Remove and Store Fountain Pen Ink Cartridges

How to Remove and Store Fountain Pen Ink Cartridges

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Fountain pen ink cartridges are a convenient way to fill a fountain pen with less mess than other filling systems. However, there may be times when you want to remove an ink cartridge before the ink has run out, which can create a mess if done incorrectly. But there’s a proper way to remove and store fountain pen ink cartridges to ensure you and your pen remain mess-free, and your remaining ink can be used later. 

So whether you’re removing your cartridge to clean it, troubleshooting an issue, or changing ink in a fountain pen, keep reading to see how to do it properly.

How to Remove Fountain Pen Ink Cartridges 

Luckily, removing the ink cartridge from a fountain pen is very simple. All you need to do is pull the cartridge straight out the opposite way you put it in. But be sure to point the tip of the pen upward, or, obviously, ink could spill out from both the nib and the removed cartridge. 

If you’re saving the cartridge, place it in a glass or dish to avoid it spilling or getting knocked over. As long as you’re gentle and don’t hit or shake the cartridge, it shouldn’t leak, even if placed on its side that’s to the surface tension of the ink at the small opening.

If your cartridge has a wide opening, like those from Pilot, make sure you keep the opening elevated by placing it in a Q-tip or other similar object.

While spills or leaks are rare, you may want to place newspaper or another protective cover over your table and have paper towels handy. If you do get ink on your table or hands, you can check out my guide to help remove the stains. 

How to Store Fountain Pen Ink Cartridges 

There are two main ways to safely store an open ink cartridge: with tape or with a glue gun. If you have access to a glue gun or are planning to store your cartridges for an extended period, I suggest the glue gun option for its added security. I’ll go into the steps of each technique to help you with either method you choose. 

Remove and Store Fountain Pen Ink Cartridges

Tape Method

Using tape is a quick way to store your cartridges. This is best for short-term solutions of up to 3 weeks. After that, the ink is likely to dry out. 

What you’ll need: 

Storing an Open Fountain Pen Cartridge


Step 1: Take a piece of tape and completely seal the opening. Crimp down the edges of the tape around the cartridge to help completely seal the opening and keep the tape from sticking to other things and being pulled off. 

Storing an Open Fountain Pen Cartridge

Step 2: Place the sealed cartridge in a zip-lock bag or other airtight container. Squeeze out as much as possible to help keep the cartridge sealed longer. 

How to Store an Open Fountain Pen Cartridge

Step 3: When ready to use, simply remove the cartridge from the bag and peel off the tape, ensuring you always keep the opening upright.

How to Store an Open Fountain Pen Cartridge

If your ink has dried out, you may be able to rehydrate it. Scroll down to see the steps for doing so. 

Storing an Open Fountain Pen Cartridge

Hot Glue Method

While the hot glue method takes a little more work and obviously more materials, it will allow you to store your cartridges indefinitely without worrying about them leaking or drying out. 

What you’ll need:

Storing an Open Fountain Pen Cartridge

If you don’t already have a glue gun, don’t be put off by the idea of purchasing one. I bought a very inexpensive low-temp gun for about $3 and many glue sticks that will probably last years of my kids’ school projects for less than $5. So while it’s not essential, it’s an inexpensive tool that could have other uses beyond fountain pens. 


Step 1: Prep your glue gun for use following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Storing an Open Fountain Pen Cartridge

Step 2: Using the gun, apply a circle of glue around the opening of the cartridge. Then slowly fill in the area over the cartridge’s opening until you have a complete seal. Be careful not to get glue inside the cartridge, as it may be impossible to get out. 

This will be easy for cartridges with smaller openings as the glue will bead up on the outside, while larger openings may need a more steady hand and concentration. 

I recommend using enough glue to make a decent-sized lip to hang over the outside of the opening to make it easier to peel off when you want to use it again. 

Storing an Open Fountain Pen Cartridge

Step 3: Hold the cartridge upright until the glue has completely hardened. 

Storing an Open Fountain Pen Cartridge

Step 4: Place the cartridge into an airtight bag or container for added security. 

Storing an Open Fountain Pen Cartridge

Additional Tips:

To help keep you organized, it’s best to label any cartridges you will store. I recommend putting the brand, ink color, and ink type where applicable. Because many ink colors look similar in the cartridge and mixing up cartridge types/brands is easy, even fountain pen pros label their cartridges.

You can label the bag you’re keeping it in or use a bit of tape or a sticky note that won’t easily come off. 

How to Refill a Fountain Pen Cartridge

How to Rehydrate a Dried-Out Ink Cartridge

Despite carefully sealing your cartridges, you may still end up with dried-out ink. It may be possible to rehydrate ink if the water has just evaporated. Here are the steps to get started. 

What You’ll Need: 

  • Syringe
  • Distilled Water
  • **Filtered water can also be used, but distilled water is best to avoid altering or contaminating the ink.


Step 1: Fill the syringe with 1-2 ml of distilled water.

How To Refill An Ink Cartridge

Step 2: Slowly add water to the cartridge until it’s about as full as when you stored in. If you don’t remember, try going about halfway full.

How to Refill a Fountain Pen Cartridge

Step 3: Using the needle, swirl the ink and water together until it’s fully dissolved. Try to get all clumps of undissolved ink. If you can’t, don’t use the cartridge in your pen, as the ink clumps may clog your pen.

How to Refill a Fountain Pen Cartridge
what to do if your fountain pen won't write
Pen shown: Kaweco Sport

When To Clean a Fountain Pen

One other thing I wanted to touch on is cleaning your pen. If you’re new to fountain pens, you might be surprised to learn that they need more maintenance than a typical ballpoint or gel pen, especially if you want to keep the pen running properly for a long time. There are three main times you will want to clean your pen: when changing inks, before storing it, and if your pen isn’t writing properly.

When Changing Inks

Changing out ink cartridges is a great way to add variety to your writing and test new options. However, if you’re changing ink colors, types, or brands, it’s especially important to clean your pen to avoid any issues with the pen. Inks may interact negatively with each other, causing clogs or even ruining the pen’s internal mechanisms. Even if you’re not changing ink types, regularly cleaning your pen will ensure it continues to write smoothly for a long time to come.  

Before Storage

Unlike ballpoint pens or gel pens that can be left unused for long periods, fountain pens shouldn’t be left with ink inside if not in use. If you aren’t going to use the pen within 1-2 weeks, it’s a good idea to clean the pen and store it without ink. This will ensure the ink doesn’t dry up and clog or possibly corrode internal mechanisms. It also prevents leaks that can make a huge mess.

If It’s Not Writing Properly

It’s probably obvious to most people to clean a fountain pen when it’s not writing properly. If you’re experiencing ink skipping, no ink at all, or big blotches, there might be an issue with the ink in your pen or with the way your pen is assembled. If that’s the case, a good cleaning should hopefully fix any writing issues you have. 

How to Clean a Fountain Pen
Pen shown: Kaweco Sport

How to Clean a Fountain Pen

Now, let’s go through step-by-step for the basic process of how to clean your fountain pen. 

Step 1: Disassemble the pen and rinse the nib section under cold water. If you’re using a cartridge, you can either store it as shown above or throw it out if you think there is issues with the ink. 

How to Clean a Fountain Pen

Step 2: Place the nib section in a cup of clean water to soak. This will help remove any stubborn ink. You may need to replace the water if it becomes saturated with ink. 

How to Clean a Fountain Pen

Step 3: Dry thoroughly for at least 24 hours.

What to do if your fountain pen won't write

Step 4: Reassemble and replace the cartridge.

How to Clean a Fountain Pen

If you’re still experiencing issues or want a more in-depth clean, you can also flush the pen using a converter, an internal mechanism, or a modified cartridge or completely disassemble the pen. However, disassembling the pen requires some patience and an understanding of how a fountain pen works to ensure it’s properly reassembled. 

Check out our guide for a more in-depth guide on cleaning your pen, including how to clean various parts like converters and internal mechanisms.

And there you have it, my guide for removing and saving half-full cartridges. This may not be worth it for everyone, but for those who don’t want to waste any ink and are maybe fickle about which color we want to write with today, this may be a great option. Do you have any advice for saving ink cartridges or other fountain pen ink tips? Let me know in the comments below, and we’ll try to share them with other fountain pen lovers.

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