How to Make Gel Pens Work Again? – 6 Effective Methods

Written by Laura Walker / Fact checked by Leilani Carroll

how to make gel pens work again

If you have been using gel pens for some time, you probably know they tend to dry out. That’s why knowing how to make gel pens work again is rather convenient.

Are you searching for this guide because you are in the middle of writing and sketching right now, but the pen stops working? Well, check out the quick methods below.

You will also discover why gel pens dry out, and we’ll answer some common questions when reviving gel pens.

6 Ways to Make Gel Pens Work Again

Method 1: Shake the pen


This technique is the easiest way since you don’t need to use other tools to fix gel pens that won’t write. Giving the pen a gentle shake will help remove the air bubbles inside the ink cartridge.

One of the reasons why gel pens stop working is when their ink cartridge is filled with air bubbles. Consequently, this happens because they are not properly stored.


  • Place the gel pen vertically between your thumb and index finger.
  • Gently shake it sidewards for about 30 seconds.
  • Get your scratch paper to test if the gel pen is working again.

Method 2: Use warm water


If you tried shaking the pen and you still fail to fix gel pen ink flow, try using warm water in the following ways:

a. Put a small amount of warm water in the cartridge hole.


  • Prepare warm water and place it in a disposable cup.
  • Remove the pen cap, then unscrew the barrel to get the ink cartridge.
  • Hold the ink cartridge using your left hand with the ventilation hole pointing to your face.
  • Use a dropper with your right hand to put a tiny droplet of water inside the cartridge hole.
  • Gently shake the ink cartridge and quickly blow the ink inside to encourage ink flow.
  • Try scribbling to check if you get gel pens to work.

b. Submerge the lower half of the ink cartridge in warm water.

Follow the first and second steps from the previous instructions, then;


  • Step 1: Put the ink cartridge tip-down on the disposable cup half filled with warm water.
  • Step 2: Let the refill sit there for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Step 3: Retrieve the cartridge from the disposable cup, then check if you were successful in reviving the gel pen.

c. Put the ink cartridge above a steaming kettle.

Likewise, you can also try this approach by positioning your hand close enough to unclog the ink buildup on the pen nib.

Hence, heat is the desired element to revive a dead pen. It works wonders to solve one reason gel pens suddenly stop working.

The ink tends to clog on or inside the tip of the gel pen nib. Consequently, this leads to gel pens not working. Continue reading to learn more about solving this problem.

Method 3: Wipe the pen nib with a damp cloth.

Suppose you are wary about making use of heat, given you are aware that plastic refills tend to melt when heated for too long.

Worry not because there are safer ways to get a gel pen to write again.


  • Find a soft cloth and soak it in lukewarm water.
  • Position your gel pen to see the nib properly.
  • Repeatedly wipe the pen tip until the dried ink peels off.
  • Scribble on scratch paper to see the result.

Method 4: Dip the pen nib in rubbing alcohol.

Rubbing alcohol is an excellent nonpolar solvent. Therefore, utilizing it instead of water may produce better results.


  • Pour rubbing alcohol in a disposable cup just enough to submerge only the pen’s tip.
  • Dip the gel pen’s nib for a couple of seconds.
  • Get the pen from the cup, then dry the nib with a damp cloth.
  • Try writing on scratch paper to know if this method worked well.

If you are still unsuccessful, you can use acetone instead of rubbing alcohol and follow the same steps above.

Note that acetone is a more potent solvent than alcohol, so you should be careful while using it. Likewise, do not touch your eyes and nose to avoid irritation.

Method 5: Insert a safety pin inside the tip of the pen.

Given that you already used solvents and still have no luck, we got you because we still have tricks up our sleeves!


  • Hold the gel pen with its nib facing towards you.
  • Get a safety pin, then stick it inside the pen’s tip.
  • Gently grind the hardened ink in a circular motion.
  • Wipe the pen’s nib with a damp cloth to clean the ink residue.
  • Check if you succeeded in restoring your gel pen by scribbling or doodling on scratch paper.

Method 6: Replace the pen’s nib with an old one from an empty refill.


Upon inspecting the gel pen, you concluded that the problem is with the nib. You also tried all the steps elaborated above, but you still feel more frustrated than ever.

Then, your last resort is to replace the nib with an old one.


  • Find an old empty refill compatible with the gel pen you want to restore. Inspect the old gel pen’s nib to see if it is functioning well. If it is, then you can use it as a replacement.
  • Use small pliers to detach the empty refill’s nib and set it aside to use later.
  • Hold the gel pen you want to restore, then detach its nib with small pliers. Note that you must be careful with this step because the ink may flow away.
  • Get the old gel pen’s nib you previously detached and attach it to the new pen’s ink cartridge using small pliers.
  • Wipe the restored ink cartridge’s body with a damp cloth to remove any ink residue.
  • Try scribbling on scratch paper to see results.

Read more: Ways to refill Copic markers.

Frequently Asked Questions


Hey, we are glad that you reached this far. After knowing how to pass the “revive gel pen” mission, here are some answers to commonly asked questions.

Why do gel pens dry out?

The simple answer is that gel pens have water-based ink, which makes them prone to drying out.

Likewise, improper storage plays a part in why gel pens suddenly stop working. When the nibs are left uncapped, the air causes the ink to evaporate.

How to store gel pens properly?

As an artist or an enthusiast, it is imperative to keep your art supplies accordingly. You wouldn’t want to waste time having to restore them when needed.

Moreover, we recommend that you store your gel pens horizontally. Storing your gel pens with their tips pointing down might cause leaks since their ink is watery.

Similarly, keeping your gel pens with the tips facing up might cause air pockets in the refill which can cause hard starts or inconsistent flow.


There are some things in life that we cannot undo, but sometimes we get lucky to restore things to the way they were, just like reviving a gel pen.

Simple ways such as shaking your pen, using solvents, or replacing the nib are some ways to restore your dried-out gel pens or dry erase markers. However, your imagination is still the limit.

After reading this article, we hope that we were able to help you answer “how to make gel pens work again”. Good luck with your artistic endeavors!

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