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Learn How To Clean Your Sewing Machine!

Your Sewing Machine Will Thank You!

by Beth Cooper

Great globs of thread, Batman!  Is it time to clean the sewing machine again?  Around here, it’s always time to clean the sewing machine.  But… I LOVE THAT CHORE!

Years ago, when I started sewing, I had no idea how often I should clean out my machine and to be really honest about it:  the thought terrified me!  I was so worried that I would screw something up when I opened up the machine to clean it.  It didn’t take me long to realize that it’s not scary at all. News flash:  it is actually very easy! 

In fact, these days I clean it probably more than ever.  I find it satisfying to unscrew the needle plate, take a peek inside, and then pull out a chunk or two of fuzz.  (Let’s be honest.  Most likely, there’s way more than two!)  Sometimes I even take pictures of the pile of fuzz I removed from the machine to share with my quilting friends.  They get it.  We all EWWW! and ahh together. (Dr. Pimple Popper ain’t got nothin’ on my fuzz pile.)

These little brushes are the bomb-diggity! They are perfect for getting into hard-to-reach crevices of your machine.

How Often Should You Clean Your Machine?

Each brand of sewing machine comes with different guidelines.  Some say to clean the machine after each project.  Some say after 3-5 bobbins.  Some machines come with instructions on how to oil the machine.  Some machines do not need to be oiled.  So, please, refer to your owner’s manual on how often to clean it out and whether or not you should oil the machine.  If you don’t have a manual, reach out to a local sewing machine repair shop.  They can also advise you on how often to have your machine serviced, as well. 

Does Thread Matter?

I have found that certain brands of thread require me to clean my machine more often.  If you are using 100% cotton thread, you will have more lint.  Don’t let that scare you away from cotton thread, though! There is no right or wrong thread to use!  I use cotton thread frequently.  I just have to remember to clean out the bobbin area more often. 

How To Clean Your Machine

Again, each machine is different and it is difficult to tell you exactly how to clean your machine.  A general rule-of-thumb is to take out your bobbin, as well as your bobbin case.  Use a small brush to clean the area.  You can also unscrew your needle plate and dust under there, as well. 

This is one of my favorite cleaning brushes to use on my sewing machine.

5 Things to Remember:

  1. Never try to move anything inside the machine.  Just dust around the parts.
  2. Instructions always say to power off your machine when cleaning it.  I never do this.  (Shhh. Don’t tell the sewing machine police!)  I really need the light from the sewing machine to see down into the bobbin area.  If I power the machine off, I wouldn’t have a light, of course.  I simply just remove the needle and the foot.  Then I do not need to worry about accidental injury.
  3. Never use canned air to blow the dust out of your machine.  This is a terrible idea because most likely, the dust will not leave the machine, but rather get blown further into the machine and into the gears and motor.
  4. Consider checking the Youtube page of your sewing machine manufacturer for more information on properly caring for your machine. There are so many variations on this, that is is simply best to research your specific machine.
  5. I promise, after a good cleaning, your sewing machine will run better, smoother, and quieter. It is worth the time to clean it. Plus you will get simultaneously grossed out by and completely satisfied each time you pull a clump of fuzz out of that bobbin area.! Have fun!

‘Til next time,


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1 year ago

clean and OIL where nessary and not just the bobbin the shaft that goes up and down has areas that sometimes need oil happy sewing

1 year ago

Thanks for the great advice, Beth. That is exactly the way I take care of my machine.
Great minds think alike!

Eve Braun
Eve Braun
1 year ago

I use a pipe cleaner like piece of fuzzy “Chenille Stems” and using my beading pliers I turn the metal wire back and flatten it to keep the sharp end away from the end of the stem. or I double it back and use it folded to reach inside around and behind the bobbin holder to pick up lint and pull it out, clean the end of the stem and go back. Even running it around the left side under the top of the machine insides brings some lint out. never pushing lint in but always pulling it out. no brush sweeping anything around. also I run it around the bobbin case where some lint can be.

Vicki Webster
Vicki Webster
1 year ago

I love the new “Nancy’s Notions” website. It was very sad when Nancy passed away which left some of us dangling and wondering. I must say what you are doing is awesome and I think Nancy would be happy with what you are doing. I still watch her program “Sewing with Nancy” when I can find it.
Thank you,

1 year ago
Reply to  Vicki Webster

I believe you can see Sewing with Nancy on YouTube.

Walker Smith
Walker Smith
1 year ago

I agree with Vicki. Thank you for starting again.

Mary Hutto
1 year ago

It’s always wise to periodically review the basics. Thanks for the lesson! Your machine will work so much better after a good cleaning.

2 months ago

Canned air has aerosols to get the air out of the can. These aerosols are chemicals that can adhere to sewing machine parts – it may harm some plastic parts and lint will adhere to the chemical residue making it harder to remove.

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