How to Clean Calligraphy Nibs

When it comes to cleaning calligraphy pen nibs, you may be glad to hear that the process is simple. However, there are a few key things to pay attention to in order to clean it effectively and not damage the pen.

The post below includes how to clean calligraphy nibs as well as the best practices to avoid damaging them. 

New Calligraphy Nib Coating

The first thing to know is that the nib of calligraphy pens comes with wax or oil coatings. These act as a protective coating to make sure that the nib doesn’t rust and stays clean for longer when it’s not being used. 

This is especially useful for dip pen nibs that are sitting in shops or factories ready to be sold. It’s best to keep this coating on the nib right up until the point that you’re ready to use it. This ensures that you prolong the lifespan of the nib. 

Once the coating is removed, the nib will gradually start diminishing after being used until it’s eventually too dirty and rusted. 

Cleaning Calligraphy Nibs With Water

  • All you need to clean a calligraphy nib is clean water and a dry cloth or paper towel. 
  • Start by filling up a cup with water. Make sure to keep this cup nearby whilst you practice calligraphy. Once you notice that the ink flow begins to dry on the calligraphy nib, gently move the nib around in the water for just a couple of seconds.
  • Be sure to dry the nib instantly with a cloth or paper towel and continue with your writing. 
  • Depending on the type of ink that you’re using, the number of times that you have to apply the calligraphy dip pen into the water will vary. For example, inks that are thinner won’t need to be dipped in the water as much compared to thicker types of ink. 
  • When you’re completely done with your writing, move the calligraphy nib around in the cup of water before drying it completely with a paper towel or cloth. 
  • The technique involved with dip pens and water is incredibly important. This is because most beginners have a habit of dunking their nibs in the water too vigorously and for too long.
  • This can cause the nibs to rust more quickly. Make sure to only dip the tip into the water to the point where it meets the reservoir or just above it. Move it around in the water gently for just two seconds before removing it. 
  • If the nib gets dipped too far into the water, remove it and dry it as quickly as possible. If too much moisture gets inside the pen, it will lessen the quality of the nib and cause it to rust more quickly. 
  • A cotton swab can be used to remove some of the excess moisture if you’re using a straight pen or pointed pen nibs. However, oblique pens prove to be tricker. All you can do with these pens is dry them with a cloth and leave them to air dry and hope that it wasn’t exposed to too much water. 
  • To remove the dried ink on the edges and in the crevices of your calligraphy nibs, you can scrub it with a soft toothbrush. Baking soda can be used as an effective pen cleaner.
  • You can sprinkle a little baking soda onto the nib and moisten the toothbrush with warm water.
  • Gently scrub it in between each session for the best results.

Also Read: How to Write With a Calligraphy Pen


After reading through our post, we hope that you’re feeling more assured about how to clean your calligraphy pens to ensure that they’re clean and last longer so that you can continue creating calligraphy.

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Written By Adam Rushton

Adam has made a name for himself in the illustration industry and is a passionate blogger and writer on the subject of art, illustration and graphic design.

His artwork has been featured in countless publications and used for very well-known media projects. As a professional illustrator for over 20 years, Adams media outlets, a wealth of knowledge, and experience enable him to consult and advise artists and illustrators in this country (from York and Manchester to Southampton and London) and all over the world.