How to Properly Take Care of Your Sewing Machine

Keeping your sewing machine in top shape is essential for its durability and performance. This in-depth guide offers professional tips on maintaining your sewing machine, incorporating key practices for routine care, and troubleshooting common problems. Following these recommendations can improve your machine’s longevity and ensure it functions seamlessly for your sewing endeavors.

Key Takeaways

  • Cover Your Machine: Always keep your sewing machine covered with a dust cover or hard case to protect it from dust and debris, which can affect its performance.
  • Change Needles Regularly: To ensure the best stitching quality and prevent fabric damage, replace sewing machine needles after each project or every 8 hours.
  • Annual Professional Servicing: Regardless of the sewing machine’s cost, annual professional servicing is crucial for adjusting timing, tension, and cleaning areas that are difficult for the user to reach.
  • Oiling Is Essential: To keep internal mechanisms running smoothly, regularly oil your sewing machine with high-quality sewing machine oil according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Utilize Compressed Air for Cleaning: Use compressed air to remove lint from critical areas such as the feed dogs, bobbin area, and tension discs, ensuring the machine is kept at least 4 inches away to avoid moisture introduction.
  • Clean One Part at a Time: When cleaning your sewing machine, disassemble and clean one part at a time to ensure thorough cleaning and prevent reassembly confusion.
  • Use Proper Accessories: Employing the correct accessories and attachments for your sewing machine model enhances performance and prevents potential damage.
  • Select High-Quality Thread: Using new, high-quality thread reduces lint build-up inside the machine, decreasing the frequency of cleaning needed.
  • Safety First – Unplug Before Cleaning: Always unplug your sewing machine before starting any cleaning or maintenance work to ensure your safety.
  • Consult the Manual: Refer to your sewing machine’s manual for specific maintenance and troubleshooting instructions. This is crucial for applying the correct oiling techniques, changing needles, and understanding when professional servicing is needed.

Keep Your Sewing Machine Covered

If you want your sewing machine to run smoothly, it needs to be stored properly. If you don’t take care of it, it could break down sooner rather than later. A dust cover protects your machine from dirt while keeping out pesky insects like spiders and ants. You can find one online or in most big box stores.

Martha Stewart recommends using new and high-quality thread whenever you sew to prevent interior lint buildup on your machine. This way, you won’t have to worry about tangled-up threads. And since you’re probably buying new threads anyway, why not buy some extra? Store your machine away where it gets dusty, such as underneath a bed, table, or chair.

Unplugging your machine occasionally is the best way to keep it running smoothly. This keeps the motor cool, which helps extend its life. Cleaning the machine inside isn’t just good maintenance; it’ll ensure everything works correctly. Use a soft cloth to wipe off the outside of your machine, including the bobbin case. Then, use a dry cloth to wipe down the rest of the machine. Be careful not to let water drip into the mechanism.

Change Needles Regularly

Needle maintenance is vital because it helps keep your sewing machine running smoothly. If you don’t regularly clean out the thread catcher, you could have lint buildup inside the machine. This can cause problems like skipping stitches, pulling threads, and broken needles.

Experts recommend changing your needle every 8 hours or every time the project is completed. To do this, remove the cover plate over the needle bar and pull the needle out. Then, turn the machine upside down and shake the old syringe onto a paper towel. Next, put the needle into the slot where you want to replace it and push it home. Finally, reattach the cover plate and tighten the screws.

You may also need to change the needle to match the weight of the fabric you are working with. For example, if you’re making a quilt, use a heavier-weight needle; if you’re making a dress, use a lighter-weight one.

Change Needles Regularly

Machine Care Tips

Keep Your Machine Covered

Protecting your sewing machine from dust and debris is fundamental. When the machine is not in use, utilize a dust cover or hard case to prevent the accumulation of lint and dust, which can impair its functionality.

Regular Needle Replacement

The condition of the needles is paramount for flawless stitching. Dull or damaged needles can cause fabric damage, skipped stitches, and other issues. Replace your needles regularly, ideally after completing a project or every 8 hours of use, to maintain optimal performance.

Sewing Machine Maintenance

Annual Service

Annual servicing by a professional is essential, regardless of your machine’s model or cost. This ensures that timing, tension adjustments, and thoroughly cleaning hard-to-reach areas are adequately addressed.

Oiling the Machine

Proper lubrication keeps the internal mechanisms running smoothly. Use only high-quality sewing machine oil, applying a few drops to the designated parts as recommended by your sewing machine manual.

Detailed Cleaning Techniques

Using Compressed Air for Lint Removal

After finishing your sewing projects, cleaning the machine thoroughly is crucial. Compressed air can effectively remove lint from the feed dogs, bobbin area, and tension discs. Keep the canister at least 4 inches away to avoid moisture damage.

Cleaning Machine Parts Individually

When cleaning your sewing machine, tackle one part at a time. This approach ensures thorough cleaning and avoids confusion during reassembly.

Equipment Care Guidelines

Proper Accessories Use

Using the correct accessories and attachments designed for your sewing machine model enhances performance and prevents damage.

High-Quality Thread Usage

Opt for new, high-quality thread to minimize lint build-up within the machine, thus reducing the need for frequent cleaning.

Unplug Before Cleaning

Safety first—always unplug your sewing machine before starting any cleaning or maintenance work to prevent accidents.

How to Properly Take Care of Your Sewing Machine FAQs

How often should I oil my sewing machine?

Refer to your sewing machine manual for specific guidelines, but oiling after every project or after extensive use is generally a good practice.

Can I use household oil on my sewing machine?

No, only use oil specifically designed for sewing machines to avoid damaging the internal components.

What should I do if my sewing machine starts skipping stitches?

First, try changing the needle and rethreading the machine. If the problem persists, consult the manual or seek professional servicing.


Maintaining your sewing machine through regular care, cleaning, and servicing is essential for its longevity and performance. This guide has outlined key practices and tips to help you keep your machine in top condition, ensuring it serves you well for all your sewing projects.

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