Performing periodic maintenance on your sewing machine is important. A well-maintained machine will likely run
better and prevent annoying, time consuming, and costly problems later.
Since there are so many sewing machine models out there, this is meant to be an overview of the basics. Consult
your manual for the specific maintenance needs of your machine.
Note: If you need the manual for your sewing machine, try visiting your manufacturer’s website. They often have
old manuals available for download or purchase.
Keep your sewing machine covered when it’s not in use
Or place it in its case or cabinet. This will keep the dust away and you’ll have less cleaning to do later. You
can get a plastic cover from a sewing store or you can make your own cover.
Clean your machine
Important: Before performing any type of maintenance on your sewing machine, unplug it first.
Lint from thread and fabric accumulate on the interior parts of your machine. Clean this lint out after every
project or after about eight hours of continuous sewing.
Unthread your machine and take out the bobbin. Remove the pressure foot and the needle, then…
Clean the surface of your machine
Dust the outside of your machine with a soft cloth. Use a damp cloth on any stains. Never spray any
liquid directly on your machine. Use a brush or cotton swab to clean out the thread guides and the
various nooks and crannies.
Clean between the tension disks
Raise your presser foot mechanism to loosen the tension springs. Clean between the tension disks
with a clean cloth. Or blow the lint out using a can of compressed air*.
Clean the bobbin area and under the needle plate
Remove the needle plate (also called the throat plate). Refer to your manual if you
don’t know how to remove it – some snap out and others have to be unscrewed. Open the slide plate
to expose the bobbin area. Clean out any lint with a small brush, cleaning the bobbin area and around
and under the feed dogs. Or use a can of compressed air* or vacuum the lint out. Use a pair of
tweezers to pick out any stubborn lint. Remove your bobbin case (consult your manual) and clean
away any lint.
Inspect your needle plate
Before putting your needle plate back, check it for nicks or burrs. Smooth out any you find with an
Oil your machine periodically, if your machine requires it
Oiling lubricates the moving parts of your machine and helps prevent rust. Some machines need to be oiled,
some do not. Consult your manual to see if your particular machine needs to be oiled and if so, which parts
Oil your machine every few months or as instructed by your manual.
Tips for oiling your machine
- Use just a small amount of oil, one drop on each part.
- Use only sewing machine oil.
- After oiling your machine, sew some scraps of fabric to catch any excess oil before starting your
Get your machine professionally serviced
Get your machine serviced (the tension balanced and the machine thoroughly cleaned and oiled) about
every two years or as instructed by your manual.
Tips for preventing sewing machine problems
- Use a new, sharp needle for every project or change your needle after eight hours of continuous
- Don’t over wind your bobbin with too much thread.
- Use a good quality, brand name thread.
- Use the correct presser foot for your type of fabric.
- Don’t pull your fabric as you sew.
- Before you start to sew a seam, grasp the thread tails from the upper and bobbin threads. Hold them
back and out of the way for your first couple of stitches. This will keep the threads from getting
caught in your machine.
Some recommend against using compressed air to clean your sewing machine because you could end up blowing
lint into your machine instead of out of it. Or the cold air could cause condensation on the interior and promote
rust. If you choose to use canned air, hold the can at an angle and several inches away from your surface.
|Sewing Information, Advice, How-to
Basic Sewing Machine Maintenance