Cleaning Your Sewing Machine


Every machine is different…and yet, every machine is the same. They all need to be cleaned from time to time. How often depends on how much you use your machine. I use mine a lot. I sew, or piece or quilt or repair something just about every day. So, my machine needs to be cleaned about once a month. Truthfully? I should probably do it more often than that… But, hey, whatcha gonna do?

If you don’t use yours that often, then maybe once a quarter is enough.

Regardless of how often, the truth remains, your machine MUST be cleaned.

So, how to do it?

My first piece of advice would be to read your manual. This is the very best resource you have…if you still have it. Not everyone is Obsessively Compulsive as I am. I still have the owner’s manual to the Light Bright I received from Santa in 1972. But, if you’re not me, and no longer have your sewing machine manual, you can still clean your machine.

Here’s how:IMG_9068

  • Gather up the tools you’ll need.
    1. Most machines come with a lint brush. If you don’t have one, an old make-up brush will do.
    2. A soft cloth
    3. Machine oil
    4. Tweezers for the stubborn hunks of lint that must be coerced out of the machine




  • Using a screwdriver or a coin unscrew the screws on your stitch plate. IMG_9070


  • Remove the stitch plate and the bobbin housing. IMG_9071


  • Use your lint brush to remove all the lint you can. Use the tweezers if necessary. IMG_9073
  • DO NOT USE CANNED AIR! Those things are great for cleaning the keyboard of your PC but each time you push the nozzle a teeny-tiny bead of moisture escapes. On your keyboard, which is open to the air, that’s not a huge problem. HOWEVER, in the closed, dark innards of your sewing machine, a small amount of condensation is a very bad thing. Bacteria, mold, mildew—all these things grow rampant in places like that. You do now want that happening to your baby. NO CANNED AIR!


  • Be Very Careful when groping around in the dark places of your machine. Here you will find broken needle tops, metal filings and sometimes bent and broken straight pins. So be careful!


  • Once you have cleaned up the lint in your machine. Place the bobbin housing back in its original position and replace the stitch plate and screw it down.


  • Now it’s time to oil the machinery. Here’s where your sewing machine manual will really come in handy. (If you don’t have one, try looking for one online. Most come in PDF files now and can be downloaded easily.) Follow the instructions in your manual and very stingily squeeze a few drops of oil into & onto the moving parts of your machine.

IMG_9075If you don’t have a manual to tell you exactly where to spray the oil (SEWING MACHINE OIL IS BEST but, WD40 will work) you can still complete this task. MY machine will not open as some do. I have a very small space to work with. So, I put my machine on the table on its back with a towel or cloth underneath. Using a flashlight to help guide me, I put the nozzle of the sewing machine oil can in the small opening and squeeze very gently aiming the spray toward the moving parts. DO NOT GO CRAZY!

Your machine does not need a gallon of oil. Just a drop or two.

Set your machine back up and run it, without thread or cloth for just a couple of seconds, to splash that oil around. THEN, don’t run it again for a few hours or even days (better). Let that oil lubricate the machine and drip out all it needs to. Use your soft cloth to clean up the excess.

Put everything back the way you found it and…You’re done. Not that hard huh?

About angieabk

"I'd like to think of myself as a blended mix of Southern charm and humor. What I really am is a hot mess of sin and sass. Jesus loves me either way."

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