essential fountain pen accessories

What Are Some Essential Fountain Pen Accessories?

John BosleyAccessories 20 Comments

If you’ve been a fountain pen user for more than a few weeks, you know that there are many different accessories that help make the experience of using a fountain pen easier. If you’re just getting started with fountain pens, or want to learn a new trick or two, hopefully you’ll find this article useful. Let’s go over some essential fountain pen accessories.

What Are Fountain Pen Accessories?

While the term fountain pen accessories can cover a wide range of items, for this article it means items that make using a fountain pen easier and more convenient. This covers a wide range of items, ranging from cleaning supplies to storage solutions. In drawing on my years of fountain pen use, I have come up with a list that I think everyone will find useful. While none of the following items are absolutely necessary for fountain pen use, each one has a place in my kit and gets used on a regular basis. Here are my essential fountain pen accessories:

Blunt Tipped Syringe

A blunt tipped syringe is an extremely useful tool for transferring ink between containers. If you want to take ink from a bottle and fill a small vial, a syringe is the perfect tool for the job. Similarly, if you want to take ink from a bottle and refill a cartridge, I don’t know of any easier way to do it.

Syringes can also be used for cleaning purposes. If you want to squirt water inside of a cartridge or pen barrel, a syringe can get into small spaces and squirt water exactly where you want it to go.

fountain pen accessories syringe

This blunt tipped syringe can be used for filling ink vials as well as cleaning inside of pens.

Sample Vials

If you ever want to give or receive ink samples, you’re going to need some small vials. The most popular size are 5ml vials with a screw-top lid. These are what all of the major pen retailers use for their ink samples, which means they get shipped all over the world and rarely leak. Still, it’s best to exercise some caution and assume the vials might leak since they occasionally do.

fountain pen accessories ink sample vials

If you ever want to give or receive ink samples, make sure you have some of these small 5ml screw top vials.

Baking Sheet

One of my most indispensable accessories is a baking sheet. While you’ve probably used these for making cookies, they are great for fountain pens as well! Any time I’m filling or cleaning a pen, this is my work surface, not my kitchen counter or tabletop. If anything spills, the mess is contained and is easy to clean up. I also keep all of my supplies on it, so everything is within reach. If I need to relocate for some reason, I just pick up the tray and move everything at once. The sheet doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should have slightly raised sides and be of high enough quality that it lays flat and doesn’t flex and knock everything over every time you touch it.

fountain pen accessories baking sheet

I grabbed this baking sheet directly from my desk. You can see how convenient it is to have everything for pen filling and cleaning in one place.

Squeeze Syringe (Bulb)

A squeeze bulb is an extremely useful tool for pen cleaning. You can suck a bunch of water into it and then force water through a nib, quickly washing out any ink that’s hiding inside. The small tip should fit perfectly into most pen sections, allowing all of the water to go directly through the nib and not flow out of the top. Just be careful that you hold on to the nib so it doesn’t go flying into your sink when you squeeze the bulb.

fountain pen accessories bulb syringe

These bulbs are great for squeezing water through a nib and cleaning out excess ink.

Cotton Swabs

As you probably already know, cotton swabs (like Q-Tips) have many different uses around the house. It’s no different in the world of fountain pens. Most people use them for swabbing ink onto paper. This gives you a good idea of what an ink looks like without having to fill a pen with it. Cotton swabs can also be used for cleaning a pen’s exterior or ink from the inside of a cap. These are the main things that I use them for, but I’m sure there are many other uses as well. I’d suggest picking up a small travel box of cotton swabs that you can keep with your pen supplies.

fountain pen accessories cotton swabs

A small container of cotton swabs is a great thing to keep in your pen accessory kit.

Small Jar

I have a small jar that I use specifically for pen cleaning. It gets used as a source for filling pens with water and soaking nibs. I keep it with my pen cleaning supplies so I don’t ever have to steal any dishes from my kitchen. Every once in a while I run it through the dishwasher just to make sure it stays clean.

fountain pen accessories jar

This small jar is the perfect size for soaking nibs and easily fits in my accessory storage box.

Small Cloth

A small cloth is extremely useful for wiping down your nib and pen after filling from an ink bottle. While a paper towel also works just fine, it is much more convenient and sustainable to keep one cloth with your ink that you always use for this purpose. Pretty much any type of lint-free cloth works. I use a spare lens cleaning cloth that I got with a pair of sunglasses and it works great.

fountain pen accessories nib cloth

I use this lens cloth to wipe my nibs and pens after filling them up.

Paper Towels

Essential for wiping up ink and water, as well as wiping hands so you don’t get ink on the kitchen towels, you should always have a roll of paper towels available when filling or cleaning a fountain pen.

fountain pen accessories paper towels

Paper towels need no explanation as to how useful they are around fountain pens and ink.

Jewelers Loupe

If your pen is giving you issues and you want to make sure your nib is aligned and is not damaged, you’ll need a loupe. These allow you to closely examine a nib and see much more detail than you could ever see with your naked eye. While it is not necessary, loupes that have LED lighting make it much easier to examine your nib.

fountain pen accessories loupe

This jewelers loupe can help you get a good look at your nib to see if it has any damage.

Popsicle Stick

Have you ever had a box of ink that’s really hard to open? If you’re like me and don’t like tearing the cardboard, here’s a trick for you. Slide a popsicle stick under the top of the box near the front and then gently twist it. The box will open and won’t tear! This works especially well on vintage ink boxes where the cardboard is very fragile. Popsicle sticks also come in handy for suspending the chromatography paper if you do ink chromatography. Regardless of the use, I’d suggest getting some clean popsicle sticks from a craft store rather than saving a few used ones from a hot summer day.

fountain pen accessories ink box opener

Popsicle sticks make opening ink boxes very easy. Simply slide under the lid and twist.

Blotting Paper

Have you ever been writing a letter or in a journal and not been able to move to the next page because your ink is taking too long to dry? Then you need some blotting paper! Blotting paper can be used either by itself or with a rocker blotter, but it works the same either way. When placed on top of wet writing, it quickly soaks up any excess ink. To use it by itself, just keep a sheet with you when you write. When you need to use it, lay it flat on the wet ink, press for a few seconds, and then lift it off. The ink on the paper should now be dry! I keep a small piece in my journals so I don’t have to worry about turning pages or closing the cover.

fountain pen accessories blotting paper

Blotting paper comes in many shapes and sizes, but it all helps to absorb ink off of a page.

Sticky Tack

Sticky tack is the stuff that can be used to hang posters on walls without using nails. In the world of fountain pens, it can also be useful! If you’ve ever tried to fill a pen from a sample vial, you know how easy they are to knock over. If you put some sticky tack on the bottom of the vial (which is on a baking sheet and not your countertop, right?), it will be much harder to knock over while filling your pen.

Another great use for it is to hold pens in place when you’re taking photos of them. If your pen keeps rolling to one side while you’re trying to photograph it, a little piece of sticky tack on the bottom should keep it steady for the photo.

fountain pen accessories sticky tack

Sticky tack can hold a sample vial or a pen in place so it doesn’t move around.


Sooner or later you’re going to have an ink stain that needs cleaned up. Whether it’s on some fabric or on your skin, Amodex is my ink remover of choice. I always keep a bottle of it handy just in case I need it. Be sure to follow the directions for the best results. This means that to remove ink from skin, you want to use this before washing your hands with water.

fountain pen accessories ink remover amodex

Amodex is a great ink remover that works on both fabric and skin.

Storage Box

Now that you have all of these accessories, you need somewhere to keep them all stored and organized. I found a
storage box (actually a tackle box) that works great for me. It has plenty of small compartments and dividers that keep everything nice and tidy. I would highly suggest going to look at these in person so you can decide whether or not the dividers and compartments are the right size for your accessories.

fountain pen accessories storage box

I bought this tackle box to help keep all of my pen accessories and repair items organized.

5ml Ink VialsPerfect for ink samples.
Magnifier LoupeThis is extremely useful for checking a nib for damage.
Bulb SyringeUsed for cleaning inside of pens and forcing water through nibs.
AmodexInk remover that works on fabric and skin.
Blotting PaperGreat to use if you have slow-drying ink.
Baking SheetProtects surfaces from ink spills and keeps everything together.
Cleaning ClothVery useful for wiping ink from nibs and pens after filling.
Tackle BoxKeeps all of your pen supplies organized in one place.
Sticky TackGreat for holding ink vials in place while filling. Also useful to keep pens in place for photos.
Blunt-tipped SyringeIdeal for transferring ink to sample vials. Can also be used to squirt water into pens.

Comments 20

  1. This is a great list. To keep ink off my hands when cleaning pens and messing with ink, I use the blue gloves that doctors and nurses use. Disposable, cheap and you still have a good feel for the item you are holding.

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      That’s a great idea, Myles! I personally don’t like wearing those gloves (just a personal preference), but they would definitely help with ink stains and even dry hands from lots of water! Thank you!

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      The tray has saved me (or my countertops) on more than one occasion. I like the shot glass idea! That’s something most people already have laying around. Thanks for reading, Arlene!

  2. I never thought about a way to not tear the cardboard of a box, I usually just end up tearing it or spending ages and it still ends up creased.

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  3. I like Arlene’s idea about the shot glass. Thanks! I have a couple very soft cloth oooold diapers that I rotate using to polish pen bodies, lay stuff on to dry, and quickly sop up water or ink from pens and surfaces. Most diaper service places sell well worn ones in packs. I use a lot fewer paper towels around the house in general because nothing beats a cloth diaper for cleaning most everything.

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      Using old cloth diapers is a fantastic idea to keep the use of paper towels to a minimum, Lisa. I’d be a little worried about washing them with my other laundry for fear of getting ink on other things. Any tips or experience on that? I guess they could just be rinsed beforehand to get out extra ink.

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      Hi there! Thank you so much for bringing that site to my attention. I did not give them permission to use my content and have contacted them.

      Glad to hear you already have a good starter kit on hand! I think you’ll find that they all come in pretty handy from time to time. Hope you enjoy your pens!

  4. I like the popsicle stick idea. I’m always tearing boxes when I open them. I’ll have to try it. I also use a small piece of leather to grip the nib / feed when I unscrew it (if it’s a screwable unit) and an empty cartridge with the end cut off for flushing Pilot nib units with a syringe. A cuter way to protect your ink sample vial from spills is an Ink-A-Pet. It’s a small 3D printing business run by an 8 year old boy with help from his parents.

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  5. I completely agree. Anytime that I am dealing with inks, filling or cleaning fountain pens, moving ink between containers, etc.
    I would add that I am always frustrated when I hear about pen cleaners. Some people need to spend a few minutes reading the ingredients contained therein. A single bottle of ammonia, costing somewhat less than two (<$2.00) dollars (USD) that at times perhaps requiring the addition of some very simple tap water due to evaporation (using distilled water will work as well, but that would also defeat the purpose of this note), stored in a in a clear glass container, left on a window sill where it will be exposed to sunlight for a few days (for those readers in Alaska, you might need to store some up in the summer time) will accomplish the same tasks, and will achieve an equivalent outcome in comparison to the special pen cleaners. I use the "non-suds producing" or some such household variant, my large bottle bottle having been purchased for me by a wonderful lady, a housekeeper who was born in the Netherlands (Holland), and unfortunately has passed on several years ago, hence I cannot discover her purpose in purchasing that variant, perhaps for use in the ultrasound jewelry cleaner which was actually utilized to clean jewelry as well as pen nibs. Even after the addition of water to compensate of the evaporation that has occurred over frequent periods, it still works fine in cleaning my grossly underutilized collection of fountain pens that have appeared on my desk, mostly purchased upon impulse, or having been received as a gift from someone who could not figure out what else to give to me on one or more occasions in my lifetime. It has been said, behind my back of course, that for me to use all of these fountain pens at one sitting would cause me to appear as being as foolish as some of those Governors, and POTUS's (POTUSii?) appearing at the signing of some form of legislation where they feel the necessity to giving away as many pens as could possibly be distributed by using each pen to make a small mark on the paper which taken in their totality as constituting their original signature. I have to admit that POTUS Trump preferred to use only one of those felt-tipped pen in lieu of a real "fountain pen" at the time a bill was signed and then just handed out duplicate pens that had never touched the paper but it was a small step to assuage egos by giving away some pens at the specific bill passing through the legislative process.
    Depending upon how many fountain pens that you own, and how frequently you thoroughly clean your fountain pens, including how much of the high-dollar specially blended liquids that were labelled as being a special concoction designed for that purpose, and that purpose alone, that you shall purchase (although previously purchased high dollar pen cleaning fluids cannot be remediated simply by not using them any more, the money most probably cannot be recovered unless you can still return them to the vendor). Over a general fountain pen owner's lifetime, myself serving as ,an example, and if they are someone who may actually write with the fountain pen, someone such as myself, who learned penmanship using an original Esterbrook fountain pen, which was a relief from the dip pen and inkwell on the desk, (OK, I may be just a bit older than most, but that truly is how I learned penmanship, and I know of many others who have learned the same way, although I cannot remember the name of the methodology that was generally used in public school systems, hopefully a reader will fill in that blank), and subsequently having unlearned how to write legibly on virtually any printed document placed upon my desk, which in any manner resembled a prescription pad, and more recently I have learned the wonders of dictation, which magically converts what I say into the printed word overnight. My fountain pens were then relegated to the lowly purpose of placing my signature on those very few documents such as (paper) checks, and on documents that are now filed on behalf of clients, in the few state courts of record which resist accepting electronic signatures.
    I apologize if you have traversed this entire, yet fail to acknowledge that my overall savings were sufficient to purchase either a Montblanc 149 pen or a Pelikan 1000 fountain pen that I shall elect to use when the urge hits me, and I shall also clean the nibs of these pens,18k gold with or without a precious metal coating to further justify its retail list price. You, too, can achieve any similar goal of acquiring such a premiere quality writing instrument if you only resolve to utilize the liquid that is identified by its generic name, and while you might require an infinite number of bottles of the most expensive dedicated usage fountain pen nib to achieve the same task as the lowly generic equivalent. In the end, if need be buy your first bottle of boutique pen cleaner, save the box and the bottle therein, and refill it with the generic liquid repeated until you have saved enough to purchase whatever first tier, overpriced fountain pen with the saving that have accrued that shall have, accelerated by the wonders of the accumulation of compound interest.
    It, the refilling of an empty bottle of a top-tier brand with the lowliest shelf-brand examples of the same type of liquor, works well for a segment of the bartenders of New Orleans during Mardi Gras, being careful to only serve same to customers after they have consumed at least two (2), or perhaps even three (3) drinks from a bottle on the shelve that has not been refilled. And any pen owner can perform this task on their own fountain pens without fear of being arrested by the Liquor Control Board, or the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the operative jurisdiction being "Alcohol" as Federal statutes make it a criminal act to refill an empty bottle of a premium-grade liquor with anything that is intended to be sold at any licensed premises. Alas, but any knowledgeable bar-hopping elite would easily recognize such an attempt to deceive by such evidence as the condition of the label on the bottle. There is quite a noticeable concurrent decrease in quality of the printing of the label when a bottle has been used a significant number of times in furtherance of this illicit scheme or artifice. One need not be proficient in the use of a Williams Reagent Kit to make such a determination, the observations notwithstanding..
    Finally, courtesy of Southwest Airlines, I must admit that I had too much times on my hand, and a fully-charged laptop standing by, with a worthy dictation program which readily converts my voice to the printed page (or computer monitor). Our firm would truly benefit from acquiring a partial interest in a private jet that will not be subject to the whims of Southwest Airlines "IT" unit. Perhaps their questionable IT pros might be the first worthy substitution project for the implementation of an Artificial Intelligence (AI) within the existential corporate environment

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      Thank you for your thoughts! It’s true that most boutique pen cleaners are just ammonia water. Sometimes it’s just easier and more comforting to buy it premixed rather than mixing it up yourself.

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