How To Clean A Sewing Machine- 5 Basic Steps Plus Tips

Ever wondered how to clean a sewing machine ? Is it probable you have ever come across such a thought? Yes we have wondered too because the quantity of fibers and dust that gather beneath that little covering is crazy! Thankfully, a sewing machine can be cleaned no matter the amount of dirt accumulated.

It’s really very important to get your sewing machine cleaned occasionally. It needs regular cleaning to keep moving as fast as you would want it. But several questions arise; how frequently are you to do it? How should it be done?  Can the sewing machine be opened up for cleaning? We would answer all these questions in a bit.

There are some very important things you have to consider before you start to clean your machine. This is because if it is done the wrong way, or you do not make use of the correct tools, you may end up doing more damage rather than any good.  It is a fact that the nicer one is to one’s sewing machine, the better it would behave. So, if your desire is having a sewing machine that is in an excellent shape, it is very important that it be cleaned frequently.

In this article, we will take you through the basic steps on how to clean a sewing machine. You will also get cleaning instructions and tips and tricks on how to keep a sewing machine in good working order. Furthermore, we would also get to let you know some of the things you are not to do to your sewing machine so that it can last for long.

Lastly, we will also let you know how to put back the machine together when you are through with cleaning.  Let’s settle down to work and be sure that your sewing machine is going to run without difficulty again!

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Materials Needed For Cleaning A Sewing Machine

Cleaning a sewing machine does not require many tools. It is however important you use the correct ones. Some of the tools you will need to clean your sewing machine are:-

  1. Soft clean cotton material
  2. A small brush
  3. Small screwdriver
  4. A mini-vacuum
  5. Sewing machine oil

Basic Steps On How To Clean A Sewing Machine

We will be considering the basic steps on how to clean a sewing machine and tips for keeping a sewing machine in good shape. Below are the basic steps:

Dismantle The Machine

First of all, disconnect your machine take out the casing of the bobbin, let down the race covering and get the hook removed. Also, the throat plate and presser foot are to be taken off.

You will also need to push out the needle and presser foot first, then loosen the machines’ presser foot device [adapter] in case your machine has one. Put all of these apart in a safe place where they will not be lost.

Next you pull the bobbin out. You will then need to loosen the throat plate and ensure that you keep the screws safe. This shouldn’t be a difficult process since we assume that you put a bobbin out every time you change the thread in your machine.

However, if you have not pulled out a bobbin holder before, do not worry because it is not a hard thing to do. You will just have to place your fingers in its interior side and pull it out. You can first take some pictures with your smartphone to enable you know the exact position so as to be able to replace it properly when you are through.

On another note, you do not have to let your sewing machine become very dirty before cleaning it. Try cleaning it not less than once monthly especially if you do serious sewing.

More so it is necessary to clean your sewing machine often if you often sew wool knits, towels or materials that are prone to fraying. This is because any time you are through with sewing, the piece of furniture round the machine gets filled with lint.

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Take Pictures And Keep Parts In A Tray

Like we said earlier, make sure you take a picture before removing any part that you have not done before. This is to help you recollect exactly the point where you would need to put back the part of the machine afterward. You will also do well to have a tray to keep every part of the machine that you dismantle.

We are sure you do not want to lose the case of the bobbin or little screws and the rest. This is because all of them are special parts which are specific to your sewing machine and you might not find the exact make in your local clothing/hardware store.

Brush Out Lints And Debris

The next thing is to brush out any built up lint inside the throat plate and case of the bobbin. Even though most sewing machines are accompanied with little plastic brush, any anti-static pipe or brush cleaner will do the work. They are usually found at office supply shop.

You will begin by brushing the lint and be sure not to push the lint inside in the process. The lint can always be found between the teeth of the machines’ feed dog.

To confirm you have no particle of fabric lint inside the sewing machine beneath the bobbin, you can take a further step. That step is to take a hairdryer that you have set on a warm temperature and apply it or look for an air compressor.

After you are through with the above process, take Q-tip, after cleaning the surface from the remaining dirt.  Put some drops of the machine oil and oil the machine’s metal parts gently on the inside at the location of the bobbin holder. This oiling will prevent the metal part from rusting.

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Oiling The Machine

Before oiling your sewing machine please confirm that your machine is not the self-lubricating model. Most modern and computerized machines do not require oiling. This can be confirmed by consulting your manual. You just need little drops of oil to keep your machine lubricated. Too much oil helps in attracting and collecting fresh dirt.

After cleaning this part of your sewing machine and ensured the removal of all linen fibers and dirt, apply a few drops of oil. This oil should be applied at the location below the bobbin region. After doing that you will need to run some scrap or cotton fabric through your machine. Ensure you do this until the cotton fabric comes out white and unstained with oil.

Please note that oil is not meant to be applied to every moving part of the sewing machine. A few drops are only applied in most machines within the middle location where you have the bobbin. Other machines can have additional parts where oiling will be necessary.

The transparent or super-thin sewing machine oil are highly recommended for use in oiling your sewing machine. Extreme care must be taken in using any other lubricant or sewing machine oil.

When you are through with oiling your sewing machine, ensure excess oil is wiped off the machine before reinserting the machine’s bobbin case. For the old sewing machine models, there are usually some spots at its top where few drops of the machine oil are applied. It’s the usual practice to try and stitch with a scrap piece to clean off any oil stain before actual sewing begins.

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Put The Sewing Machine Back Together

Having gone through the process of cleaning your machine parts, it’s time to reassemble them. Remember you took a snapshot of the setup before dismantling the sewing machine? You may now refer to that snapshot in reassembling the parts to avoid making mistakes.

In re-assembling your sewing machine, the first thing to do is putting back the hook on the machine. Next to be fixed are the bobbin casing with the throat plate. They should be carefully affixed in their proper places.

The next item that should be fixed is the machine needle and it is recommended that it should be a fresh needle. The sewing machine’s presser foot is the next part that needs to be reattached.  The bobbin needs to be replaced and the machine threaded. Once the above is completed, the sewing machine is set for sewing.

Before you commence sewing after re-assembling the machine back together, it’s important to give the machine another touch! You can make the machine look as good as new again by just wiping down through the entire surface. 

You could do this with your soft cloth immersed in neutral detergent solution.  Carefully wipe the exterior with the soaked clothe after squeezing it and do it again with the cloth dry. Your sewing machine should be looking quite new by now!

Leave The Complicated Machine Areas For The Professional

In cleaning your sewing machine, there are parts you should not venture to remove unless you are a professional in the field. The location around the motor and engine fall into this category. Such areas should be left for the professional to handle whenever the need arises.

Your machine manual can also be helpful in guiding you as to when you need to clean your sewing machine. It can also give you a hint as to when you may require the services of a professional to look at your machine. Where you are uncertain about your next line of action, it’s important you contact the repair center in your location.

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Things To Avoid While Cleaning Your Sewing Machine

There is need to handle the sewing machine with a lot of care because of the delicate nature of some of its parts. We want to consider three things that should be avoided while cleaning your machine.

Never Use An Air Blower To Clean Your Machine

It is really important not to make use of an air blower in cleaning your sewing machine. This is to avoid the air forcing dust and other forms of dirt into your sewing machine. You know the air pressure from the blower is likely to force the dirt down to the most remote part of the machine.

Another reason for not using the air blower is that the air from it comes with some moisture which is not good for the machine part which are mainly metallic.

Rather than an air blower, you can try either a handheld or standard vacuumer. These ones can gently suck out the dirt from your sewing machine without causing harm if they are set at their lowest sucking mode.

Avoid Excessive Use Of Oil

Using the right quantity of machine oil when you are through with cleaning is another issue to take note of. Oiling your machine might be necessary depending on the model but applying more than is required is counterproductive.

This is because such oil will attract dirt and all kind of cotton and fiber materials into remote parts of your sewing machine. We have noted earlier that some modern and computerized machines do not require any form of oiling.

Don’t Clean Your Machine While Plugged To Power Source

It is important to completely disconnect the machine’s electrical cable from the power source before cleaning your machine. It is risky and dangerous to open up any electrical device while plugged to a power source.

Such indiscretion could result in the needle injuring your finger if the machine is inadvertently turned on. It might lead to an electric shock or even electrocution so be mindful of your safety.

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You can help in keeping your sewing machine in good working condition by cleaning it regularly and we have provided you with tips on how to do that. Your sewing machine would also require regular maintenance that goes beyond cleaning. This has to be done by a repair person or a professional.  Your machine therefore needs to be cleaned as well as serviced from time to time to perform optimally.

With the discussion we have had on how to clean a sewing machine, there’s no doubt you would have no issues cleaning your sewing machine from time to time. If you have not cleaned your sewing machine since you started using it and if you’ve used it for a while, why not arrange to clean it right away? I’m sure you would love the outcome; Trust me!

To further provide more insight into the workings of a sewing machine, check out this previous post. It would be of help as you embark on cleaning your sewing machine.

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