Proper pen storage is essential not only for preventing leaks and spills but also for preventing the ink from your favorite pen from drying out. And since there isn’t one perfect storage solution for all writing tools, in this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover the correct storage practices for various types of pens.
By following our guide, you’ll learn all about how to store pens, including ballpoint pens, rollerball pens, gel pens, brush pens, fountain pens, and highlighters. So, without further ado, let’s start with some general guidelines that work for most pens.
General Pen Storage Tips
Our first tip is a no-brainer, and that’s capping your pen or retracting its tip when you aren't using it to prevent leakage and drying out. Next, you’ll need to keep your pens in a cool and dark place away from direct sunlight to prevent them from drying out faster than they would normally.
The additional tips vary from pen to pen, so let’s get into how you can store each type of pen optimally.
How To Store Ballpoint Pens
Ballpoint pens run on viscous oil-based ink, meaning you need to store them vertically with the tip pointed downwards. Because the ink is slower-moving, this position will enable it to flow freely next time you start using the pen.
Before you store your ballpoint pen, always retract it or add the cap to prevent the ink from drying out, and it’ll always be ready for your next writing session.
How To Store Rollerball Pens
Contrary to ballpoint pens, rollerball pens use water-based liquid ink, which is more fluid. Therefore, storing them vertically can easily cause unwanted ink spills, especially if you store them in your pocket.
The best way to store these writing tools is in a horizontal position, so they’re less likely to leak or dry out. Similar to storing ballpoint pens, you should always add the cap back on after each use to prevent the tip from drying out.
How To Store Gel Pens
Gel pens run on a water-based gel that consists of biopolymers, such as xanthan gum, that create a thick, smooth-flowing ink that doesn’t leak as easily as liquid inks. This gives you the opportunity to store gel pens both horizontally and vertically, with vertical storage being the more optimal option. To prevent your gel pen from leaking, it should be stored vertically in a pen box with the tip facing upwards.
However, most gel pens are stored horizontally in pencil cases, which is a good idea if you use your gel pen on a regular basis. When storing the pen horizontally, you can start using it immediately, however, if you store it vertically, it may take a few seconds for the ink to start flowing, but you’ll avoid accidental leaks. Regardless of the way you end up storing your gel pen, you must always place the cap on top after each use to prevent the tip from drying.
How To Store Fountain Pens
Storing a fountain pen requires the most effort because the storage option guidelines depend on how long you’re planning to store your pen. That being said, using a fountain pen is the most rewarding, so it’s worth the effort. While we’ve covered fountain pen storage in more depth in our “How to store your fountain pen like a pro” piece, here we’ll just cover the basics.
Generally, you’d like to store your fountain pen at room temperature between 18° and 22°C (64-72°F) in a cool, dry place, that’s away from direct sunlight to prevent it from drying. The pen can be stored either horizontally in a leather pen case or with the nib pointed up, depending on how long you store it. Let’s get into the specifics.
Storing Your Fountain Pen While Using It
Fountain pen storage is important even when using your pen. The second you pause using it, you should immediately cap it to prevent the nib from drying out and keep it horizontal to prevent any unwanted leaks.
Storing Your Fountain Pen Overnight or For a Few Days
While horizontal storage works best as you’re using the pen, you shouldn’t leave it horizontally overnight because the nib may start to dry and you’ll need to clean it before using it again. In this situation, it’s best to store the pen vertically, with the nib pointing up to prevent it from drying and leaking. You may need to wait a bit for the ink to descend down to the top of the nib the next time you use it, but your fountain pen will thank you. Don’t store your pen vertically for over 2 weeks, since long-term storage requires additional steps.
Storing Your Fountain Pen For Long Periods
Long-term fountain pen storage requires you to completely empty it if you don’t plan on using it for longer than two weeks. It’s best to only fill the pen with a little bit of ink and use all of it before emptying a pen for longer periods. We’d advise against putting the ink back in the ink bottle because you risk contaminating the rest of your ink with residual paper fibers, dust, dirt, and anything that can get on your pen.
Next, you should clean it with warm water and then leave it to dry completely before storing it in a pen case. Once the pen is clean, place the cap and store it either vertically or horizontally. When you decide to use your pen again, you can refill it with ink or add a new cartridge.
Storing Your Fountain Pen While Travelling
Because temperature, humidity, and travel can have an impact on your pen, it’s best to keep the reservoir completely empty to prevent leaks, and lay the pen horizontally, especially if you’re traveling by plane.
How To Store Highlighters
The fibre tips of highlighters can dry really fast if you leave them uncapped for a while, so it’s best to place the cap immediately after you’ve used them. Then, you can place the highlighters in a pen box vertically with their tip placed down.
How To Store Brush Pens
To ensure that your brush pens create vibrant lines, it’s best to store them horizontally. Double-ended brush pens should also be stored on the side to enable proper ink flow on both ends. Don’t forget to place the lids on both ends of the brush once you’ve finished using them to prevent them from drying out.
Should pens be stored flat or upright?
Certain types of pens should be stored horizontally, while others should be stored vertically. Fountain pens (when inkless) and brush pens should be stored horizontally, while other types of pens should be stored vertically with the tip facing down.
How do I store my pen collection?
To keep your pens in optimal condition, store them away from direct sunlight in a dry and cool place. When traveling, it’s best to keep the ink reservoir completely empty to prevent unwanted spills.
Can I take pens on a plane?
It’s allowed to take pens in your carry-on, which you can then place in the overhead compartment or under your seat. The pens should be placed vertically in the pen pockets with the tip placed upright.
We all know that it’s important to take good care of our pens to be able to keep them working until we use every last drop of ink, and proper storage is essential for that. This not only makes our pens last longer but it also saves us money in the process.
Whether you’re a pen collector or someone who just wants to keep their pens in good condition, we hope that this guide was useful. By following our tips, you’ll be able to store each type of pen correctly to prevent any damage and preserve their longevity.
Let us know your thoughts about how you store your pens and give us additional tips if we haven’t mentioned them already.