Yes, sewing machine oil does go bad. But if you store it properly, you can extend its life by years. In this article, we will show you easy ways of determining whether your oil can is still usable . If you’re wondering why this matters, we recommend that you keep reading and you’ll find your answer.
Lubrication from the oil prevents rust and friction between the parts of a sewing machine. This increases the machine’s life because it reduces the amount of wear and tear.
Furthermore, machine oil can be of three types: Mineral, Synthetic and Natural.
Mineral oil is a colorless, odorless and transparent fluid. It is made from petrochemicals which are derived from petroleum and is the most common and the least expensive type of oil used. It is also non-toxic, which is useful to know in case you have children in your house.
On the other hand, synthetic oil is an artificial alternative to mineral oils and is usually the more expensive type. While mineral oils will lubricate the metal parts of a sewing machine, synthetic oils will even lubricate the plastic parts. In case you accidentally over-oil your machine, synthetic oils cause the least amount of damage on your garment.
However, natural oils are the least effective type of oil. They are usually made from natural ingredients such as jojoba, silicone and ester oils. This does not mean that household oils such as vegetable, coconut and olive oil are good for your machine. In fact, they are completely ineffective and can even damage it. However, if you are looking for an environment-friendly alternative, natural sewing machine oils will be the best option for you.
Although oils take a long time to go bad (which we will elaborate on as you read), sewing machine oil is not an item we purchase very frequently. So it matters that we know how to determine whether the oil has gone bad.
We often get asked why it matters at all. Sewing machines are an investment, and they sure are not cheap! Using expired oil or even the wrong type of it can become a huge mess, and we are certain you will regret your decision seconds after you make it. The oil will gum up, attract dust and dirt and severely reduce your sewing machine’s performance.
Generally, sewing machine oils last up to five years. But if you are careless with their storage, you could seriously reduce their lifespan.
For instance, avoid storing your oil in direct sunlight or extreme cold. This can affect the amount of air moving in and out of the container, which will speed up the its degeneration. Preserve the oil from condensation and any contact with water because water can encourage bacterial growth in the oil. Apart from that, make sure you store the oil in containers that are not damaged and avoid mixing different types of oils.
We also advise you to make sure the container you use is transparent. This will allow you to decide whether the oil inside is good enough to use on your sewing machine. As we have mentioned already, if there is a change of color, you will be able to detect it before it’s too late (i.e. before you have used the oil on your machine).
To be more specific, mineral oils can have a shelf life of up to five years. Synthetic oils usually have a long life, but poor storage can drastically reduce this. As for natural oils, a lot of brands claim that they don’t expire, but this isn’t true. Natural oils can oxidize, so they evaporate. (Again, damaged containers can speed up the evaporation process because then, more oxygen can enter the container)
Practically speaking, nobody is going to go shopping just to buy oil for their sewing machine — we know we wouldn’t. So in an attempt to make life easier, we’ve discovered some substitutes that can be used instead, which we will share below.
Most sewing machine oils are made of petrochemicals. So even the fuel you use for your car can temporarily be used on your sewing machine. However, we wouldn’t recommend this substitute because petrochemicals have the potential to cause respiratory problems when inhaled excessively. Due to this, a lot of people completely stay away from mineral oils and stick with natural oils alone.
Natural oils, as mentioned above, are made of jojoba, silicone and ester oils. You can even make this oil from scratch by combining ⅓ of a cup of jojoba oil and a tablespoon each of ester and silicone oil.
Bike lubricants have also proven to be effective. If you have a son at home, this might come off as good news. But bike lubricants contain TEFLON, kerosene and paraffin. These chemicals can cause serious damage to the environment, so we wouldn’t really recommend them.
If you’re completely out of oil and cannot purchase some, even Vaseline can be a temporary substitute. However, Vaseline wasn’t made to be a lubricant so we wouldn’t advise you to use too much of it on your machine.
Lastly, white mineral oil which is commonly known as liquid petroleum can also act as a substitute for sewing machine oil. It is also cheaper and easier to find in stores.
Having a sewing machine in your house is like having an artifact. Take care of it like you would take care of a treasure. One day, someone is going to look at you with awe when they find out that you can sew your own clothes.
Keep in mind that simple information like this can prove to be life-changing one day. And now that you know how to determine whether your oil is good or bad, share this post with your friends, and don’t forget to leave your comments below!