How To Clean And Oil A Sewing Machine At Home?

How often do you use your sewing machine? And how often do you clean it?

Unfortunately, a lot of people do not take the time to clean and oil their sewing machine. Some go for close to five months without cleaning their sewing equipment. But this is not recommended.

How frequent you have to clean and oil your machine will depend on how much you use it and the type of fabric that you sew. Fabrics that shed a lot like velvet will require you to clean your machine more regularly. You should do the same if you use the machine too often. But for a light to moderate use, you may clean the machine once after a few months. As long as you notice some clinging and squeaking and you see some build up on your machine, you should know that it is calling on you for some cleaning.

So, if you are ready to clean/oil your machine, here is how to go about it:

Tips For Oiling and Cleaning A Sewing Machine 

Step 1: Unplug the Machine 

Before you can start cleaning the sewing machine, you will need to plug it out of the socket. But keep in mind that the cleaning doesn’t exactly involve using water and soap. Rather, it is getting rid of the fabric buildup on specific areas. However, you still need to unplug the machine to avoid any electrical shock.

Step 2: Remove the Throat Plate

Once you disconnect the machine from the power, you will need to remove the throat plate. This is where most of the fabric, dust, and debris tend to accumulate. Usually, the user manual of the sewing machine will come with instructions on how to remove the throat plate. Some machines will come with a screwdriver to help you unscrew the plate. But some will only need you to slide it off.

Step 3: Remove the Dust

At this point, you’ll need to remove the dust using a nylon brush. The brush will help you gather the dust that is trapped between the crannies and nooks. However, you should avoid using compressed canned air and blast inside the machine. These tools will push the debris further inside the machine. In case you have a bobbin case, ensure that you take it out and clean it thoroughly. Don’t forget to clean inside and in-between the feed dogs as you get rid of the dust.

You can then use the end of a screwdriver to push out the dust from the feed dogs. Alternatively, you can still use the nylon brush to push out the dirt.

Step 4: Oil the Machine

After you have cleaned the lower part appropriately, you can now proceed to oil your machine. Never oil the machine if it is still dusty. Doing this will only make things worse because the oil will accumulate the dust inside the machine as well.

Plus, you should always ensure that you use the proper sewing machine oil when doing this. Sewing machine oil is a formulated lubricant that helps to keep the machine parts smooth and prevent friction. With the oil, parts will move smoothly, which then prevents the unwanted wear and tear.

If you want to apply the sewing machine oil, always use one hand to turn the hand wheel back and forth and see where the moving parts touch. Where they touch is where friction occurs, and that is where you need to apply the oil.

You can use an oil container to apply some oil to the moving parts. Ensure that you crank the wheel back and forth several times to allow the oil to flow perfectly into the parts.

Step 5: Remove the Excess Oil

Once the wheels are well lubricated, you will need to wipe off the excess oil on your machine. Use a piece of fabric to absorb that extra oil after you have applied it on the wheels. Ideally, use muslin for better results. Removing the extra oil helps to prevent it from getting to your fabrics when you start sewing again.

Step 6: Install back the Throat Plate

Now that the machine is clean and well lubricated and that you have wiped off the excess oil, it should be time to install back the throat plate. Once you install back the throat plate, your machine will be ready to use again. But you can use a dust cloth to wipe the whole machine and brush along the thread path.

After that, you may plug the machine back and get back to business. Before you start the major projects, you can use a fabric scrap to do some test seams.

Remember to cover the machine when you are not using to prevent the build-up of dust and debris. In most cases, your sewing machine will come with a cover that you can use. But you can still use your home-made cover to reduce the excessive dust and debris buildup.

Sewing Machine Safety Tips 

While sewing machine might seem simple and harmless, they can cause some serious injuries if you are not careful when handling them. Here are some safety tips to help you when working with a sewing machine:

  • Avoid distraction when working with the machine. Never work on the sewing machine when under the influence of alcohol or when you are extremely tired.
  • Put your fingers away from the needles. You can also buy a finger guard to protect you as you use the machine
  • Switch off the machine when not in use and when you are away for more than one minute
  • Conduct a professional service once every two years to prevent unforeseen breakdowns
  • Place the cords at the back of the machine to avoid tripping
  • Avoid sewing over pin to prevent breaking the needle
  • Avoid sewing thick or tough materials with the machine. This might damage the needles too.
  • Always wear shoes when sewing
  • Put the used needles in a sealable container and dispose of them safely
  • Ensure that you are working in a well-lit environment
  • Pull your hair back when sewing
  • As usual, unplug the machine from the socket after use


Always ensure that your sewing machine is clean and well-lubricated at all times. This will help to boost its durability and prevent unnecessary breakdowns. When the wheels are well-lubricated, they will not only run smoothly, but also be less likely to be damaged due to excess friction. If you live in a place that receives too much dust, you may have to clean your machine more often.

Just remember not to use soap and water when cleaning it. But a damp piece of cloth can be used to wipe around the machine just to keep it good looking. Don’t forget to observe safety when working with the machine.

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