How To Oil A Sewing Machine - Find Out Here!

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Last Updated on 14 January, 2021 by Shine

Are you loving quilting and sewing? That’s great! Sewing machines are fantastic things but like so many things, they are subject to a bit of wear and tear. 

So it’s best to give them some much appreciated TLC at times. Clean out the bobbin area and spend some time oiling them up. As good as new! 

There are hundreds of different models of sewing machine and while they all work in a very similar way, where they can need oiling is different. 

So how to oil a sewing machine? One drop of oil is all you need for each different part of your sewing machine. “Everything that moves” is a good place to start. Moving parts wear and benefit from oil but be sure to only use dedicated sewing machine oil. 

Before you start oiling your sewing machine, it is good practise to clean it. Removing all the dust and general dirt that inevitably builds up over time with use. So let’s look how to give your sewing machine a new lease of life!

How To Clean And Oil A Sewing Machine

To give you sewing machine the best care you should start by cleaning it up a little. 

So lets work through that first!

If you can, remove the needle plate (it might be worth reading the manual on how to do this, if you’re unsure). 

When you’ve done that you can remove the bobbin and rotary hook. This step is partically helpful as you can really get into the bobbin area. You will find this to be a little dirt magnet! 

Lint seems to be attracted to the bobbin area so if fluffy quilts are your thing, you may need to give your sewing machine a clean more often. 

A small brush will be ideal of collecting the bits of lint and any stray threads that have fallen in there. 

One cheeky little tip is that you can add a touch of oil to the end of your brush (only a single drop!). You should be able to reach those hard to remove bits this way. 

Another method some people have used is a vacuum cleaner with tiny attachments. It could be worth trying, though you may find it to be difficult to manovre and overall a bit cumbersome. The brush method really does seem to work well.

Whatever you do and however good the idea seems, never use a can of air as a way to clean your sewing machine. 

All that is likely to happen is that the lint will go further into your sewing machine and you’ll be unable to remove it.

The objective of cleaning your machine is to remove the lint, not hide it! 

Another issue with canned air is that there are chemicals and oils inside. When you spray these into your sewing machine, you can end up with a cement-ish sludge. Doesn’t sound nice, does it?

It doesn’t stop there! It will also lock up your machine and it most likely won’t work ever again so overall, it’s a really bad idea!

How Often Should You Clean Your Sewing Machine?

Tricky question! It really depends on how often you sew or quilt. 

Let’s say you spend your weekends quilting. It’s good practise to start the weekend off with a clean machine. 

Whether that means you end your weekend by giving your machine a brushing out or you do so at the start of your weekend - it doesn’t matter! 

Once you get into this habit, it will become second nature to you and be something that is incredibly quick to do. 

If you need a bit of motivation that it’s a good idea, it will likely make your job easier too as you will have few thread breaks or stitching issues throughout your weekend!

For those who sew and quilt more often than that, a good rule is every 2 bobbin changes. 

The reason this works is that 2 bobbins of thread is quite a big distance so you sewing machine is likely to be pretty dirty as a result!

Having said that, this isn’t always the case. The type of thread you use will alter how much lint it kicks out. Cheaper thread tends to give out more lint so you may have to clean your machine more frequently. 

It’s good to get into the habit of checking your bobbin area often, this will give you an idea of the build up and how often you should give it a clean.

What Else Should I Do Before I Oil My Sewing Machine?

Some people will take the time to also change the needle. When was the last time you changed the needle on your sewing machine? It could be overdue!

Looking for a how to change your needle guide? I’ve got you covered!

When people first start using sewing machines, changing the needle can be often overlooked. This means that over time, the stitching gets worse and it can be a little disheartening when you should be getting better!

I know this may seem like an expensive job but if you buy needles in bulk, it isn’t and it will improve those stitches so it can very much be worth it.

Broken threads, the odd stitch issue, can cause your needle to bend, dull or bur the needle. That’s going to impact every aspect of your project and it can be so easily avoided!

If nothing else, this step gives you a chance to at least consider changing your needle and that’s can only be a good thing!

Where Do You Oil A Sewing Machine?

Where you need to oil your sewing machine may be different to where your friend needs to oil theirs. 

Your manual might advise you on the best places to oil so have a look through that if it’s around.

Otherwise, let me tell you!

You will only need a single drop of oil in each place, don’t over do it. 

Rotary hook - This spins sideways and can be found on a side loadined bobbin. It may also be underneath the plastic piece if it’s a top loading bobbin

Bars behind the hook - They don’t have a special name but I feel that this describes them well - they move horizontally in the base of the sewing machine. 

Sometime these aren’t always accessible so don’t worry if you can’t reach them. However, if you can, a drop of oil will be good.

Needle bar - The bar that holds your needle in place. It moves up and down inside of your sewing machine. You should have access to this so give it a drop. 

As I previously said, “everything that moves” isn’t a bad approach and does work for a lot of people. 

Please don’t be tempted to use any other oil other than sewing machine oil. WD40, though much loved isn’t going to work well in your sewing machine. Nor is 3-in-1 or anything like that. 

I can’t stress this enough, only use sewing machine oil. Any other oil has a tendency to dry out and turn gummy. It’s as good as wrapping chewing gum around your rotary hook or needle bar. 

You wouldn’t do that, would you?

I know this may seem like much more than “how to oil your sewing machine” but following these additional steps will help to keep your sewing machine in showroom condition and make your sewing or quilting easier! 

Once you have got it into your routine, the more confident you are bound to feel about cleaning and oiling your sewing machine. It will also give you a greater understanding on how your machine works

Time to get oiling your sewing machine - it will thank you for it! 

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Amy Law is a freelance content writer covering a wide range of topics, from travel, to technology and fitness, from home and kitchen to garden. When not writing, she enjoys road cycling around the beautiful UK and venturing further afield on two wheels when time allows.
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