How To Clean Your Sewing Machine With Simple Steps

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Giving the bobbin case a quick dust is the first thing to do when cleaning a sewing machine. Even a small brush is typically included with sewing machines.

How To Clean A Sewing Machine

Before you begin, unplug and turn off your computer and unthread it.

Sewing Machine Cleaning Supplies

Get your tools ready; they don’t need to be expensive, and many come with your machine already. I suggest the following cleaning supplies. (These are a variety of options; you don’t need all of them.)

  • a hand-held brush – make sure the bristles aren’t loose to that you don’t risk adding more unnecessary lint/debris to your machine
  • small brushes – these are usually included with your machine
  • screwdrivers – also included with your machine for removing needle plate
  • pipe-cleaner + straw is great for gathering lint and dust
  • flat head screwdriver
  • optional – magnetic screwdriver

Cleaning A Sewing Machine


First, unplug your computer. Remove the throat plate from your sewing machine, which is where the majority of the dust and fabric fibers tend to collect, to prepare it for cleaning. For instructions on how to remove the throat plate from your sewing machine, consult the manual. While some machines have a screwdriver included to unscrew the plate, others simply slide off.


To remove all the dust and reach all the cracks and crevices, use a nylon brush. (Avoid using compressed canned air to blast inside your machine as this will only push debris deeper.) If you have a bobbin case, remove it and give it a thorough cleaning. Additionally, be sure to enter and pass through the spaces between the feed dogs. Dust can be removed using a nylon brush or the tip of a screwdriver.


It’s time to oil your machine after cleaning the lower portion of it. In order to keep machine parts from rubbing against one another and eventually wearing out, sewing machine oil is a specially formulated lubricant. Use one hand to rotate the hand wheel back and forth to apply the oil. Look to see where the moving parts are touching and friction is being produced; this is the area that needs to be oiled. Make sure you only use sewing machine oil when applying a tiny bit to these moving parts. You might get a little oil container with your machine. After applying the oil, rotate the wheel several times to help the oil absorb.


To remove any additional oil from the machine’s body, take a piece of fabric (muslin works well). The next project you are working on shouldn’t have any oil on it. The throat plate should then be installed back on, and your sewing machine is now ready for use. You might want to take a dust cloth and clean the entire machine’s body, making sure to brush along the thread path.

Reconnect your sewing machine, then sew a few test seams on a scrap of fabric before beginning your next project.

For An Extra Clean – Every Few Months I Do This:

On some machines, you can take off the free arm’s exterior cover.

If this piece is removed you can also use canned air to to blow dust out of the machine as long as the can is held straight and not at an angle. The likelihood of blowing lint and thread further into the machine is the main justification for not using canned air. With the outside cover removed you can blow the air (and the dust/link) away from the machine, not deeper inside.

I learned this trick from the From the Workbench with Doug video series. If you own a Baby Lock machine, Doug has over 25 instructional and troubleshooting videos that will teach you TONS about it!

Oil The Machine

For details on how to oil your machine, consult your owner’s manual. It may require oil more frequently than you realize if you have an older mechanical device. Use only high-quality oil that has been approved by your manufacturer.

However, you must visit a certified dealer for routine maintenance once a year for your computerized machine. Any components of the machine that require lubrication will also be done so by the dealer.

What Rate Of Cleaning Is Sufficient For Your Machine?

De-lint your device every two to three bobbins. Since flannel, Minky, and fleece are more lint-prone, clean them right away after sewing with them.

An annual service and maintenance visit is required for your machine. If you detest being without your machine, plan the annual maintenance for the same time that you’re leaving town!

Although at first it may seem like a hassle, doing so will improve your sewing machine’s functionality and lengthen its lifespan while also saving you a lot of hassle.

Other Machine Maintenance Tips:


When I clean out my machine (usually after 2-3 bobbins), I try to remember to change the needle frequently. This should be the first step in troubleshooting your machine if it is skipping stitches or breaking threads, for example.

Buy your needles in bulk, like this 100-pack, if you want to save money by using a needle for longer. Knowing that these needles were inexpensive makes me much more generous with my needle-changing.

Doug has another helpful video about the sewing machine needles and how they work with a machine.

Thread Tips

In order to regulate the thread’s amount of pressure and feed it evenly through the machine, many modern machines have tension disks that run through the machine. Because these disks are so delicate, it’s crucial to avoid pulling your thread through the machine backwards.

Cut the thread close to the spool when you need to change it, and then pull it through the machine so that it exits in the same direction as all stitching.

Thread Storage

I am aware of how lovely thread spools appear on those decorative stands. We are however aware of how filthy a sewing room can become. And if you put that dusty thread through your machine, you’ll fill the inside of your machine with even more dirt and dust, especially around those delicate tension disks.

Before threading the machine, unwind and discard the outer layer of thread if your spool is dusty.

What Is The Best Way To Clean A Sewing Machine’s Exterior?

We frequently neglect to clean the outside of the sewing machine and only concentrate on the inside. If you keep your sewing machine out in the open, dust and lint will collect and need to be cleaned off. Any cloth will work, though I prefer to clean my machine with a microfiber cloth. To remove all the dust and lint, give the machine a thorough cleaning from top to bottom.

On your machine, avoid using any cleaning products because the harsh chemicals could harm the plastic and metal. Use dish soap and a damp cloth to clean up stains if you need to. Remember to unplug your machine before cleaning it, and take care to only clean the exterior of the machine with the damp cloth, keeping it away from any of the mechanical parts.

Cover your sewing machine when it’s not in use to help prevent the accumulation of lint and dust. It is possible to buy or make your own sewing machine cover. I adore Singer’s hardshell sewing machine cover. Check out this tutorial if you want to make your own cover.

What’s The Best Way To Clean A Sewing Machine Foot Pedal?

The sewing machine’s foot pedal, which is frequently disregarded, also requires routine cleaning! Several factors, including whether or not you wear shoes when you sew and how you store the foot pedal when it’s not in use, will determine how frequently you should clean your foot pedal.

Use a cloth to remove any dust from the foot pedal. Use a damp rag and, if necessary, a small amount of dish soap to remove any dirt or grime that won’t wash off with a dry rag.

When cleaning your foot pedal, don’t forget to unplug it first and be careful to keep the cord dry. Avoid using any abrasive cleaning agents on the foot pedal because they could harm the pedal.

Should My Sewing Machine Be Oiled?

You can find out if your sewing machine needs to be oiled by consulting the manual. Only lubricate your sewing machine if the maker advises it. Your machine most likely came with a bottle of oil if it requires lubrication. Try looking it up online if you can’t find your sewing machine’s user manual. The majority of manuals can be found online at the manufacturer.

How Frequently Do I Need To Oil My Sewing Machine?

Your sewing machine’s use frequency will determine how frequently you need to oil it. You will need to oil your sewing machine once or twice a week if you sew every day. If you only sew on the weekends, you might only need to oil your machine once or twice a month.

To learn how often they advise you to oil your sewing machine and where to place the oil, consult the user manual for your particular model. It’s crucial to read the user manual before oiling your sewing machine because some models do not need it.

In case you overoil your machine, your fabric may end up with oil stains. If you think you may have overoiled your machine, blot the extra oil with a rag and continue sewing with scrap material until you are certain the machine is no longer transferring oil to your fabric.

Although cleaning is a necessary part of keeping your sewing machine in good condition and extending its lifespan, we all would prefer to spend more time sewing rather than cleaning. It will last longer if you clean it more frequently. Your sewing machine can now be cleaned with confidence thanks to this tutorial.

Do you require a new project now that your machine has been cleaned? See my Charming Sawtooth quilt pattern, which is free. The fun, quick-to-assemble star-shaped quilt is made using the free quilt pattern and one charm pack and one yard of fabric.

FAQs about Sewing Machine

Before beginning routine maintenance or cleaning your sewing machine, we discussed the supplies you’ll need. Let’s answer some of the queries you might have.

Can I Use A Vacuum On My Sewing Machine?

It is true that you can vacuum up the dust from your sewing machine. Some vacuum cleaners have miniature or micro attachments that are ideal for cleaning small areas like a computer keyboard.

Is My Sewing Machine Cleanable With Soap And Water?

Unfortunately, you shouldn’t clean your sewing machine with water inside of it or on top of it. Controlling the water is challenging, and any drips could cause rust and other issues with your machine. However, you can clean your sewing machine’s exterior and removable parts with a very slightly damp paper towel or cloth.

Before reassembling your machine, you’ll want to make sure that every component is completely dry.

How Frequently Should I Maintain Or Clean My Sewing Machine On A Regular Basis?

Your usage of your sewing machine and the type of sewing you’re doing will determine the answer to that question. Once more, if you want to plan your routine maintenance, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

If you regularly sew, I’d advise you to clean your sewing machine once a month. If you only sew occasionally, you can just clean your machine before each use.

What Kind Of Oil Ought To I Use For My Sewing Machine?

Always consult your sewing machine’s instruction manual and adhere to the advice of the maker. Having said that, they produce oil specifically for sewing machines. Below are a few products that I have used:

  • Singer All Purpose Machine Oil
  • Zoom-Spout Sewing Machine Oil
  • 3-In-One Multi-Purpose Oil

Have you ever been stuck in the following problems with sewing machines? Read & Learn more together!