fountain pen cleaning question

Hi all,

I have a kind of stupid beginner's question on fountain pens. I have a waterman hemisphere, kind of new, and I wanted to clean it just now to change colours. So I took out the old empty cartridge, held the nib section under the tap with very little water flowing from it, not a heavy stream (I don't know how to better express this in English, sorry) till the water that came out of it was clear and not blue anymore.
So then I took some paper towel, dried it of and held some against the up side of the nib. There appeared a small blue and wet area on the paper towel a few times, before it stopped. Does that mean that I should have flushed it a bit longer?
And afterwards I put in a new cartridge, but it doesn't write very well. It writes watery, even after some scribbling with it. Will this go away after more writing, or is there a better way to dry it?
With my plastic safari I am a bit less careful, but this pen was a graduation gift from my mother-in-law for my ma and msc, so I really want to keep it in good condition.

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You want an ear syringe

FPs that take a cartridge or converter can be well-cleaned with what's called an "ear syringe" which you can find at your local drugstore. You want the "adult" kind which is all rubber and has a narrow end, not the kiddie version which has a protective plastic thingie on the end to keep you from jamming it up junior's nose.

Remove feed from pen like you were going to snap in a new cartridge. Fill ear syringe with clear, cool water. Place end over place where cartridge fits, and squeeze water into pen (over a sink!) Marvel at how much extra ink comes out. Repeat until water runs clear.

I use my syringe to then blow air through the feed into a paper towel, to pull out all the extra water. Feeds are meant to hold a lot of liquid, so it's not unusual to see some water, but that bothers me, so I like to dry it out with the bulb, THEN put in a cartridge. It takes a little waiting for the ink to settle into the feed: you can squeeze the cartridge *gently* while holding the pen uncapped, nib-down, over your sink. Gravity is your friend here.

Impatient types have been known to actually snap or swing the nib end of the pen, to shake ink down into the feed. I do not, for fear of striping my walls and pets in blue splatters, or in accidentally seeing if my pen works as a dart.

Cartridges are tough

First, it is very, very tough to ruin a pen with poor cleaning (unless it's a bladder pen, in which case you could need professional help. Yours is not a bladder pen, so don't worry). You could leave your pen unloved and uncapped in a drawer for a decade and still revive it at home without special tools. It is much more difficult to clean a pen without a converter. If the pen came with a converter, I'd recommend flushing out the nib with some room temp water. That will do a much more thorough job than just letting gravity push through. Lacking a converter, you might leave it to soak in a glass of water overnight.

Unless you let it dry completely, it'll write watery for a while. Not long, but long enough that you'll get sick of it. You can just put the pen away for a day or so and it should take care of itself. But the fact is that you've got water in the nib and you won't get it out by yourself. It's mixing with the ink (which is only moving at it's own slow capillary pace, after all) and making itself a nuisance. Not a problem, but a nuisance.

Serious fountain pen

Serious fountain pen officianados just can't wait.
We return to a long ago forgotten skill: the mercury thermometer shakedown.

Gently fold a paper towel over the business end of your nib, step away from anything likely to crack your knuckles, and flick the the package smartly from your elbow. Just like a nurse of old shaking down the mercury in a thermometer.

This will give you a good idea of whether any old ink is still in residence or not, as it will color the water coming out.

You will be amazed at how much water a nib can hold.

Do this several times and your pen will be next to dry inside and ready to write without any watery frustration.

When I clean a pen...

When I clean a pen, I always let it sit overnight nib-down in a cup with a paper towel folded in the bottom, to soak up the water left in the pen.

Using an ear syringe, the bulb from an eyedropper, or a converter, you can flush a pen pretty thoroughly. Even so, as others have mentioned, the feed is designed to hold liquid, so letting it dry into a paper towel will help make sure your next ink doesn't get diluted. Even so, the watery ink is only a temporary problem.

Your pen sounds healthy to me.

Do you procrastinate?

I also let it sit, nib down,

I also let it sit, nib down, with a paper towel in the bottom of a cup for drying.

I am a notebook junkie.

Too much waiting

I'm too impatient for that, hence the "shoot air through the feed with the syringe" technique. I do let the excess water siphon out into a paper towel afterwards, but I'm usually cleaning the pen out because I want to ink it again.


I follow the steps you listed. However once the water flows clear I give my pen a little shake and then add the new color. I then write lines with my pen ( bad penmanship I truly need the practice until the new color shows strongly.

Anacora Imparo