How to Make Ballpoint Pens Stop Skipping

By Amie Taylor

Updated September 26, 2017

Ballpoint pens occasionally malfunction.
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While writing instruments have come a long way since our forefathers used a quill pen and a bottle of ink to convey their messages to one another on parchment, our current options are still not foolproof. The ballpoint pen, for instance, may dry out, skip or eventually run out of ink. When you're stuck with a pen that only writes in fits and starts, it's often possible to restore it to working order again.

Dip the tip of your pen in rubbing alcohol to dissolve any dried ink that may prevent the ball from moving freely.

Place the tip of your pen into the flame of a match or lighter for a few seconds to free up the ball and get it rolling smoothly again. Repeat as necessary, but avoid leaving the point in the flame too long, as your pen may melt.

Strike the tip of your pen against a hard surface several times to dislodge a stuck roller ball.

Scribble on a rough piece of paper or cardboard to provide resistance to the roller ball and help it to move freely again.

Items you will need

  • Rubbing alcohol

  • Match

  • Lighter

  • Rough paper

  • Cardboard


Check your pen's ink cartridge to make sure that it is not empty before trying repair methods.