Tips for Cleaning Your Sewing Machine

Since your sewing machine is your best friend, why not take excellent care of it? There are several things you can do for your favorite companion to keep him healthy and happy. Here are a few easy steps to clean, maintain, and keep your sewing machine in tip top shape!

After every few uses, it’s a good idea to open up all the parts of the machine that are accessible (meaning you don’t need a screwdriver to open them) and get out all that thread and fuzz that tend to accumulate with use. They make these tiny little vacuum attachments that fit onto the end of your vacuum hose that can reach inside the little nooks of your sewing machine to suck all the gunk out. Such a great little invention!

For a deeper clean, break out your tools (your machine will often come with a special screwdriver) so you can carefully remove the more permanent panels to vacuum out the interior areas. Refer to your manual for specifics for your individual machine.

Most of the newer machines on the market today are self-oiling, but be sure to read your manual to make sure. Some machines have 3 to 5 points that need to be lubed with a drop of oil every few uses. If your machine came with a little tube of oil, chances are you need to oil that guy to keep him happy.

Once a year, I like to take my machine to a professional to have it cleaned. Cleanings can run anywhere from $80 to $150 depending on the machine. Yes, I know that is a pretty price to pay, but here is why it’s important: The lubricants they use in the larger joints of the machine dry out over time and lose their viscosity. Left without maintenance for years upon years, this stuff essentially turns to glue! Ick!

You will notice when you have left your machine too long without a professional cleaning. Symptoms include a stiff handwheel, changes in stitch length, skipped stitches, loose tension, and groaning noises. This is especially important if you live in a dry climate, as the lubricant dries out even faster! Be kind and keep your machine hydrated! (Did you know your thread can dry out too? Here are some tips on how to deal with that.)

Do a combination of these things for your buddy, and you will both have a long, happy relationship and MANY years of sewing to enjoy together! Happy sewing (and cleaning)!

Related Links:
Sewing Machine Maintenance Tips
How to Prepare a Sewing Machine
Choosing the Right Sewing Machine Needles Cleaning and Maintaining Your Sewing Machine

Get in touch! Leave a comment or email

1200x300 PDF Download
  • (will not be published)

17 Responses to “Tips for Cleaning Your Sewing Machine”
  1. Felisa Cino

    E ‘davvero blog informativo! Mi è piaciuto molto il modo di claen qui circa la macchina da cucire. Grazie per saharing questo blog informativo con noi.

  2. Sue Clement

    I buy the fuzzy sticks (a/k/a pipe cleaners) to get out fuzz I cannot see. They work well, are bendable and reach into spots I cannot see.

    • Linda

      Elizabeth, that was an unexpected & unusually unkind comment from someone who sews. To a novice this could be very helpful. I’ve been sewing for over 60 years, but I was not taught anything about taking care of my machine. It was something I had to learn from more experienced sewers.

      • Fern

        First time I’ve clicked on one of these sites and there was Elizabeth’s rude comment. I’ve sewn forever as well, but the newer machines are tricky. I always wonder if we should oil them. And thank you for your suggestions,

    • Helga

      That Elizabeth sounds like a real winner. If she’s been sewing for 50 plus years she has got to be in her 60s or older. The stupidity of some people just amaze me sometimes. I think most of us need reminders of our machines as to how to care for them,and your right the newer machines are tricky. She is probably just a troll, looking to amuse herself, or that bad apple in the box, wanting to spoil all the apples. If we are lucky she will stick her head in the soil, and keep it THERE!

  3. M ball

    Please could you put subtitles on your videos to help hearing impaired people like me. Many hard of hearing and deaf people are very keen sewers and would subscribe to your circle if they follow your info’.

    • Customer Service

      Thank you for your feedback. We apologize for any inconvenience and have forwarded this suggestion on to the proper department.

    • maria

      subtitles on your videos to help hearing impaired people like me.please

      • Customer Service

        Dear Maria,

        Thank you for contacting us.

        I appreciate your feedback and it has been forwarded to the proper department. Your comments are important to us and help with the development of our online video streaming community. We will continue to listen and work hard for your complete satisfaction.


        National Sewing Circle Video Membership

  4. Molly

    I am rediscovering the delight in sewing after a number of years of not sewing. My new machine has good instructions but watching this was very helpful and I thank you, Aurora (Hope I spelled your lovely name correctly.)