sewing machine, couture, thimble

How to Clean a Sewing Machine

Sewing machine maintenance and how to Clean a Sewing Machine and kind of universal at the same time. The machinery of any sort needs to be looked after and taken care of. I’m sure most of us know this already. Machines can last you up to decades if you know how to take care of them and not overuse or misuse them. For this instance, we’re talking about Sewing Machines.

Sewing machines are something that we all have seen our grandma with or had them in our households at least once in our lifetime. In the earlier times, sewing machines were available in Manual versions. You don’t get to see sewing machines of those types anymore. Nowadays, we’ve got high tech sewing machines which don’t require a spinning wheel nor any extra effort. These machines are made to make your sewing process easier. Many factories in the 3rd world countries have become innovative and set up digital sewing machines.

Sewing machines are not only used in factories but many people even tend to get one for themselves as sometimes altering the sizes of a clothing item can cost a lot. In other cases, sewing is a hobby for many of the people out there. They do it out of love and some take it to another level and become professional designers. In other words, sewing machines can be either a luxury or a necessity for many people out there.

Hence, you must take care of your sewing machine. In this article, we would be discussing all of the key factors and steps on how you can clean out all the junks and keep your machine dust-free. This will not only make your sewing sessions a lot easier but also keeps you motivated!

So let us discuss how you can achieve a super clean and spotless result. We’re going to focus on the basic cleanings, oiling, and maintenance that you can do at home.

Step 1- Safety and precautions: So, whenever I’m working on a sewing machine the first thing I make sure of is that the power is off. You need to be taking the needles out but the power is off so that you aren’t wounded with the needles or receive an electric shock. Make sure to keep children away from the machine while you are cleaning it.

Another thing, you can do in this case to be a little extra cautious is to go through your sewing machine user manuals or guide to safety instruction. If you don’t happen to have the safety instructions then you can download a copy from the website of the company. However, if you are unable to find such information online then you can request one along with providing the name, model, and serial number. Alongside that, you can also talk to your local dealer regarding this.

Remember, cleaning a sewing machine doesn’t always have to be of the exterior. Cleaning out the interior is just as important in cleaning out the exterior. Ensuring that your machine is free of dust and other lint’s will make our sewing machine work a lot faster. This will also have you save a ton of money for repairing as cleaning it will reduce the chances of being damaged. See details type of sewing machine needles

How to clean a sewing machine
how to clean a sewing machine

Step-3 The Cleaning Procedure:

Get your machine unplugged and the needles removed. As you don’t want to get wounded by it. Right? Next up, you need to get your hands on that lint brushes and start dusting the tiny spots. It would be very wonderful if you could get your hands on one of those nylon lint brushes. But any makeup brush or a brush that can sweep off tiny particles of the surface works just as fine. For the most part, this is going to be dusting and later on, we can go for lubricating or oiling. Go through the surface of the machine, first and with your brush, and dust off all of the lint from there.

How to clean the Tension Disks?

If you find yourself having lint brushes then I do not recommend you use canned air and it can introduce CO2 into your machine. It can blast mud and moisture in your machine. So as you are getting off the surface lint, you need to work your way through. One of the first things that you need to know when coming to the surface and the lid of the machine is, that it is very difficult to see is our tension disks. These tension disks will often get a ball of fuzz inside and/or a bad of thread.

So here’s a simple and quick tip that talks about threading are that we always need to thread and unthread our machine with our presser foot in the up position. What this really does is it opens the squeeze of the tension disks themselves. Make sure to always unthread the machine the same you thread it. So when you cut from the disk, you need to pull the thread because it keeps all the lint moving out of the machine in certain spots.

However, you can go ahead and take a pipe cleaner or a disposal mascara brush (make sure it is cleaned thoroughly before using it to clean the disks); and go ahead and wiggle it inside the tension disks while the presser foot is up so the disks are open. You can get any lint or thread balls or whatever out of there. This is one of the reasons why many professional tailors or designers are not a fan of glazed threads. The glazed threads tend to build up inside.

Nevertheless, not all machines are the same. Some even have external tension assembly. The tension disk in some externally assembled tension disks may be rounder in shape. You can go ahead and take your pipe cleaner in threaded motion to clean out the built-up thread balls and lint. However, you want to be very careful while doing that as there is a little spring in the disk. This spring is called check sprint and that in there keeps the slack out of the thread. Do not bend or break that check spring.

How to clean Needle Bar Settings?

As you’re dusting your way down, you’re moving out all of the lint out. Another place that focuses on clearing the lint is right down on the needle bar system itself. With your, brush dust off the needles and threads. You want to make sure that you have cleaned all this out. Especially if you’ve done a lot of applique quilting. You can sometimes get a lot of glue built up on the back of that needle.

What you now want to do is just take off your presser foot and get a hold of a screwdriver. Proceed on taking the holder off the needle bar. One of the things about maintenance when we put these back on, and periodically we want to make sure that we keep that screw taut. Also take that needle out of the bar beforehand, to keep yourself safe. Read more: sewing machine maintenance

How to dust the inside of the Stich plate?

A lot of our machines nowadays that have these beveled screws that hold our stitch plates and it’s really hard to even get little screwdrivers, the wings, up inside of the needle bar to work. So here’s a simple trick that I would like to share with you. Ten cents can fix that problem for you almost every time! Sometimes, you may have to invest more than 25 cents for fixtures but in this case, all you need is just a coin of 10 cents!

Still, confused? Just drop a coin in those screws and you can use a coin to loosen those stubborn screws right up. These screws are known to be special screws. They are beveled and you do not want to lose them because you won’t be able to replace them at the hardware store. So as you take those screws off there and then get to a point where you can loosen them with your fingers. It can get a little cumbersome in there so just take it nice and slow.

Once, you are done getting the stitch plate off, you would want to go ahead and clean the inside as well. When doing this, please make sure to keep a track of the screws and keep them in a safer place as you don’t want to lose them. There’s a couple of other things you want to look when you take off the stitch plate. You may notice that there’s always going to be a ton of fuzz in between the feed dogs. So you need to clean the feed dogs out completely with your brush and dust out any lint’s or built up that has been lying there.

Speaking of maintenance, if you have ever had a situation where your stitches just start to seem to get shorter. In other cases, no matter if maybe you’re going to reverse well or your fabric is not feeding very well. If you get too much lint in those feed dogs in the fabric is just not going to feed correctly. Hence, keeping the gums of the feed teeth clean is vital.

How to clean the Bobbin case area?

Take out the drop in bobbin case out and check the inside of the case. You will be surprised to see the amount of lint and fizz your bobbin case has been holding onto. These can damage the life span of your machine and interrupt when sewing or feeding the fabric. Therefore, you want to clean that area out and be very gentle while doing that. A lot of you notice that you may have a wick that is oiled right inside of the circular area that lays below the bobbin case.

So in case if there’s a little wick that comes in your way when dusting that portion out, make sure that you are not losing that wick and clean it as evenly as possible. For some machines, it may look like a long rectangle, maybe an inch and a half long. You can pull it out and clean it, it can just go right back in but never lose it.

While keeping that in mind, you would want to move on to cleaning the back edge of the bobbin case and get the top edge of the case and get as much lint and fuzz off there possible. There’s couple of little pads in the bobbin cases and sometimes bobbin cases will also have a little bits of felt on them that helps them keep the thread. That is absolutely normal and that is not debris so you need to dust it off gently and leave it like it is else you damage your bobbin case.

Should I oil my machine?

As mentioned before, we always want to clean before we hop into oiling. Oiling is not a seldom process in terms of cleaning. No matter what a lot of people out there have to say about oiling your machine, there are always spots on the outside of some machines that need oiling such as the bobbin case area.

Of course, there are exceptions and you may even want to get your machine a full service at the local dealership or the handling of the brand of your machines.

Why is it important to clean your sewing machine?

So as we’ve discussed and got in-depth with how you can clean out your sewing machine. You would be surprised with the amount of fuzz, lint, and debris you will end up with on your cleaning station. So much that you can even make yourself a small sweater out of that already just from the bobbin cases.

When you don’t take care of your machine, it will build up dirt and debris over time. You may not think it is just as bad until you start getting interruption during your sewing sessions.

You may able to find that:

  • Your fabric is not feeding off the needles.
  • The needles may break every few often.
  • You may also start getting noises when turning on the machine
  • In case of a manual sewing machine, you pinning wheel may get stuck every now and then.
  • Not to mention the fact that a dirty sewing machine may get your fabric stained and dirty as well.
  • There are many Types of Sewing Machine Needles that are specifically used to get your fabric the perfect results but sometimes it may not work because of there might be an internal problem in the machine.

Cleaning out the interior as well the exterior will help you combat the problems mentioned above. It is not only a healthy habit to take care of your machine but it will also prolong the life span of your machine. You will be able to save a lot of money as you won’t need to get your machine fixed. A smooth running machine will not only help you with sewing but will also uplift your mood.


Cleaning your sewing machine is not a luxury but rather a necessity. In this article, we covered up all the important key factors on how you can clean off your sewing machine not only externally but also internally. Sewing machines, in my opinion, seem to be the most delicate to handle. Hence it is crucial for you to take care of it.

Not just sewing machines, I’m sure every machine out there needs to be looked after. When you learn to love your devices, it will respond to you with a better service.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *