If you have ever experienced an ink stain in your pocket, relax – you’re not the only one. Pen leaks have been a common source of problems among people for years now. As a matter of fact, they have spoiled a variety of shirts and trousers with unwanted blots of ink all around.

However, have you ever wondered why it happened in the first place? You may have remembered putting the cap on. You may have even closed it tight. Surprisingly, there was still a leak. How then did the ink find its way to your clothes?

For some, it’s nothing less than a mystery.

Cast your worries aside because this write-up will throw light on its causes while also showing a few ways to reduce the number of leaks from your pens.


Let’s start with leaks. While many seem to think that leaking is caused because the cap was left open. That story isn’t entirely true. Leaking is the result of three common factors:

Change in temperature:

Pens often leak when the temperature is raised. For instance, people tend to walk with pens in a shirt pocket. However, the human body increases the heat where the ink becomes liquefied and is pushed to the tip or the end of the pen depending on gravity. No matter how well you cap it, temperature plays a crucial role when it comes to pen leaks.

Capillary action:

If you have ever noticed, sometimes the ink from a pen spreads when it comes in contact with a paper or fabric. What actually happens is that the ink is being pulled out without gravity or external forces onto the surface it touches (and absorbed in the case of fabric). This is what is known as capillary action. In fact, this can happen even if a pen’s nib is pointing upwards when placed in a shirt pocket.

Scratched pen tip:

If one writes with a pen at too much of an angle, the part holding the ball wears on the paper surface. Consequently, the pen tip gets scratched and the ink may leak out. The ball pen transfers the ink of the pen to paper by rotating the ball on the paper. For that reason, it is ideal to write at an angle greater than 60°when the ball rotates.

Manufacturing defects:

Many may not believe it but defects are a common cause of pen leaks. This is especially the case when you opt for cheap quality pens that are not designed to last. This, however, varies from brand to brand. Of course, the conditions of heat and placement are significant but sometimes, it is also due to the calibre of the pen. Hence, defects play a role when it comes to pen leaks.

Destruction of pen tip:

The pen tip has a very delicate structure in which a fine ball is assembled at the tip of a thin metal pipe. Therefore, even if you penetrate an object with a pen or drop it from the pen tip onto the floor, the pen tip will be damaged. Of course, you shouldn’t be surprised if it gets deformed and the ink begins to leak out.

It is true that knowing how leaks occur is important. However, it’s only a part of the solution. Here are a few simple ways to combat leaks:


As a general rule, using the correct position to store your pens goes a long way in preventing unexpected leaks. Keeping that in mind, it is recommended to keep them stored horizontally at home or in a vertical position in a nib-up manner if in a pocket. Keeping a pen nib-down is asking for trouble. If you’re carrying them around, it is advisable to keep them horizontally in a case.


To avoid unexpected leaks, it’s also important that your pens are stored correctly. It is best to keep it in a cool space at home that avoids heat and high temperatures since heat can cause the air inside a pen to expand and force ink out. Pens should be capped and retracted as well. When stored safely, you shouldn’t have any issues unless the problem is with the pen itself.


As you can see, there are some conditions that are beyond our control. Besides them, it is important to see that you do your own part to maintain pens. Excessive shaking and drops can damage the pen and you may not be aware of the same until it leaks. Similarly, the nib also needs careful attention.

So treat your pens with care and take one step towards a better writing experience.



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