Cleaning a Fountain Pen (Rotring®)

Thanks to a recent thread regarding affordable fountain pens, I ordered a Rotring® Core pen, but it came with no cleaning instructions. I have had bad luck with their Art-Pens in the past (at some point the cartridge just globs a bunch of ink onto the page) and I have tried warm water to no avail. I thought maybe it was just the cartridges, but another batch just did the same thing so it must be the nib of the pen itself. Now, the Core is brand new and as I said, with no instructions so I was hoping someone who also owns one might give me some tips.


Ah, this brings back memories of my poor art school days. The trick is warm water and ammonia. Hold the nib over the sink and rinse out most of the ink, then dump a bit of ammonia on it, then rinse again. Repeat as necessacary. Mine were rapid-o-graph pens (also by Rotring, I believe) and they made a bit of a “shicka-shicka” noise when you shook the nib up and down. That’s what controls the flow, so make sure while you’re rinsing it you jiggle it up and down so all sides of the flow control mechanism are getting cleaned. Does your pen have prepackaged cartriges or do you have a chamber that you refill? If you’re refilling the chamber from bottled ink make sure it’s formulated for that sort of pen. Too thick and you have a gloppy mess, and too thin and it will just dribble out on the paper.

Don’t use India ink in your fountain pen. I use Waterman and Scrip inks, and they are water-soluble. Simply run water over the nib to clean it. You may want to clean the inside by sucking up some water into the reservoir and flushing it a few times. When the water runs clean, you’re done cleaning the pen.

The trick is to not let your pens get clogged up in the first place. The ink is the most crucial aspect of keeping clog-free. Use quality inks and you will have fewer problems. On the other hand, if you’re using technical pens (i.e. rapidograph) instead of fountain pens, well, those ALWAYS clog up, that’s why they make the tips replaceable.

I know some pen manufacturers make their own cleaning solution to dissolve dried inks. I personally just run the nib under hot water, if that doesn’t do it, I soak it in water for a while and then more hot water.

Maybe things have changed over the years, but I used to use fountain pens for music copying in Hollywood. I found all brands of nibs could be taken apart carefully – the parts are held together only by compression if not threaded – and they could be cleaned with liquid soap and water; use a toothbrush and/or razor blade. Dry all parts thoroughly and re-assemble.

We music copyists found india ink too thick but standard fountain pen ink much too watery for our purposes. I used “technical ink” available at art stores and even diluted that at a ratio of 2 parts ink, 1 part water. Some people put a drop or two of glycerine in the bottle and claimed that helped the flow.

I always kept the pen tip covered when not in active use, and just before putting it to the paper, used a rag to quickly swipe the top of the pen where the ink “crack” was to start the flow. Rapidograph-style pens you have to shake, but not too much or they’ll splat all over!

Hope this helps.

Just visit a pen store & ask them, they are sure to have the stuff.

Well, Quasi? Did anything work?

Vixen: I tried your ammonia solution solution, but I installed a new cartridge too, so I am waiting until it gets to that point where it begins to glob. (See, it doesn’t do it ALL the time, just when it gets to a certain point in the cartridge, like 3/4 of the way used). I will report at that time, okay? One thing, it doesn’t make a shicka-shicka sound when shaken. Also , I wrote an e-mail to Schaeffer, the company that distributes ROTRING, and they said warm water, and if that didn’t work, then the pen was defective and I should return it for an exchange. I may just try that, even though they are in Germany.
Thanks for your help!


I have been successful using scrubbing bubbles with liquid soap and placing the nib in a small glass then placed into vibrating machine

Ater 10 years I’d guess it’s clean by now.