Maintaining Your Sewing Machine

A sewing machine is a practical tool to own and like other tools, requires proper maintenance to keep in top performance. Even if used just occasionally, buildup of lint and thread can gunk up the machine causing wear. Luckily, maintaining a sewing machine is easy and when done regularly can keep it usable for years. Ideally, machines should be cleaned and lubricated after each use, but especially after large projects.
Maintaining Your Sewing Machine

Necessary Tools

The most important tool needed to clean out a sewing machine is its manual. Different models require different approaches to maintenance. Some are designed to be free of oil. Some have screws that need to be removed while others do not. Always read through the manual before cleaning to keep from doing more harm than good. If the manual has been lost, don’t despair. Search online for the particular make and model or call a local sewing machine center to obtain a copy. Other tools needed include screwdrivers, tweezers and a lint brush. A can of compressed air makes blowing out dust and thread a breeze. Sewing machine oil is also necessary. This is a special oil designed for sewing machines. Don’t just grab oil out of the garage as this will damage the machine.

Tips Before Beginning

Once the manual has been read, there are a few steps to take to ensure the cleaning goes smoothly. Most importantly, unplug the machine. This protects the machine and the user from damage and injury. Next, remove the presser foot and the needle. Last, do not let pride become a factor. Don’t take anything apart that can’t be put back together. Sometimes it is best to leave maintenance to professionals.

Clean Out the Machine

Begin by taking off the throat plate. This is usually held by a couple of screws, so it just takes a few twists to be able to pop it off. Once the plate is removed, take out the bobbin. Now it is time to remove lint and bits of thread that have made their way under the plate. Use a lint brush or compressed air to gently remove these bits. Most machines come with a cleaning brush, but if this is not available, a painter’s or makeup brush can be substituted. Use tweezers to carefully remove stubborn pieces of thread. While open, take out the shuttle assembly and clean out that area. Next, using the can of compressed air, blow from the back to the front to remove remaining debris from around the tension disks. Do not breathe into the machine as this will introduce moisture that can cause corrosion.


Now that the sewing machine is free of dust and debris, it is time to lubricate parts. Oiling the machine prevents rust. This is important because rust will act like sand grains inside the machine and wear down parts. Again, read through the manual before beginning this process. Some machines are marked, for others the manual will state which parts need oiled. Remove the top and face cover plates. Next put a drop or two of oil on each designated spot. Don’t overlook the bottom of the machine. Most need oil on the shuttle hook. After the oil has been applied, gently turn the hand wheel to spread it throughout the parts. Have a rag handy to wipe up any messes.

lubricating your sewing machine

Inspect and Put It Back Together

Now that the sewing machine is clean and oiled, take a moment to inspect wires for signs of wear. Don’t forget to check over the foot peddle. Make sure all electrical prongs are secure. Then replace the throat plate and insert any screws that were taken out. Go over screws that weren’t removed to make sure they are tight. Wipe off the outside of the machine with a clean cloth and replace the needle and foot peddle. Lastly, take a piece of scrap material and run through a few rows to make sure all excess oil is removed.

Keeping the sewing machine covered and in a dry place will help to prevent excess buildup inside. With a little regular maintenance, it will stay running at optimal performance ensuring years of use. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to ("Sew Good Reviews - Best Sewing Machine Reviews 2018" (,, or