White sewing machine up close

How to Clean Your Sewing Machine: A Step-by-Step Guide

A sparkly clean sewing machine(both inside and out…but mostly inside) is the key to getting those top-notch stitches. It will also keep that machine alive and running for many years. Regular cleaning is a must to keep things running smoothly and avoid any annoying thread jams, broken needles, or other hiccups. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll walk you through the process of cleaning your sewing machine, so you can keep it in tip-top condition.

Step 1: Grab Your Supplies

Before you start, grab these supplies:

  • A lint-free cloth for gentle cleaning
  • A small brush or even a soft paintbrush (like these ones here)
  • Tweezers to pluck away any stubborn bits
  • Some sewing machine oil to keep things running smoothly (if your machine requires oil)
  • A screwdriver, in case you need it to access certain parts (like this one here)
  • Your trusty user manual, just in case you need some guidance along the way
    • *Tip: If you didn’t save your manual, just google the model of your sewing machine and you should be able to find an online copy. 

Step 2: Power Down and Unplug

Safety first! Make sure your sewing machine is turned off and unplugged from the power source. Please don’t electrocute yourself.

Step 3: Take Out the Needle and Thread

Now, let’s gently remove the needle from the machine using the needle clamp screw. If you still have any thread in there, snip it away and pull it out.

Step 4: Remove the Presser Foot and Needle Plate

Give that presser foot lever a lift to release it from the machine. Slide it off along with the presser foot holder. Next up, unscrew the needle plate and carefully remove it. Make sure you put the screws in a very safe place so you don’t lose them!

Step 5: Brush Away Dust and Debris

Grab your trusty small brush or soft paintbrush and let’s gently sweep away any dust, lint, and debris from the bobbin area, feed dogs, and any hidden nooks and crannies of the machine. If you’re like me and you wait a long time between cleanings, this process can take a while. Pay extra attention to those hard-to-reach spots.

Step 6: Let’s Give the Bobbin Case Some Love

Remove the bobbin case and brush away any lint or pesky thread fragments. If your machine is equipped with a removable hook, take it out and carefully clean away any lint buildup.

Step 7: Cleaning Time for the Needle Plate

Now, let’s wipe down that needle plate with a soft lint-free cloth to get rid of any residue or dust. If needed, you can slightly dampen the cloth with water.

Step 8: Time to Give the Machine a Little Love, Oil Style

Lots of newer machines do not require or recommend oiling your machine, so make sure you check your manual! But if your machine does like a little oil, apply a few drops of sewing machine oil to those specific areas noted in your manual. Typically, you’ll want to oil up the shuttle race, bobbin case, and other moving parts. Just try not to go overboard with the oil, as excess can attract more dust and cause some hiccups along the way.

Step 9: Let’s Put the Pieces Back Together

Now that we’ve given everything some care and attention, it’s time to put your machine back together. Place the bobbin case, hook, needle plate, and presser foot back in their respective spots. Make sure everything is securely settled in the right spot. Check your manual again if you need to.

Sewing Machine sewing a piece of fabric

Step 10: Testing, Testing – Get Those Threads Ready!

Re-thread your machine, pop in a shiny new needle, and attach that trusty presser foot. Grab a scrap piece of fabric and…let’s give it a whirl!

There you have it, your ultimate guide to cleaning your sewing machine! It’s all about keeping things spick and span to ensure those stitches keep coming out picture perfect. Happy sewing!