Guest Post: 13 Basic Sewing Machine Maintenance Tips

A special treat today! The lovely Annabelle, who blogs over at Wunderlabel, has written a fantastic post about maintaining your sewing machine. I’m seriously the worst when it comes to sewing machine maintenance (in that I don’t do any) so I was super excited to learn some tips. This post is an excellent starting point for anyone who – like me – doesn’t have the first idea when it comes to maintaining their precious machine.


Have you ever noticed that when if you don’t get a regular oil change on your car it seems to run differently?

You might not pay as much attention to it as I do…

But, I have noticed that right after I get my oil changed, it seems like my car is brand new again. It is almost like I have just given it a bath or fed it a good meal.

Well, your sewing machine is the same way…

As a seamstress or even just the part-time sewer, your sewing machine gets used quite often. It makes pillow cases, dresses, blankets, and various other crafts you design. So, it is important to keep your machine well-oiled and clean to ensure maximum efficiency. A dirty machine can lead to issues with your craft and also issues with the machine – which can be time-consuming and costly.

In addition, a dirty and not properly maintained sewing machine can lead to issues with sewing safety – you might poke yourself with a bad needle or something of the like. However, by practicing some proper maintenance steps, you will be on your way to a clean machine:

1. Read your owner’s manual

The first thing you should do when you get your sewing machine is read your manual…

But, you should keep this on hand so that you can also pull it back out when you go to clean or service the machine.

It might note the best ways to clean your specific machine or anything you need to know to avoid.

2. Always start by turning the machine off

Once you have reviewed your manual and are prepared to get the cleaning process started, turn your machine off.

This will help avoid any mishaps or injury during the cleaning.

During this time, you should also remove the extension table (if necessary) and take out your bobbin.

3. Use different brushes for different tasks

Just like one-size-fits-all doesn’t work in clothing, one-brush-fits-all doesn’t apply to cleaning your sewing machine…

Different parts of the machine need the attention of different brushes.

Tip: Use a stiff brush for removing lint and fuzz, such as around the feed dogs. Use a soft brush for picking up the stray pieces.

4. Oil your machine

Nothing works better than a well-oiled machine…

There are a lot of moving parts in a sewing machine that need to be lubricated to keep them running smoother and longer.

Invest in a good quality sewing machine oil – typically it will be clear and very fine.

5. Double check your oiling job

Once you have completed the oiling of your machine, it is time to ensure you have done the job correctly…

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, a little oil might still be lingering inside. So, simply sew a bit on a piece of scrap fabric to make sure everything is working smoothly and no excess oil is dripping down.

6. Avoid using canned air

The debate on whether or not to use canned air on your sewing machine continues…

But, I say don’t.

Using the canned air can add moisture to the sewing machine and only create more clumps of lint, which in turn, can clog up the machine.

Instead, use the various brush types I discussed in tip No. 3.

7. Clean the inside thoroughly

Do you remember when your mom asked you to clean your room as a child and you would just throw everything in the closet?

Well, throw that mentality out the door when it comes to cleaning your sewing machine.

It is important that you carefully address each and every part – from the feed dogs to the bobbin area to the needle plate.

8. Inspect the needle plate

Sometimes, the needle plate can get some nicks or burrs – this needs to be smoothed out. So, before you put your needle plate back, check it and smooth out any nicks or burrs you find with an emery cloth.

9. Clean the outside, too

While the inside of your machine is important, the outside deserves just as much attention. Start by cleaning the outside of the machine and work your way inside to avoid knocking any more dirt or grime into the machine.

10. Use high-quality needle and thread

Of course, half of the proper maintenance of your sewing machine is cleaning it properly.

But, the other half starts with using quality thread and needles to avoid any issues.

The low-quality thread is linty; therefore, it can get caught up in the machine and cause it to get dirty. Even some waxed and glazed thread can be bad for your machine.

Visit a sewing shop near you – they will know the best type of thread for your machine.

11. Use your cover 

One of the easiest ways to maintain your machine is to keep it covered when not in use. This will help avoid damage to the outside and help keep dust and other particles off.

12. Regularly change needles 

After hours of sewing, needles can become dull and might even become damaged. This can negatively affect your project and even damage your sewing machine.

Always ensure that all your equipment is in tip-top shape!

13. Ask a professional

In the end, it is all about who you know…

And, occasionally, you should know of a good, quality professional who can clean your sewing machine for you about once per year.

Typically, there is a tech who specializes in the cleaning of your specific machine.


While it might take some work on cleaning day, a properly maintained sewing machine works much better. Therefore, helping you create several high-quality, crafty pieces for years to come!

How often do you clean your sewing machine? Let us know in the comments!


About the author: Annabelle Short is a writer and a seamstress of more than 5 years. She loves making crafts with her two children, Leo (age 9) and Michelle (age 11). Annabelle likes to write about business, crafting and sewing, and parenting. She splits her time between London and Los Angeles and writes for Wunderlabel. You can visit her blog to learn more about her and her handmade creations.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s