How to Clean a Sewing Machine – (7 Steps & Guide)

Last Updated on September 24, 2023

We all know that taking care of our belongings ensures they last longer. Sewing machine maintenance is one of those things that often needs to be addressed. You might be surprised at how frequently you should clean and maintain your sewing machine.

Clean a Sewing Machine

Highlights on cleaning sewing machine:

  • Regular sewing machine maintenance is crucial for longevity.
  • Gather essential tools: brush, screwdriver, lint roller, oil, and Q-tips.
  • De-fluff your machine by removing accessible parts and using a vacuum or lint roller.
  • Only oil your machine if the manual recommends it, using high-quality sewing machine oil sparingly.
  • Test your machine with a trial stitch after reassembling it to ensure everything works smoothly.

How to clean a sewing machine?

How to clean a sewing machine

To clean a sewing machine, turn it off and unplug it. Remove parts like the bobbin and throat plate, clean out lint and debris, and follow your machine’s manual for oiling instructions if needed. Reassemble and test before sewing.

Here, we’ll discuss how to clean and maintain your sewing machine, what tools you need, and how often you should perform these essential tasks.

1. Gather Your Tools

Before you start cleaning your sewing machine, make sure you have the necessary tools handy. These typically include:

  • A small brush (usually included with your sewing machine).
  • A screwdriver (for removing the throat plate).
  • A lint roller or a vacuum cleaner with a small nozzle attachment.
  • Sewing machine oil (if your machine requires it).
  • Q-tips or a precision oiling pen (for oiling).

2. Turn Off and Unplug Your Machine

Safety first! Before you begin any maintenance, turn off your sewing machine and unplug it from the power source. This prevents any accidental starts while you’re working on it.

3. Prepare Your Machine for Cleaning

Prepare Your Machine for Cleaning

Begin by removing the easily accessible parts of your sewing machine. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown:

  • Remove the top plastic plate: This plate usually just clips off. Gently pry it away from the machine to access the interior.
  • Take out the bobbin: Remove the bobbin from its compartment. This is usually a straightforward process and might involve opening a small cover.
  • Remove the throat plate: The throat plate is the metal plate beneath the needle. Use your screwdriver to remove the screws securing it in place.
  • Take out the shuttle: If you have a top-loading machine, look for the shuttle. If your machine is front-loading, check the bobbin area. Take a picture of the area before you proceed to remember how it looks when you put it back together.

4. De-Fluff Your Sewing Machine

Now comes the fun part – removing all that built-up fluff and lint. Use your brush or lint roller to clean out every nook and cranny. Be thorough, and don’t forget to rotate the handwheel to access different areas. If you have an overlocker (serger), a vacuum cleaner with a nozzle attachment can be a lifesaver for getting into tight spaces.

5. Oiling Your Machine (if Needed)

Modern sewing machines are often self-lubricating and don’t require oiling. However, some older machines might need a bit of oiling to keep them running smoothly. If your machine does require oiling, follow these steps:

  • Check your sewing machine’s manual for specific instructions on where and how to oil it.
  • Use high-quality sewing machine oil; avoid using kitchen oils like vegetable oil.
  • Apply only a tiny amount of oil with a Q-tip or a precision oiling pen to metal moving parts that require lubrication.

6. Reassemble Your Machine

Carefully put all the components back in their respective places. Refer to the picture you took earlier to ensure everything aligns correctly. Attach the throat plate, reinsert the shuttle, and place the bobbin back in its compartment.

7. Testing Your Machine

Before you start sewing your next project, doing a test stitch to ensure everything is back in alignment is essential. This step ensures that you haven’t accidentally misaligned anything while cleaning.

How Often Should You Clean Your Sewing Machine?

The frequency of cleaning your sewing machine depends on how often you use it:

If you use your machine regularly (daily or several times a week), clean it at least once a week. For occasional users (once a week or less), cleaning every few weeks or once a month should suffice.

Remember that de-fluffing your machine is the most critical maintenance task. Oil your machine only if required, and always refer to your sewing machine’s manual for specific guidance.


Regular sewing machine maintenance, including cleaning and, if necessary, oiling, is vital for keeping your machine in excellent working condition.

Don’t ignore this essential task, as it can prevent sewing problems and extend the life of your sewing companion.

So, grab your tools, follow these steps, and enjoy your clean and well-maintained sewing machine for many more upcoming sewing projects!

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