How Long Can You Leave Ink In A Fountain Pen?

Our content may have affiliate links that can result in commissions for qualifying purchases, full details in our privacy policy.

As the number of casual fountain pen users has been increasing recently we have noticed more and more people reaching out with a range of questions. More recently we have noticed a few people reaching out and asking questions similar to how long can you leave ink in a fountain pen?

Due to this being an area where we see a large number of people making mistakes and there being a large number of different variables involved, we have decided to publish our own dedicated article on the subject. Our hope is that we will be able to give you a better idea of how long you are able to leave your ink in your fountain pen before it will start to dry out and have issues.

Please keep in mind though, due to there being so many variables involved, there is no one size fits all answer. You may have two pens of the same model with different inks in them and their ink dries up at different time periods. You could also have two totally different pen models that may both have their ink dry up on you around the same time. To actually workout how long it takes for your fountain pen ink to dry out, you will have to do some trial and error.

How Often Are You Cleaning Your Pen

This is definitely an underrated factor when it comes to how long you are able to leave the ink in your fountain pen without it drying out as residual ink build up can end up causing problems. You should be cleaning your fountain pen with a cheap fountain pen flush kit on a regular basis to remove any dry in build up to help minimize these issues.

That said though, we are fully aware that most of our readers never clean or flush their pens and the dry ink attracts more ink and just continues to build up. This is why so many fountain pens have problems with inconsistent ink flow when it can easily be avoided with a few minutes of cleaning and a cheap flush kit.

Where Are You Storing Your Pens

Although this may sound basic, how your store your pens can actually play a surprising role in how long you are able to leave them without changing their ink. This is due to the ink path having more air in it and thus the ink drying out and potentially clogging the nib or feed of your pen faster than normal.

In our opinion, you should always use horizontal pen storage for your fountain pens to help make sure you are able the leave your ink in them for as long as possible with out issues. If you store your fountain pen nib up then gravity can take hold and pull ink away from the nib drying it out, if you store then nib down then you open yourself up to the pen leaking into its cap.

Storing your fountain pen horizontally is able to counter both of these options and keep ink in both the pens feed and its nib. This can then help minimize the oxidation of the ink in the pen and extend how long you are able to leave it without changing the ink or flushing your pen.

Does The Ink Matter

It is very common for people new to using a fountain pen to use cheap, low quality ink that will dry out much quicker than a decent ink and this can end up causing a number of issues with the pen. This is easily avoidable as there are some excellent, cheap inks on the market such as the Noodlers range that tend to last longer than the other cheap inks on the market while offering you a great writing experience without breaking the bank.

How Long Can You Leave Ink In A Fountain Pen

Although the majority of modern fountain pens should be fine with their ink being left in them for a week or two without the ink drying out, some can dry out in a matter of days even when kept in optimal conditions. Unfortunately, if the variables line up for your fountain pen to dry out in such a short period of time there really is not much that you are able to do as some of the designs for some fountain pen models just naturally dry out without regular use much quicker than others.

Does The Nib Size Matter

The nib size of your fountain pen can play into how long you are able to leave the ink in your pen without having to clean it or replace the ink. The finer nib sizes can tend to be left much longer without having any issues where as a medium nib size can start to dry out sooner but the broad or double-broad nib sizes can dry out much faster than their narrower counterparts.

As the medium and fine nib sizes do tend to be the most popular nib sizes in use in the west this tends to only become a minimal factor in how long it takes for your fountain pen ink to dry out but we wanted to point it out to our readers. On top of this, some modern broad and double-broad nibs will have a covered ink path to help prevent the ink from drying up when left in the pen without being used.

Piston Fillers Vs Cartridges

The differences between using a piston filler or a cartridge for your ink storage and delivery also comes into play when factoring in how long you are able to leave your pen without changing the ink in it. That said though, there are a number of factors that come into play with this and although a piston filler will usually last you longer than a cartridge, there are exceptions.

For example, an entry-level piston filler fountain pen or a pen with a damaged piston filler will tend to dry out and clog up sooner than an expensive cartridge-based fountain pen. On average though, a piston filler fountain pen that is not damaged will keep its ink in a better condition for a longer period of time than a cartridge-based pen.

What Is The Shelf Life Of Fountain Pen Ink

Fountain pen ink is able to last for between ten to sixty years depending on the formula of the ink and how it is stored. Keep in mind that this is when the ink is kept in a bottle that has been unopened. Once you actually open a new ink bottle the life expectancy of the ink drastically drops off and should be used as soon as possible.


That brings our article going over how long you are able to leave your ink in a fountain pen to a close. As we touched on, all of the factors in our article come into play so different inks with different formulas will last for a different period of time. Some fountain pens will start to have their ink dry out in a matter of days where others will take weeks and others may take months.