How to Clean a Sewing Machine Like a Pro (9 Tips)

Someone has to do it. A sewing machine will not clean itself and it doesn’t do windows. But if you want to have your sewing machine last you for a very long time, you need to clean it on a regular basis. That means you have to do it as your husband and kids won’t do it either.

How to Clean a Sewing Machine Like a Pro: One way to clean your sewing machine like a pro is to use a lint brush. Usually, one is included in your purchase but if you have lost it or it was missing from the box, get a lint brush right away.

To learn more about cleaning your sewing machine and how important it is to do, just keep reading our article. It fills you in on the cleaning details so you can keep your sewing machine in top shape for many years to come.

Tip 1: You should clean your sewing machine after every 8 to 10 hours of use. If you don’t sew very often, then you won’t have to clean it too frequently. Before cleaning it, never forget to power off first!

Tip 2: Cleaning your sewing machine is so important that one manufacturer states that if you are having trouble with your machine- clean it. A dirty machine will not let the sewing machine work as it should.

How to Clean Sewing Machine Tension Discs


A good way to clean your tension disc is to use a piece of fleece about 8 to 10 inches long. It doesn’t have to be too wide and when you stretch the fleece it will curl into a tube and lengthen. That is okay as that is what you want.

Now, raise the feed dogs and release the tension discs. When this is done, just rub the fleece around the tension discs till they are clean. If you get a little oil on the fleece, just replace it with another dry piece.

Just be careful not to damage the check spring. A little rubbing alcohol should take care of any old oil as well. Rub gently when you do this.

Tip 3: When you get ready to clean, make sure to unplug the sewing machine and remove the thread spool, needle, and bobbin

Cleaning Sewing Machine Motor


The long way to clean the sewing machine motor involves taking it all apart and cleaning each part one at a time. You can use a pencil eraser to clean the copper commutator or sandpaper.

Also, you can use a drill to spin the commutator and just hold the sandpaper around it. To get to the smaller parts, you do not have to remove any electrical wiring. Just use a toothbrush, or a small stick with cotton wrapped around one end and brush the dirt away. Also to make sure you get all the dirt off, you can use alcohol to remove the grime. Just do not get any of the alcohol on the outer part of your sewing machine.

Once you are finished, you now have the tedious job of putting the motor back together. Oh, there is no short way to clean the sewing machine motor.

Tip 4; Make sure to replace your needle after every cleaning. Also, do not use WD-40 to lubricate your working parts. Use clear oil that is recommended in your owner’s manual.

How to Clean Sewing Machine Shuttle


You will need to turn your sewing machine onto its back and remove any covering that may block your view of the shuttle. Use steel wool and gently rub against the shuttle as well as a little oil. This is where a little is more.

After you removed the dirt, grime and rust, take a dry cloth and wipe the shuttle and neighboring parts with a soft dry rag. Again, you should be firm but gentle when you do this.

If you have any oil holes for lubrication, use those to apply a little oil, about 2 drops each time, to make sure your moving parts have no friction.

Tip 5: To clean the lint that has gathered in your sewing machine, you can use a can of compressed air, a slender vacuum hose or a lint brush to get it all removed.

Cleaning the Foot Pedal


The foot pedal really doesn’t have a lot of parts inside of it. That is good news for you as that will make it easier to clean. You need to remove the back cover and open up the foot pedal to get started.

Be careful that you do not damage any parts as you clean. Some can be quite fragile. Also, double-check to make sure your machine is unplugged from its power source. You can use a toothbrush, soft cloth or even a vacuum cleaner to get all the dirt out.

After you have finished cleaning, put a drop or two of oil on all metal and moving parts. Then put the cover back on and you are good to go.

Tip 6: Do not house your sewing machine in a dusty room or spot in your home. Also, you should not have the kitty litter box anywhere near your sewing machine.

How to Clean Treadle Sewing Machine Base


The first thing you should know about cleaning a treadle is that water is your enemy. While water can clean the treadle base, it will damage your decals and cause rust. To replace water, you can use Murphy’s Oil and wipe your treadle down with a soft cloth.

After you have finished using that soap, you can wipe it off using a sewing machine oil. Other people will skip the Murphy’s Oil soap part and just let the sewing machine oil take away the dust and dirt from the treadle and treadle base.

Murphy’s Oil will work on any wood pats you may have attached to your sewing machine, like the cabinet.

Tip 7: You do not need to use a lot of oil when cleaning your machine or lubricating it. A drop or two will suffice and make sure your metal parts are well lubricated. Follow your owner’s manual when you do this step and use the right oil.

Cleaning Sewing Machine Needles


The good news is that there are a lot of ways and solutions to use when it is time to clean your sewing machine needle. The list is long and includes, sewer’s aid, a degreaser, nail polish remover, orange cleaner (soak in this), rub with a wet rag and a lot more options.

The trick here is not to rub so hard that you bend or damage your needle. If you soak the needles, you should do it overnight then use your fingernail or a pin to scrape the grime off.

Tip 8: dental picks are a good tool to use when you have small areas between parts that need to be cleaned.

How to Clean an Old Singer Sewing Machine (vintage machines) 70


The first step in cleaning an old vintage sewing machine is to take a soft dry cloth and some water, or you can use a substitute liquid, and wipe down the machine. This will get rid of the surface loose materials.

Then you want to remove all access plates and other parts and use toothpicks to clean in those small little areas. Or you can use canned air but make sure to get all the lint out before replacing the access plates.

Step three, as you apply the proper lubricant to all the moving parts. Use a little only and wipe off the excess. Step four has you replacing all the access plates and making sure you have greased all the moving parts.

Finally, clean off any excess oil and grease then turn the sewing machine on. The more you use your sewing machine, the better it will run.

Tip 9: When certain parts are hard to remove, do not use a hammer. You may damage those parts. Use a rubber mallet and tap firmly but not too hard.

Clean Rust off The Sewing Machine

Rust is always a problem when you have a metal sewing machine. The exterior parts are easy to remove rust from them as you have great access to those parts. To get to the interior metal parts, you will have to remove all the access panels and removable parts.

Once you have done that, get a little steel wool and some clear oil and rub gently but firmly. Take your time and be careful. You don‘t want to harm your smaller parts. Learn more about removing rust in our How to clean a rusty sewing machine guide.

How to Clean Industrial Sewing Machines


Industrial sewing machines are not that much different from household models. They have the same parts but they may be bigger and stronger. Even with this difference, you still need to keep these machines clean if they are going to work right.

You will still have to remove bobbins, access plates and so on to get all the lint out. Removing the lint can be done by vacuuming or using a spray air can. Cleaning the industrial sewing machine just takes a little extra time.

Cleaning Sewing Machine With kerosene

Kerosene may not seem like a good cleaning fluid to use but it does cut the grease and grime away from all the metal parts with ease. It will also remove any oil that has gummed up over lack of use.

But when you clean with kerosene, you should run the machine very quickly afterwards and use a cheesecloth to wipe up any leftover fuel. Then you need to oil the machine again and after a few hours of use, you will need to re-oil it.

If you still have a problem with the machine get a skilled repairman to help you.

Compressed Air to Clean a Sewing Machine


This is one of the recommended ways to get lint out of those small spots where it can gather quite easily. Most people do not have a small enough vacuum to fit into those spots so canned air will do the trick.

If you want, you can run a Q-tip, toothpick, or even a dental pick over the area you just sprayed to get the rest of the lint out.

Can I Use Canned Air to Clean My Sewing Machine

There is nothing wrong with using canned air to get lint out of your sewing machine. Your smaller cleaning tools can get the larger pieces of lint and fabric out. Then you just need to follow up with the canned air to make sure the tiny pieces are removed quickly.

Using canned air to clean your sewing machine is one way to be a very thorough cleaner.

Can I Use WD40 on My Sewing Machine


It is not recommended that you use WD-40 to lubricate your sewing machine. Most sewing machine owner’s manuals will specify what type of oil you should use when lubricating and cleaning your machine.

Sewing machine oil or clear oil is what you should use instead of using WD-40.

Cost to Clean a Sewing Machine

Part of the price will depend on what kind of machine you own. Roughly, you can expect to pay about $85 to get your machine cleaned. Some prices may be as low as $50 or $75 and as high as $100.

Your cost will also depend on who you get to clean your machine. Expect manufacturers and department stores to charge more for their services. Different parts of the country will also have different prices attached to the service depending on the cost of living in that area.

Some Final Words

There are some people who do not want to clean their sewing machines. They may be afraid that they will break or lose a part. But with the information above, you should be able to clean your sewing machine without fear. The key is to not be afraid.

If you do not want to pay the high cost of having someone clean your machine, then you should do it yourself and save.

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