How to Clean and Oil Your Sewing Machine

By Elya Lam
Clean and oil your sewing machine on a regular basis.

Cleaning your sewing machine to remove lint, dust, and thread, and oiling the inner mechanics of your machine will help keep it running smoothly.

Read the manual that came with your sewing machine. It instructs you how to open, clean and maintain your machine. If you do not have a paper copy of the manual, you may be able to find a copy online on the machine brand’s website. Search by the model number.

Turn off your sewing machine, and unplug it. Remove all the pieces of your machine that will get in the way of cleaning, such as the:

  • Needle
  • Presser foot
  • Needle plate
  • Bobbin and bobbin case/hook
  • Stitch plate

Every sewing machine is different, so the removal process differs from one machine to another.

Use the tweezers, brush or Q-tips to remove as much lint, dust and thread as you can from the feed dogs and the inside of your machine. Turn your sewing machine upside-down, and remove any visible lint or dust from that area. Your sewing machine manual will tell you which specific areas of the machine need to be cleaned and dusted.

If you can open the side housing of your machine, do so and remove any visible lint, dust and thread. If your machine does not have a removable side housing, gently run a piece of lint-free cloth along the inside track -- where the top thread runs down to the needle. This helps remove any lint and dust caught in the tension discs.

Refer to your sewing machine manual to learn where to put the oil. Some newer machines require no oiling at all, so it is important to read your manual carefully. Each sewing machine has different needs, but a drop of oil is commonly placed in or around the bobbin case/hook.

Replace all of the sewing machine parts in the order that you took them out. Use the soft lint-free cloth to gently wipe down the outside of your sewing machine to remove dust and fingerprints.

Plug in your sewing machine and turn it on.Sew a few stitches on a piece of scrap fabric to remove any excess oil.

Things Needed

  • * Machine owner's manual
  • * Sewing machine oil
  • * Q-tips
  • * Tweezers
  • * Small stiff-bristled brush
  • * Soft lint-free cloth

Tip

  • The frequency with which you clean and oil your sewing machine depends upon how often you use it. A good rule to follow is to clean your machine after every 10 hours of use, or whenever you experience trouble with your machine.

  • Regular cleaning and oiling of your machine is no replacement for professional maintenance. If you sew on a regular basis, take your machine to a repair shop every year or two. Have the professionals check and adjust the tension, settings, and repair or replace any worn parts.

Warning

  • Use only sewing-machine-specific oil to oil your machine. If your machine did not come with a small bottle of sewing machine oil, you can purchase it at your local sewing store or sewing machine repair shop.

  • Do not use compressed air to blow lint out of your sewing machine, as it can cause pieces of lint to become even more entwined in the mechanics of the machine.

  • Do not blow into your sewing machine, as your breath contains moisture that can cause rusting.

About the Author

Elya Lam is a professional writer and certified home economics teacher, who loves all things crafty! Based in Saskatchewan, Canada, she has developed curricula for the Saskatchewan 4-H Council.