Tips for Cleaning & Caring

Looking after your sewing machine is an important but often forgotten step. By cleaning, oiling and caring for your sewing machine you will prolong the life of your machine and help it to perform better; making sewing easier!

Watch the final video in my Sewing for Beginners Series and learn how to take apart the sewing machine to give it good clean. Before you start cleaning and oiling, have a read below and check-out my top tips:
1. Not all sewing machines require oiling. Do check your manual or consult a professional to confirm where you should be oiling your sewing machine. ALWAYS clean before oiling and NEVER oil plastic.
2. Replace the cleaning brush that came with your sewing machine, with a fuller brush. Something like a basting brush for cooking, or make-up brush. Use something with a fuller brush head and coarse brush hairs to remove the lint and debris from your machine.
3. Make sure you only use oil designed for your sewing machine. I use the oil that came with my Bernina sewing machine. I love these pens that you can buy: Bernina Oil Pen, they make the oiling process really easy.
4. Use quality thread on your sewing machine. Poor quality thread made from short fibres (fluffy), will produce more lint.
5. Take care when transporting your sewing machine. Put the presser foot down and a piece of fabric underneath.
6. Get your sewing machine serviced.

Tips for cleaning & oiling your sewing machine:

Give your sewing machine a thorough clean and dust before starting a new project. Wipe down the exterior of the sewing machine with a soft cloth. Remove the stitch plate (you may need to unscrew this) and use a brush to free the machine of lint and debris.

Front Loading Bobbin:
Open the door and remove the bobbin. Remove the hook race ring and remove the hook. Give this area a thorough clean before oiling the edge of the hook. Make sure the machine has been cleaned prior to oiling, lubricating the sewing machine without removing dust and debris will make everything congeal and cause more problems.

Add a tiny bit of oil to the edge of the hook. Only oil metal parts of the sewing machine and make sure that you use a good quality oil, designed for your sewing machine. Replace the hook and hook race ring, lean the sewing machine back if required to get the hook in the correct position. Run the sewing machine with a scrap of fabric after oiling, you don’t want get any oil on your new project.

Drop In Bobbin:
Remove the stitch plate. Lift the metal stitch plate so that you can get to the bobbin case. Remove the bobbin case and give the hook a thorough clean. Not all drop in bobbins require oiling, check your sewing machine manual and if in doubt ask a professional. Remember, you must never add oil to plastic parts of the sewing machine.

How often should you clean and oil your sewing machine? This is a difficult question because it depends on usage. You will need to use your judgement, but I generally clean and oil my sewing machine at the start of every project.

Transporting or storing your sewing machine:
I had a chat with Steve my local sewing machine dealer (Bredons) about the best way to transport a sewing machine. He believes that sewing machines should be stored and transported with the presser foot down. The majority of sewing machines have a spring in the pressor foot, the spring is relaxed when the presser foot is down. By storing and transporting the sewing machine with the presser foot down, you will prolong the life of the spring in the pressor foot.

Steve recommends placing some fabric between the feed dogs and the presser foot. However you can lower the feed dogs if you would like.

How often should you get your sewing machine serviced?
Another difficult question, because again this depends on usage. Personally I get my sewing machines serviced every year, I believe this is best practise and it allows a professional to look over the sewing machine, clean and oil areas I am unable to get to. I recommend checking the warranty on your sewing machine, some machines will require a periodical service to keep them covered. Otherwise you will need to use your judgement, depending on how often you use the sewing machine; I would say servicing ever 1-3 years is a good time frame.

Please also consider getting your sewing machine serviced if it has been stuck in a cupboard unused for a long time. This will help to make sure everything is running correctly before you start to use it again. You don’t want a poorly running sewing machine to put you off sewing!

I hope these tips and techniques have been a useful addition to your sewing repertoire.