How to Stop a Gel Pen from Leaking

As with any mass-produced product, you’re going to find some defective pens, especially if you’ve purchased a large set. Even the brands that I love most cannot deliver consistently awesome pens 100% of the time. In one such set from Tanmit, one of my favorite brands, I found the following inconsistencies:

  • Incorrect cap color
  • Brand-new pens with little or no ink
  • Pens that don’t start without scribbling or shaking
  • Pens that leave white lines or marks when trying to fill a space

In a set of 60 to 100 gel pens, a few defective pens will not cause too much of a headache. The worst problem, though, for me anyway, is a set of gel pens where the majority of them leak and smear. Perhaps you can relate, as there is little else that will more quickly disrupt your journaling, drawing or coloring than a defective gel pen that leaks all over your page. There are some tips and tricks, though, that can help. In this post, I am going to discuss how to stop a gel pen from leaking. Here are some things that you can try.

Wipe the Nib with a Paper Towel

Sometimes wiping up the excess ink a few times on a clean paper towel is all you need to do to get a gel pen to stop leaking. Once the ink stops flowing and streaking onto the paper towel, you can try to write with the gel pen again. I suggest testing it out on some scratch paper first before you return to your notebook, sketch pad or coloring book. In addition, if you’ve found that any of the ink leaked onto your fingers, make sure you wash your hands before continuing so as not to smear any more ink on your page.

Check to Make Sure the Tip Isn’t Loose

Sometimes gel pens leak because the tip is not screwed on tightly enough. If the tip is loose, it does not allow for much control when writing, drawing or coloring. After you’ve used a paper towel to wipe up any excess ink, with the tip of the pen facing you, twist the cap clockwise to ensure that its fit with the barrel is tight. Again, be sure to clean any excess ink from your hands and fingers before returning to your work.

Allow the Ink to Dry Before Continuing

If you’re working on a drawing or a coloring book page and notice that the ink is flowing too quickly, wait for the ink to dry before continuing, especially if you are filling a large area. I have speared ink on several sketchbooks and coloring book pages because I continued filling in color when I should have waited. Even if you move to a different spot on the page, you can still accidentally smear ink, especially if your fingers or the side of your hand touches the part of the page where the ink is still wet.

You can get around this issue easily enough if you’re drawing or coloring, but if you’re journaling, it’s best to switch to a different pen altogether. Once you turn your page over, it will brush up against the previous page, and if the ink is very leaky and smears, you may not be able to read what you previously write.

Store Your Pens Correctly

Many people have reported that they can store their gel pens flat without issues, but the best practice is to store your gel pens horizontally. This can be confusing, because pens from manufacturers often come in a case that requires vertical storage. Storing pens vertically, though, will put extra pressure on the tip and force the ink toward the end of the barrel, causing it to possibly flow faster than intended. Storing your pens on a flat surface will prevent this from happening and might even improve the longevity of your pens.

If All Else Fails, Ask for a Refund

Despite your best efforts to research a brand carefully, there will be times when you will get a bad set of gel pens. As I mentioned, this is an issue with any mass-produced product, which is sometimes why you see rave reviews followed by someone who had a terrible experience. If the product performs badly enough, it can be enough to swear you off a brand forever. Most vendors, though, want customers to have a great experience and will provide a refund if their product is truly defective.

If you have a set of gel pens where more than 20% of the pens don’t write or leak, then you are perfectly justified in asking for a refund. If you decide to ask for a refund, include photos if you can of the defective merchandise, such as an image taken with your iPhone showing that the pen leaked all over your blank page. I also recommend that you be as polite as possible when describing the issues. You are more likely to get a favorable outcome if you handle the problem if you are kind to the customer service staff.

Understanding Expectations

It is important to understand that it is rare to order a set of 100 gel pens and have them all perform perfectly. You should expect to have an issue with around 10% of the pens. If you find, though, that you have a set of 100 pens and more than 15 of them leak, you can start to make a case for a refund, especially if you keep finding more pens that cause problems.

I hope this post was helpful and that it gives you an idea of what to expect when purchasing a large set of gel pens. It is unlikely that your set will be perfect, but luckily there are a few things you can try to reduce the number of leaks from your gel pens.