pen flush. When using a pen, flush draw it into the pen or converter, let it soak for a few moments, then rinse several times with water to ensure all the cleaning solution is removed.

Steps for how to clean your fountain pen and its nib include:

  1. Remove the cap so you can access the grip section, unscrew the grip section from the barrel, and remove the converter or cartridge.
  2. Fill one cup with clean, clear water, and leave the second one empty. Using your bulb syringe, flush clean water through the grip section into the empty cup. Repeat this process until the water coming out is clear.
  3. Similar to how you would draw up ink, draw clean water into the converter. Expel the water into the dirty water cup until the converter is completely free of ink.
  4. Thoroughly dry each component before reassembling.
  5. Reattach the converter to the grip section, reattach the barrel to the grip section, and you’re ready to write.

Why Use a Sonic Cleaner for Fountain Pens?

When it’s about your luxury fountain pens like Waterman, Esterbrook, Parker, and Montblanc, you do not want your investment to go wasted, as they do not come cheap.

However, the problem is cleaning a fountain pen with dried ink can be very hard and much time-consuming.

When dried ink and gunk are clogged in the ink channel or between the nib and the feed, it may take a very long time to get them cleaned with a fountain pen cleaning kit.

This type of clogging generally happens when you leave your fountain pens with ink loaded unused for long.

For restoring these kinds of filthy fountain pens, you can use a high-tech ultrasonic pen cleaner device that can ease your task and can save a great deal of time.

How to Use Ultrasonic Cleaner for Fountain Pens?

Fountain pens are relatively simple to clean and maintain when washed in an ultrasonic cleaner device.

For using a sonic cleaner for your fountain pen cleaning, you need to choose a good device that is easy to operate, efficient, and durable.

You also need to check how this device works before you use it for the very first time.

An ultrasonic pen cleaner machine generally works by using high-frequency ultrasonic waves for cleaning various items (fountain pen parts and nibs) when placed in the bath tank filled with an ultrasonic solvent or solution.

When switched on, the powerful transducer in the machine creates millions of microscopic bubbles inside the solution (detergent or ammonia-based).

These bubbles, when collides aggressively with the dirty fountain pen nibs and other parts, develop a cavitation action for cleansing these items that are hard to reach with the manual cleaning process.

Cleaning fountain pens and nibs by using an ultrasonic cleaner device thus ensures that the item is cleaned thoroughly, leaving no dried ink or dirt inside – even in the tiniest spaces within.

Safety Tips When Using Ultrasonic Pen Cleaner For Nibs

Fountain pen cleaner devices like ultrasonic pen cleaners can make your task easier.

However, these can prove to be risky (and can damage/destroy your pen’s nib) if not used correctly.

Here are a few precautionary steps you may need to take for risk-free cleaning of your fountain pen parts in the USC device:

✓ Gold plated nibs can be risky to clean

If you are cleaning them in a tabletop ultrasonic cleaning device, these can damage due to the fact that the vibrations inside are strong enough to remove these gold plating (or any other painted pen parts), leaving your nibs bare stainless steel.

✓ As your pen may contain parts that may get damaged due to heat, you should avoid using this feature.

Few of these automatic pen cleaner machines come with a built-in heater that heats the water/solution prior to cleaning.

So, it’s best to get a machine that does not come with a heater, or if present, switching it on and off should be optional.

✓ While cleaning your luxury pens in USC, also care that you do not put all the parts and cap completely in the device

These may include iron parts that may get rusty when getting in contact with a water-based ultrasonic cleaning solution.

✓ Make sure that the nib of your pen does not touch the bottom or sides of the ultrasonic cleaner tank

Most of these machines come with a stainless steel tank, and the fast vibrations inside can abrade the tipping leaving your pen’s nib damaged.

For avoiding this issue, you can use a provided plastic basket (in a few cleaners) to place your fountain pen inside.

Or, if not, you can make use of a pair of wooden chopsticks to hold the pen so that it does not touch the tank bottom or sides.

How to Store Your Luxury Fountain Pens When Not In Use?

There are several schools of thought when it comes to properly store your fountain pen.

There are also short-term storage and long-term storage techniques to consider.

We’re going to focus on the most effective ways to store your fountain pen, both short and long-term.

You can store your pens in various storage compartments, from elaborate boxes, leather pen cases, and even pen rolls. The choice is up to you.

Short-term storage – 24 hours or less

For short-term storage, you do not have to empty the ink out of the pen or clean it.

Usually, when you are storing a fountain pen for a short period, it will probably be on a laptop or in your pocket.

When this is the case, it’s best to have the nib up, which will keep the ink from leaking down into the cap.

When storing your pen around the house or office, you can place the nib horizontally, which will help keep the nib wet enough to begin writing again after a few hours.

Long-term storage – more than 24 hours

For long-term storage, the most important thing you want to remember is that you must empty the ink entirely and thoroughly clean your fountain pen before putting it away.

Depending upon your lifestyle, you can choose to store your pen in either a leather case or pen pouch, but it’s a matter of preference.

In the end, fountain pens offer a much easier and smoother writing experience with the added benefit of reducing hand cramps.

With that said, when you take the time to care for your luxury fountain pen properly, you can expect to use it for decades to come.