Sewing Blog

Lean Machine: Do’s and Don’ts of Cleaning Your Sewing Machine

The nicer you are to your sewing machine, the better it will behave. This goes to the fabric you use, the thread you sew with, and of course, how often you clean it out. Read on for some dos and don'ts when giving your machine a good cleaning!

how to clean your sewing machine

Free Online Sewing Class

sewing class

Learn to fix common sewing machine problems & get better results.Enroll FREE Now »

sewing machine manuals

Do: Read your manual

I don't know about you, but my sewing machine is a precious family member, so the last thing I want to do is to take it apart incorrectly, clean it wrong, or do something irreparable! Seriously, that gives me shivers just thinking about it! So, the best place to get all the correct information on how to take your machine apart and clean it properly is in your manual.

But what if you do not have your manual, you ask? Easy! Call a dealer near you that specializes in your brand of machine and see if they can order you one. Or, check the internet! I found a glorious 1960's Bernina at Goodwill for $19.99 many years ago, and wanted to find the manual for it. I searched for the make and model of the machine and found a PDF download of the original manual for $5.00. Best money I've ever spent!

brush

Do: Brush the machine out regularly

Most machines come with a small plastic brush to be used in cleaning out all the lint and dust left in the easy-to-reach spots of your sewing machine. I like these just fine, but they do not compare in the slightest to this fancy pink one I have, pictured above. It is large and cleans out all the lint in one quick brush, unlike the little ones that come with the machine.

This was a gift from one of my favorite students, and it is ideal for cleaning out your machine. It is a simple anti-static brush meant for computers found locally at a Los Angeles store, Daiso. But these can be found in a lot of shops that carry computer items. Check your local office supply store to see if they have something similar.

Don't: Use canned air or blow into your machine

A common thought is to use canned air to blow out all the lint and dust from your sewing machine. But this is a bad idea, as when it is pushed out from the can, there is cold moisture pushed out with it, leaving small particles of moisture on the metal parts of your machine. And if we know one thing from science class, moisture does some pretty bad things to metal.

Same is true for your breath! It is a natural instinct to blow the dust away from your machine, but your breath is full of moisture, making the parts of your machine damp. I know this seems minor, but I plan to have my current machine until I die, so I want to be very kind to it!

manual oiling chart

Do: Oil the machine as written in your manual

When I oil and lubricate my machine, I do it exactly as it is written in my manual. I follow each and every step, one by one, following all of their tips and techniques, being careful to do precisely as it says. Most machines will come with very detailed instructions on how to oil your machine, and you can trust that their instruction is not arbitrary. So follow along closely and pay attention to what you are doing along the way.

Don't: Oil the machine if it tells you not to

All of that above being said, some machines are self-lubricating and do not need to be oiled by the user. So if the manual tells you NOT to oil your machine, trust them and do not do it yourself. I would consult with your local dealer to confirm how often it should be cleaned and serviced, as it will require maintenance even if it says that it is not to be oiled at home.

sewing machine oil

Don't: Over oil

The instinct is to lube your machine up a ton so everything is moving smoothly and gliding really well, but over oiling can lead to a serious mess. Ask me how I know! Yep, once I absolutely over oiled my machine.

A good rule of thumb: Oil a tiny bit, see how it feels, and you can always oil some more. If you do find yourself with a bit too much oil, run some muslin or scrap fabric through the machine for a bit, then wipe everything down on the exterior of the machine with a damp soapy towel. Let it sit so the oil can collect, and do it again. You might have to do this a number of times over a few days until the excess oil has worked itself out of the machine, so be patient and do not sew anything delicate as it will get oil on it!

Do: Only take small areas apart at a time

When following along with your manual, only do small areas at a time. Follow the steps to disassemble, clean, brush out, and lubricate one area, then put that area all back together and move onto the next part of the machine. It can get very confusing really quickly if you have a bunch of screws and machine parts all over your sewing table, unsure of where they go. You absolutely want to put it all back just the same way you found it, so move around the machine a little at a time so you do not end up with a bunch of parts unsure of where they belong!

Do: Wipe the machine with a rag often

After each project is a perfect time to give your machine a little TLC. Take a moment to wipe it down with a damp towel, removing any dust, lint, and anything else that might have gotten on it along the way. It will make sitting down for your next project all that much more fun, since you will be starting with a clean and happy machine!

unplug

Don't: Work on your machine plugged in

This is absolute basic common sense, but it always bears repeating! Do not ever work on your machine with it plugged into the wall! Nothing good can come from messing inside an electrical tool with it plugged in, so first things first, always unplug the machine before you get started. Safety first!

Free Online Sewing Class

sewing class

Learn to fix common sewing machine problems & get better results.Enroll FREE Now »

45 Comments

Bonnie Shier

I have a Husqvarna sapphire and would like to know how to get to the bottom of the machine to clean lint etc. from it. Any suggestions as it doesn’t tell me in the manual I have> Thanks

Reply
Barbara

Your Husqvarna Sapphire is meant to be serviced only by the repairman; contact your local store. If you take it apart yourself you risk voiding the warranty. They can tell if you open it yourself or if you allow somebody not certified by Viking to service it.

Reply
Patricia

Do not attempt to work on your Husqvarna Viking your self. They must go to a dealer. I take mine in once a year for maintenance.

Reply
james superits

I am a Viking certified mechanic if you open your machine you will take a chance on corrupting your computer boards with static electricity it would be better if you bring that type of machine into someone that is certified on Viking’s for it’s maintenance.
YES They do need to be clean,oil and adjusted.
James Superits
P.O.Box 308
hurley WI 54534

Reply
Linda A. Smith

I would also LOVE to know how to get that cover off JUST to clean out the DUST with my artist’s feather brush and perhaps the small tool attachments for my vacuum. That’s all. I object to having to take it in to be serviced every year and pay a ‘certified’ Husqvarna tech over $100 to dust it out. I’ve had this machine for several years and when something is awry, I can tell and do take it in to my dealer to be serviced.. I am not an idiot. I understand the danger of static electricity and would clean the machine on a humid day, not the dead of winter where you manage to walk across your carpets and get shocked turning on a light! I do not need ANY adjustments; the machine is working just fine, BUT I KNOW there is an accumulation of lint because I piece many quilts and then FMQ them on this machine. Next time I buy a machine, it will be one I am able to do these types of maintenance on myself. I think it’s a rip-off; a gimmick. Give me the secret to removing the cover; I’ll take my chances. Even better, tell me how I can also become a certified Husqvarna technician. I’m not just a tailor, but a tinkerer, too. A careful, meticulous tinkerer. My dad was an engineer,(CMU) and I used to work with him repairing watches (his hobby). I am whatchacall ‘mechanically inclined’. It’s in my blood!

Please just tell me how to get the cover off. My machine is WAY out of warranty. And, I have two other machines, A BabyLock QP and a Bernina 1030, both in excellent working order, so if I did something to my HV 870, it would be my fault but not put me out of commission. Allow me to take the chance!
Thanks

Reply
Sharon

Check out “She’s A Sewing Machine Mechanic”. She has a great blog about this topic

Reply
Jan Johnson

I do know one thing about working on computerized machines. You must be wearing an anti-static bracelet prior to accessing the mechanism or you WILL do damage to the computer with just one little bit of static charge. DONT DO IT. If you decide to do it, be prepared to replace the mother board. If you are really that mechanically inclined, I am surprised that you cant figure it out.

Reply
Pimchai Jantz

I bought preowned Husqvarna Designer Diamond from other sewing machine dealer a few year ago. I paid to take a basic 4 hours class of how to use the machine from Husqvarna dealer but didn’t feel that I had learned enough to know how to operate the machine well. Does Husqvarna offer the DVDs to Designer Diamond owner how to operate and take care of the machine?

Reply
Dee

Sewingmastery.com has fabulous online tutorials on HV machines. They have an entire series on the Designer Diamond. Sarah, who does the tutorials, is detailed and gives great hints and shortcuts. You will feel like you know EVERYTHING about your machine when you are done. And it is all free. Just copy and paste the following into your web browser. Enjoy!
http://www.sewingmastery.com/videos/designer-diamond-royal/

Reply
Brenda

Thank you or the infoion the sewing mastery site. I will check it out.

Reply
ellen

Yes, there are great video’s at http://www.sewingmastery.com . they have vids for all models. I bought a Ruby and found the manual quite limited. The vids on this site are excellent and very helpful.

Reply
MA Mottley

My two Brother machines are not to be oiled. Be sure to check user’s manual before oiling.

Reply
Susan vanHunnik

Same here with the Brother Machines. The newer machines do not need oil, so best to check the manual before oiling and gumming up the works and then having to spend precious dollars and time away from your machine.

Reply
Edie Scott

I have a Designer 1 SE machine I purchased used in 2007.Someone stole my manuals and by the grace of God did not get the machine as well.I would like to replace the two manuals it comes with as well as a service manual.Please let me know where I may find these items since they are no longer in print.

Reply
Teresa

Knowing how important it is to have our manuals thought I would provide a little hope. Please quick google search for your manual….if you do not find one, please contact me. I do have all the designer one manuals (had one and it died). Very busy at the moment however will note and scan to my pc if you do not find a copy on line. I also have the accessory guides which were very useful with pictures on feet and types of stitching. Cheers and Happy Sewing.

Reply
Beth

Google designer 1 sewing machine manual to download a manual. Hope this helps

Reply
Beverly Pike

I have a Designer that does not work any more and I will be glad to sell you my books. I also have an extension table and a 4 spool thread rack. I have the embroidery unit and alot of attachments for the machine if you are interested.

Reply
TerriSue

When I graduated from high school in the ’70s my parents bought me the top of the line Bernina at the time. By following the above advice my machine has been going strong ever since. It served me well sewing for pay before I had children. Then it kept up with the demands of sewing for two children and myself. Now I continue to sew for myself my grown daughter and her children. I have never felt the need to upgrade or to get a serger. I have just always taken care of my sewing machine and it has been there for me. It’s worth the time after every project to clean it out. If you make a habit of it, you know your machine and it doesn’t take that long. I do think I will have to invest in one of those computer brushes. It looks fantastic.

Reply
Sue

I have a Sears Kenmore from the 70’s. Have made a lot of money from my baby !!!
I do have a serger that I never even plugged in ……

Reply
Carol Van Sickle

Recently, I purchased a 2nd hand Huskvarna/Viking H-Class 600E so now I have two of them. The most recently purchased machine needed some parts to be replaced as it was missing the Dongle (out of format) and the thread guide by the needle was broken as well as the plastic guide for the threader. First thing I did was take a fish-hook earing wire and bent it into a shape of a guide which was right guage to go into the collar for the needle holder. The other parts I could not fabricate so I ordered them through my friendly dealer and finished the repair. The white plastic slotted guide was cracked and the pin slipped through the crack and the shaft would come down with a crash. That is now fixed and the machine works like a champ and the dongle I had previously works with both machines. I thought the fish-hook earring is a great help if that item needs replacing, it was an instant fix and was something I already had on hand.

Reply
Virginia

Wonderful to get help. I have a Sears Robuck
Machine made by Singer. I want to start again
Sewing quilts, clothes etc. The machine has been A/C, hear in a room covered with it’s
COVER hard top. Do u believe it will still work?
Thank you

Reply
Harriet

Just FYI, checked 2 Daiso’s in my area. No luck on the brush. Clerk told me that different stores carry different things. Poo. You can order them online…$8.40 for 5 and probably s/h, too.

Reply
Lisa

I have a Baby Lock Unity that I got for my birthday last year. I’m still learning all of the things it can do. I was wondering if anyone knows of a site with good tutorials for it like the sewmastery.com has for the HV machines. Thanks for the great tips for cleaning the machine.

Reply
Linda

Searched online for the cute pink brush. Can’t find anywhere. Tried Daiso’s online site and could not find them there either. If anyone has found one please let me know where. Thanks!

Reply
Georgia

I found one on Amazon, it is yellow, not pink but it looks like the same packaging as the pink one– just do a search for ‘zyhw yellow hook anti-static brush’. Or if u just search for an anti-static brush and scroll til you see the yellow one with the loop on the handle.

Reply
diet altogether

Hi to every body, it’s my first pay a quick visit of this web site; this blog
includes remarkable and in fact fine information designed for visitors.

Reply
Amanda Blanda

i have four Berninas and they run beautifully because I always clean and oil them. One is 30 years old and I sew on it almost daily. Also changing the needle after about four hours of stitching keeps them healthy.

Reply
Catherine Perryman

I have 2 brother machines that do not need to be oiled, however I started a sewing group, and when someone first brings along their machine, most of the lesson is taken up with general care and maintance to get the machine running properly, all machines are different, check your manual to make sure you are doing what is best.

Reply
Dee

I recently bought a White embroidery machine and it came with the manual and also a disk to put into the computer. Unfortunately I’m not experienced with an embroidery machine especially a computerized one. I can get it to sew but I don’t know what the internal pattern is and it gets to a point and then makes a nasty noise and the needle & thread snap. I have tried to put the disk in so I can find the number and also download a driver for it. My Windows 7 does not even recognize the disk is in. I am truly stymied and need a pro to help me out. It’s model 4400 but Husqvana who took over White only has model 3300. Anyone got a disk they can copy for me, I’ll buy it from you.

Reply
Diane

Have you tried the disc in a different computer? It might be your machine, not the disc.

Reply
Margaret Lowe

i bought my Bernina machine (the one pictured above in 1985. It has had a lot of hard ware. Had it serviced three times in all that time because I followed the instructions In the book on how to oil and clean. Unfortunately the knob that you lower the feed dog with broke and now apparently there are no more spare parts. I aim to continue looking after it it is my pride and joy.

Reply
Ginger Lindsay

I have a H V. I also need a video or more instruction on how to use it. It is a H V. Diamond delux. I did not purchase from a dealer, because of that they charge 45$ an hour to teach.I simply can not afford that for lessons. If someone has I’m formation that could help please do. Especially on the embroider part. Thanks, Ginger

Reply
Eva Dubberstein

I own a Jamome Machine now, which my children love, but I still have my old Singer sewing machine – dual voltage. I had it for for over 26 years. The straight stitch still work but the decorative stitches just won’t work anymore. You have any advice on how to make them work? I was told via online that it must be the timing. I checked the inside but I am too sissy to do anything about it, worried that I make the problem worse. Model is DV7119 (I hope I got that right). However, my almost hundred years old Singer Sewing Machine – I inherited from my husband’s late Grandma – works a lot better than the one I mentioned above. Thank You.

Reply
Ann

I now also have a Janome, but my first electric machine was a Husquarna. Sadly, I had to have it serviced after I’d leant it to a friend’s daughter and it came back sewing only the straight stitch. A friend – who is a trained service engineer – said that it had plastic cogs, and that they’d just worn, hence my buying the Janome. Maybe your Singer has similar cogs. Funnily enough, I also own my late Mum’s Singer hand machine. She was born in 1910, and had it for her 21st birthday. I sewed my wedding dress on it (40 years ago this year), and it had never been professionally serviced, she always did it herself, and it never let her – or me – down.

Reply
Celeste Basile

I have a Bernina 830. I have had this machine for forty years. I also have a l090. I use both of them all of the time. Those years ago I was giving classes to the people who bought the new machines. I still feel the Bernina machines are WONDERFUL . I also have a machine for more fancy embroidery work, but I am true blue to Bernina.

Reply
Ramona Chester

I still have my Bernina 930 Record and users manual that I bought over 40 years ago, but I am going to be on the outlook for one of those little pink brushes – gifting them to my quilt group for our annual Christmas exchange too!

Reply
Sandra Grey

Always ready to learn more.

Reply
kathy sampson

Suggestion…. before taking anything apart take a few pictures. Step by step. It sure helps when our memories are not to good. Take some notes for future tasks.

Reply
Carol underwood

I wish you had information on the Husqurana Viking Freesia.

Reply
Rachel Drinnon

I am new to the sewing world and I recently inherited two very old singers that I know absolutely nothing about. I did several online searches and even called singer and came up empty handed because the machines are so old they don’t have a model/serial number on them. They both run but I have several attachments and I have no idea what they are for. I would like to learn all I can about these machines so if anyone has any suggestions for me I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks in advance

Reply
ERIC SIMKINS

Hi
I have been a sewing machine service person for 50 plus years.
Many dealers tell there customers NOT to oil there machine. However, the lint pulls out the oil from the parts leaving the parts dry, that leads to friction, friction causes heat, heat causes wear.
If you do not oil your machine the local dealer can tell you that you missed used the machine…therefore your warranty is void. Also, DO NOT PUT GREASE IN & AROUND the gears behind or below the bobbin case area. This causes the teeth to get full of lint then the gears break. Oil ONLY

Reply
Anti Static Brush | purathrive reviews

[…] Lean Machine: Do’s and Don’ts of Cleaning Your Sewing Machine – It is large and cleans out all the lint in one quick brush, unlike the little ones that come with the machine. This was a gift from one of my favorite students, and it is ideal for cleaning out your machine. It is a simple anti-static brush meant for … […]

Reply
Purathrive Reviews – Curcumin

[…] Do’s and Don’ts of Cleaning a Sewing Machine on Craftsy – I don’t know about you, but my sewing machine is a precious family member, so the last thing I want to do is to take it apart incorrectly, clean it wrong, or do … […]

Reply
Purathrive Reviews – Purathrive Store

[…] Do’s and Don’ts of Cleaning a Sewing Machine on Craftsy – I don’t know about you, but my sewing machine is a precious family member, so the last thing I want to do is to take it apart incorrectly, clean it wrong, or do … […]

Reply
Ben Allen

I appreciate the information on how to clean and maintain a sewing machine so you can keep it running for a long time. I had no idea that you should not use canned air to clean the sewing machine. I would have figured that using canned air was just as good as brushing the machine off. My sister is getting into sewing and just got a sewing machine. I will be sure to share this information with her.

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Reply