How to Clean Calligraphy Nibs: The Complete Guide

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If you are wondering how to clean calligraphy nibs – no need to worry – cleaning calligraphy nibs is simple. Cleaning a calligraphy nib requires you to swish your nib around in the water and then dry it. It is simple to clean a calligraphy nib, but several crucial things must be remembered.

You need to consider how long you need to clean the nib. Consider whether you need to clean the entire nib all at once. You need to know what type of water you need to use. The difference between tap water and distilled water is enormous.

How to Clean Calligraphy Nibs

Make Sure You Are Ready to Use Your Nibs

Every calligraphy nib that you purchase will come pre-coated with waxes and oils that the manufacturer applies to protect the nib. The manufacturer’s waxes and oils are there to help protect the calligraphy nib from rust and grime while they are in storage waiting to be sold.

It is essential not to remove the oil or wax until you are ready to use the calligraphy nib to keep your calligraphy nib in the best condition possible, 

Removing the Manufacturer’s Oils

Once you are ready to use your calligraphy nib, removing the oil or wax that the manufacturer applied is essential. If you don’t clean new calligraphy nibs before you use the nib, you will have problems writing with them.

There are a few ways to remove the oil or wax from your new calligraphy nib, but three of the best are to use toothpaste, dish detergent, or a potato.

Using a soft toothbrush to scrub toothpaste onto your calligraphy nub is one of the most effective ways to remove the oil and wax. After scrubbing with the toothbrush, rinse the calligraphy nub in a cup of water and then dry it off.

Instead of toothpaste, you can also use dish detergent instead. If you choose to do this, you just have to apply dish detergent to the soft toothbrush instead of toothpaste.

Another alternative is to stick your calligraphy nib into the side of a potato. Believe it or not, this is one of the best ways to remove the oil and wax from a calligraphy nib. The only problem is that if you leave the nib in for too long, it will rust.

Use Tap Water to Clean Your Nibs

Believe it or not, you do not need to use a special pen cleaner to clean your calligraphy nibs. Regular old tap water will work just fine for cleaning calligraphy nibs.

The best way to do this is to keep a cup of tap water by your side while creating calligraphy. Periodically, the ink flow from your pen will become obstructed by ink drying onto the nib.

How to clean calligraphy nibs
Image by todabasura from Pixabay

When this happens, you swirl the calligraphy nib around in the tap water for a few seconds and then use a cloth to dry the nib. Then you are ready to do calligraphy again.

Some Inks Require More Cleaning than Others Do

Some calligraphy inks will require you to spend more time cleaning your nibs than other inks will. Typically thinner inks will require you to spend very little time cleaning your nibs, while inks that are thicker and more paint-like will require you to clean.

Once you finish doing calligraphy for that session, it’s essential to spend a few more seconds swirling the nib around in your tap water extra thoroughly. Then take a little more time to dry the nib off properly, and you’re all set.

Don’t Get Water Inside the Pen

It’s essential to never get water inside of your calligraphy pen. It is important to dip your nib into the water, not dunk the nib. You will encounter multiple problems if you dunk your nib in the water like a paintbrush.

The first problem is that if water gets inside the pen, it will rust from the inside and is extremely difficult to cleanout. The second major problem is that ink can also get inside the pen. This then acts like glue and seals the nib to the pen.

You won’t be able to reuse or change the nib, and you’ll have to buy an entirely new pen.

Accidents happen, and you might accidentally dunk your nib too far into the water by mistake. If this happens, you want to stop immediately and try to remove the nib so that you can clean and dry both the nib and the pen.

Always Use Non-Fibrous Cloth to Clean Calligraphy Nibs

Some people use paper towels or fibrous cloths to dry their calligraphy nibs. This is a bad idea because this can leave little tiny fibres on the end of the calligraphy nib that you cannot see until you go to write with that nib.

Use a Toothbrush and Baking Soda To Clean a Calligraphy Nib

Sometimes, it is good to do a more thorough cleaning of your calligraphy nib between calligraphy sections. One way to do this is to clean the calligraphy nub with a toothbrush and baking soda.

The reason for using baking soda when cleaning a calligraphy nib between sessions is that baking soda helps lift the ink out of the metal of the calligraphy nib.

A Used Calligraphy Nib Is Not Going to Look Brand New

Unfortunately, no matter how thoroughly or often you clean your calligraphy nib, it will not look brand new forever. Over time, signs of wear and tear will show no matter what.

Final Thoughts

It’s essential to keep calligraphy nibs clean because this prolongs the lifespan of the nib and lets you neatly write beautiful calligraphy. A dirty calligraphy nib becomes unusable faster than a clean one.

By Sunelle

Follow my journey as I explore different paper and pen hobbies!