Goulet Pen Flush Tutorial

Sometimes water just isn't enough when it comes time to clean your fountain pens. That's where a pen flush can really help out, and at GouletPens.com we've developed our own Goulet Pen Flush to help you give your pen a thorough cleaning. We've formulated a gentle yet effective solution to help loosen any residual ink hanging out in your pen.

Normally, cleaning your pen just with water is fine, and I talk about the proper way to maintain your pens in my Fountain Pen 101 video on Pen Cleaning and Maintenance. But when you need an extra cleaning boost, that's where pen flush can really help.

Goulet Pen Flush bottle

Goulet Pen Flush comes in an 8 fl. oz. bottle in "Goulet Blue" with a twist-cap, as well as a small vial.

Here are some scenarios where a pen flush can help you clean your pen better than water alone:

  • When you have a new pen. It helps to clean it with a flush because residual oils leftover from manufacturing equipment can impede your ink flow, even if the pen is brand new out of the box. Pens in all price ranges can have oils and debris leftover from manufacturing, so it's good to clean it before using it for the first time to make sure your pen is in tip-top shape.
  • When you have an old pen. If you have a friend or relative that had a fountain pen sitting in a desk drawer for 10 years and gives it to you because they know ‚Äėyou're into them', chances are that pen wasn't properly cleaned and stored. Before just sticking that old pen in your ink bottle (and possibly contaminating the ink), and before sending the pen off for repair, it's a good idea to try to get it as clean as you can before taking any more drastic measures. If the pen had ink in it and it's all dried up, you may want to resort to soaking it in the flush for a day or two to loosen up the old ink.
  • When you let your pens dry out with ink in them. If you're like me, you are addicted to pens and want to continually add to your collection. Combine this with a love for trying many different ink colors and a natural inclination for procrastinating cleaning your pens, and what you'll end up with is dozens of pens that have been left to sit with ink drying out in them. I'm not proud of it but I do this a lot. Using a flush helps to cut through that dried ink and get the pen back in working order faster than water alone.
  • When you are cleaning out a stubborn ink. There are a host of different pen inks around, and they all have different properties. Some of the most magnificent inks come with a drawback of being a bit of a pain to clean out of the pen. Pen flush will help to move those inks out of there so you can get on to your next ink color.
  • When your pen just isn't flowing like it used to. Even with regular flushing with water, paper fibers and dust can work their way into your need and your nib slit and build up over time. If you use the same pen regularly and seem to remember that it used to write a lot wetter than it does now, it may be time to use a flush to break down that built up stuff in there to get it flowing smoothly again.

Part of our motivation for designing Goulet Pen Flush was the delivery system. We use a LOT of flush ourselves, and we also ship and store a lot of things. All of the pen flush we've seen offered before is in glass bottles. And while we like the heft and aesthetics of a glass bottle, we ultimately decided that it wasn't as practical for the use of a flush as we felt we could design. We wanted a bottle that was more durable than glass and would also be able to work with the method of using the flush that I most preferred. What I personally was doing with my own pen cleaning regimen was to decant a small amount of pen flush into an ink sample vial using an ink syringe, and I would clean my pens from this vial. When the vial of flush looked too gross for my liking, I would just empty it and fill it again with clean flush from my larger bottle. This would keep my bottle clean, and allow me to use clean flush on a regular basis.

We decided to incorporate my method into the Goulet Pen Flush system. You can use the twist-top cap on the big bottle to easily refill your small vial without having to use a syringe or eyedropper. You can keep the vial and use it as many times as you want, emptying the pen flush whenever you feel it is getting too dirty for your liking. Of course, you can always flush directly into the bottle if you feel it's a better method, that's completely your preference.

Goulet Pen Flush bottle held at a downward angle

The Goulet Pen Flush bottle is designed to make decanting flush into a smaller (included) vial easy.

Goulet Pen Flush bottle with a nib unit and converter being cleaned

You can flush your pen as many times as you want in the vial, and empty it when you want to put clean flush in.

Sample Size vial of Goulet Pen Flush

The 0.5" diameter vial is large enough to accommodate all but the biggest of pens, for those you can just use a small cup of your choice for flushing.

Using pen flush is easy, especially if you're incorporating it into your regular pen maintenance. Essentially, you just remember water-flush-water. What that means is that you use water to clean the ink out of your pen just like you normally would. Try to get out as much as you can. Then, use the pen flush, cleaning your pen in exactly the same manner as you did with your water. Depending on just how dirty your pen is, you may only need a few fill-flush cycles, or you may need to actually let it sit in the pen for a little bit. You'll have to use your own best judgment depending on the severity of your pen's condition. Once your flushing is done, then you do a few quick fill-flush cycles with clean water again to remove all the flush, use a paper towel to draw the remaining water from your nib/feed, and you're good to go!

If you are using a clear demonstrator pen and you have a particularly stubborn ink, it may be to your advantage to actually take the pen apart (as much as you're able/comfortable) and physically scrub the inky pen parts with a toothbrush or Q-tip soaked in pen flush. You'll have to use your judgment about the best method for your individual pens. Just remember to always rinse your pen with clean water as a final step before you ink it up.

Now for the disclaimer stuff. This is a cleaning solution and should be treated with the same care that you would any other household cleaner. Do not drink this or get it in your eyes, it is an irritant and you'll find it quite unpleasant. Keep it out of reach of your kids or your pets. Don't soak aluminum pens in the flush as the main cleaning ingredient (ammonium hydroxide) will eventually react with aluminum if left on it for a prolonged period of time. It'll be okay if it gets on aluminum and you wipe it off, you just don't want to soak it for days/weeks in the flush. Also, don't mix it with bleach! This formula does not contain any alcohol, so it will be safe for use in celluloid and celluloid-derivative pens.

Goulet Pen Flush bottle back

Instructions, ingredients, and warning are all on the bottle of Goulet Pen Flush.

Goulet Pen Flush comes in a blue plastic 8 fl. oz. bottle in Goulet Blue with a twist cap, and one empty ink vial for easy decanting. This system costs $11 and should last you quite a while, especially if you're reusing the vial of the flush. If you already have spare vials leftover from ink samples, you can reuse them to fill with flush to keep at both home and work, or around multiple sinks so you don't have to always go looking for your flush bottle. We're also offering it as part of a package set with a pair of ink syringes and a bulb syringe to help with all of your ink filling and cleaning needs. I do hope that you find our flush something that allows you to get more enjoyment out of your pens.