How to Care for & Clean Your Sewing Machine

Hey, you!

I love a clean, clutter-free home. I love a clean, clutter-free sewing space.

Both a clutter-free home and a clutter-free sewing space give me room to exhale and allow my imagination to run wild and free. For me, none of that is possible in a cluttered space.

Well, sewing machines like to be clean and free of dust too. A dirty sewing machine will be a noisy, unhappy sewing machine.

How uncluttered you keep your home or sewing space is entirely up to you. But there is no excuse for a dirty sewing machine! Keeping your sewing machine clean is the #1 thing you can do to keep her blissfully humming along.

If you fail to clean your sewing machine after each project, she will choke on her lint and fur balls and refuse to run! It’s that simple.

And you know what a clean sewing machine means to you?!

It means that you get to sew insanely pretty dresses without a hitch!

And after all, isn’t that why you’re here?!

Anyhoo, I like to start with some ground rules. Here’s what you need to know to keep your machine happy…

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Rules for Cleaning Your Sewing Machine

Rule #1: NEVER clean your machine with it plugged in! It would make me sad if you accidentally hit that foot pedal while in the process of taking care of your machine.

Rule #2: Keep your sewing machine covered when not in use. This will protect her from all those invisible, airborne dust particles looking for a home!

Rule #3: Do NOT use canned air. It will just move dust and lint balls deeper into your machine.

Rule #4: Do NOT blow into your machine–your breath contains even more moisture! And you don’t need to be adding any moisture to the inner workings of your sewing machine because moisture can cause corrosion. However, you can use a small vacuum.

How to Clean Your Sewing Machine

sewing machine manual, cotton swabs, microfiber, and high-quality sewing machine oil

A clean sewing machine is a quiet, happy machine!

Required tools:

Now, that you’ve got your cleaning supplies, here’s how to clean your bobbin case and feed dogs:

ALWAYS turn your machine OFF and unplug it before you begin.

Next, remove the presser foot.

how to clean bobbin case and feed dogs

  1. Now, remove the screw from the throat plate using a screwdriver. Check your owner’s manual for instructions if necessary.
  2. Then, lift the throat plate off the bed of the sewing machine and lift out the bobbin case.
  3. See that lint in the image labeled #3. Yuck!
  4. Next, apply a small dab or sewing machine oil to a clean Q-tip. You don’t want the Q-tip soaked in oil. You just want enough to pick up lint.
    Now, use your Q-tip and swab the area under the needle throat plate and inside the bobbin case to remove lint. (See the image labeled #4. I had to use TWO Q-tips! Ewwwwwwww!)
  5. Once you’ve completed the steps above, line up the arrows of the bobbin case with the bobbin holder. Replace the needle throat plate and the presser foot.

Now that your machine is nice and clean, install a new needle and rethread your machine.

Finally, wipe down the exterior of your sewing machine with a clean, slightly damp microfiber cloth.

And you’re ready to sew…

Pro tip: WD-40 or other household oils are NOT a substitute for a quality, clear sewing machine oil!

How to Oil Your Sewing Machine

While my mechanical Janome 415 requires oiling, My Janome DC2014 does NOT. In fact, most modern machines are self-oiling!

image from sewing manual about oiling the machine

Am I gonna tell you where to oil your machine?!

Nope!

Why not?

Well, first, every sewing machine is unique.

And, second, I want you to get in the habit of referring to your sewing machine owner’s manual!

However, I will tell you this…

If after you’ve checked your owner’s manual and determined that your sewing machine does need oiling. I want you to do this:

  1. Turn your sewing machine OFF and unplug it.
  2. Raise the presser foot.
  3. Raise your needle to the highest position by pressing the Needle UP button or turning your handwheel until the takeup level is visible.
  4. Now, follow the instructions in your owner’s manual for oiling your machine.
  5. You only need to apply a tiny dab of oil to the areas your owner’s manual recommends.
  6. Once you’ve oiled your machine, plug it in and press your foot pedal all the way and run it at full speed for 30 seconds.

Yep, this is your one and only opportunity to pretend that you’re Danica Patrick at Daytona 500!

Pro tip #1: I recommend that you plug your computerized sewing machine into a high-quality surge protector. Pick a brand name surge protector with enough $$ coverage to replace your sewing machine if an electrical surge should kill it! I like this one by Belkin.

Pro tip #2: Get into the practice of unplugging your machine when it is not in use.

Yearly Professional Service

Can you guess what you and your sewing machine have in common?!

Yes, you both need annual check-ups!

If you use your sewing machine a lot, then it is a good idea to have it serviced by an authorized dealer at least once a year.

If you are not a heavy sewer, then you can probably get your machine serviced every other year!

It will cost you anywhere from $80 to $150. During this service, they will lubricate all the major moving parts, clean your tension discs, reset tension and timing back to factory settings, deep clean all those hidden nooks deep inside your machine, and more.

Pro tip: Once you get your machine back home and before you sew your first stitches, do your own tension test for both the straight stitch and the zigzag stitches!

The End

Consult your sewing machine owner’s manual on the care and “feeding” of your machine.

Keep your machine covered when not in use to protect it from dust.

And clean it after every major project, because a clean machine is a quiet, happy machine that performs.

Okay! That’s it.

And remember…

Life is the ultimate red carpet event. Dress for it!

RELATED: Click this link to learn all the essential sewing tools you need to begin sewing insanely pretty dresses!

RELATED: Click this link to learn everything you need to know about your sewing machine!

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