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Easy Guide to Cleaning and Maintaining your Sewing Machine

Posted by Kara Ballinger on

Easy Guide to Cleaning and Maintaining your Sewing Machine

Cleaning and Maintaining your Sewing Machine 

A sewing machine collects a surprising amount of dust and tiny fuzzies that rub off the fabric as you sew. Taking good care of your sewing machine is important to keep it running properly. A properly running machine means less headaches and issues for you while you are sewing. Here are some basics to cleaning and maintaining your machine.

When to Clean:

Cleaning your machine once a month is a good rule of thumb. You may need to clean a bit more often if you sew a lot or could wait a bit longer if you sew less. I also recommend cleaning your machine if it was been sitting in storage for a while between sewing sessions.

One small piece of thread or lint can cause issues with stitches. A lack of oil will make the machine louder and feel clunky. If you begin to experience any problems with your machine, the first thing to try, after rethreading your machine and replacing the bobbin, should be to clean your machine.

Please note that cleaning your sewing machine does not replace having your machine serviced. I recommend a yearly service from a professional sewing machine technician. For more about servicing your sewing machine, check out this post

What you Need to Clean your Sewing Machine:

You need just a few basic tools to clean your machine.

You’ll need

  • a small screwdriver,
  • a small brush (art paintbrushes work well)
  • tweezers
  • sewing machine oil and cloth or paper towel   *Use only sewing machine oil
  • vacuum cleaner
  • headlamp or flashlight (optional)

*Although you may see some people recommending using forced or compressed air, never do it. I would caution you to avoid it. There are tight places you cannot see and oil at every moving joint. Blowing dust into these spots can make the problem worse. We want to lift out as much dust as possible. 

Cleaning Your Machine: 

1. Clean under the needle plate

  • Remove the needle plate using the screwdriver.
  • Remove the bobbin and bobbin case, taking note of how they go together. It may be helpful to take pictures before removing any parts.
  • Use the brush and vacuum to collect any dust and dirt that has gathered.
  • Pull out any broken threads using the tweezers.
  • Turn the hand wheel towards you slowly to inspect other areas. You will notice some parts are easier to see and clean depending on the position of the hand wheel.   
2. Oil Your Machine

Every machine is different with oiling and some machines don’t actually need oiled. Before you oil anything, consult your owner’s manual to see if your machine should be oiled. If your machine requires oiling, the manual will show you where to oil it. You can purchase sewing machine oil on Amazon or at your local sewing or crafting supply store.

 If your machine requires oil, follow the instructions in your owner’s manual to do that now. Replace the bobbin case, bobbin, and needle plate. Screw the needle plate back into place.

3. Check Foot Petal and Power Cords

Check the condition of power cord and foot pedal cords on your machine. This is especially important if your machine was purchased second hand or has been in storage for a while.

Also, if you have small children or pets, they could damage these cords without you knowing. Inspect the cords to make sure the wires haven’t been exposed as this could pose a risk of electrical shock or fire.

Save Money

Cleaning your machine on a regular basis, before you encounter problems, means you can go longer between servicing and avoid repairs due to dirty parts. An added bonus is that you become more knowledgeable on how your machine works.


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