How to Clean a Sewing Machine: A Step By Step Guide

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Sewing machine maintenance is a must if you want to extend the life of your machine. Sewing machines should be regularly cleaned and oiled (only if your machine requires it) in between professional maintenance. Luckily cleaning your sewing machine only takes a few minutes and you can easily work it into your sewing routine.

In this post, I’ll explain step by step how to clean your sewing machine and share some helpful tips to make sure you’re properly taking care of your sewing machine.

How to Clean a Sewing Machine

Step 1: Turn off and unplug your sewing machine. This will prevent shocks and accidentally moving your needle while you’re cleaning your machine.

Step 2: Unthread the top thread of your sewing machine and wipe down the outside of your machine with a cloth. Work from top to bottom so the dust and lint will fall down as you clean.

Step 3: Remove the needle from your sewing machine. Now is a great time to change your sewing machine needle. If you can’t remember the last time you changed your needle, change it now. Also, remove the presser foot.

Step 4: Remove the needle plate from your sewing machine. Refer to your sewing machine user manual to learn how to remove it. Your sewing machine should have come with a screwdriver or tool to unscrew the needle plate, if necessary. After you remove the screws, place them in a secure location so you don’t lose them.

Step 5: Use the lint brush your sewing machine came with to remove any lint from inside the machine. If you don’t have a lint brush, you can use a small clean makeup brush or paintbrush instead.

Step 6: Remove the bobbin case and use the lint brush to remove all of the lint and dust. Do not blow the dust out of the machine, because that could further push the dust into the machine.

Step 7: Reassemble your sewing machine by reinserting the bobbin case and screwing the needle plate back on. Re-attach your needle and presser foot. Re-thread your machine and you’re ready to start sewing again.

How Often Should You Clean Your Sewing Machine?

Overall, how often you clean your sewing machine will depend on how often you use it. If you sew daily, you will want to clean your sewing machine on a weekly basis. If you sew on the weekends, cleaning your machine once a month is a good timeframe.

If you often forget to clean your machine, you could keep your lint brush nearby and make a habit of quickly removing the lint each time you change your bobbin.

There are no hard and fast rules for cleaning your sewing machine, but keeping it lint-free will help it run at its highest level. Try to create some sort of cleaning schedule to help maintain your machine and extend its life.

Can I Use Canned Air To Clean My Sewing Machine?

Canned air is not recommended when cleaning your sewing machine. It may sound like a fast and easy way to blast the built-up dust and lint, but it actually can do more damage than you might think.

Compressed air can force the lint into places it doesn’t belong and in turn, cause issues with the inner mechanics of the machine. Compressed air also contains moisture, and the moisture can lead to rust and damage to the machine.

If you don’t want to manually clean your machine, you could use a small vacuum or take it to get cleaned by a professional.

How Do I Clean the Outside of a Sewing Machine?

We often focus solely on cleaning the inside of the sewing machine and forget about the outside. If you store your sewing machine uncovered, you will find that dust and lint builds up and will need to be wiped down. I love to use a microfiber cloth to clean my machine, but any cloth will do. Wipe down the machine from the top to the bottom to help catch all of the dust and lint.

Do not use any cleaning agents on your machine, because the harsh chemicals could damage the metal and plastic. If there’s a stain that you need to remove, try dish soap and a damp cloth. Remember to unplug your machine before you clean it and be careful to only use the damp cloth on the outside of the machine, nowhere near any of the mechanics of the machine.

To help hinder the buildup of lint and dust, cover your sewing machine when it’s not in use. You can purchase a sewing machine cover or make your own. I love this hardshell sewing machine cover by Singer. If you want to DIY your cover, check out this tutorial.

How Do I Clean My Sewing Machine Foot Pedal?

An often neglected part of the sewing machine, the foot pedal, needs regular cleaning, too! How often you clean your foot pedal will depend on several things, like whether or not you wear shoes while you sew and how you store the pedal when it is not in use.

To clean the foot pedal, use a cloth to wipe off any dust. If there is dirt or grime that doesn’t come off with a dry rag, use a damp rag and a small amount of dish soap, if necessary.

Remember to unplug your foot pedal before you clean it and take care to keep the cord dry. Do not use any harsh cleaning agents on the foot pedal because they could damage the pedal.

Should I Oil My Sewing Machine?

Your sewing machine manual will let you know if your machine needs to be oiled. Only oil your sewing machine if the manufacturer recommends it. If your machine needs oiling, it likely came with a bottle of oil. If you are unable to locate your sewing machine user manual, try to search for it online. Most manuals are available online from the manufacturer.

How Often Should I Oil My Sewing Machine?

How often you oil your sewing machine will depend on how often you use your sewing machine. If you sew daily, you will need to oil your sewing machine once or twice a week. If you sew on the weekends, you may only need to oil your sewing machine once or twice a month.

Refer to your sewing machine’s user manual to see how often they recommend you oil your machine and where to insert the oil. Not all sewing machines require oil, so it’s important to review the user manual before you oil your machine.

Over oiling your machine can lead to the oil leaking onto your fabric. If you suspect you’ve over oiled your machine, use a rag to soak up the excess oil and sew with scrap fabric until you are sure that the machine is no longer transferring oil to your fabric.

While we all want to spend more time sewing and less time cleaning, cleaning your sewing machine is a necessary part of maintaining the health and longevity of your machine. The more often you clean it, the longer it will last! With this tutorial, you’ll now be able to clean your sewing machine with confidence.

Now that your machine is clean, do you need a new project? Check out my FREE Charming Sawtooth quilt pattern. The free quilt pattern uses one charm pack and one yard of fabric to create a fun star-shaped quilt that comes together quickly.

xo, Hailey

Other Posts You May Like:
6 Troubleshooting Tips to Fix your Sewing Machine
How to Wind and Insert a Bobbin
How to Thread a Sewing Machine


  1. I am an addicted quilter, diddle with cross stitch and knitting but my great love is quilting
    Belong to a quilt group that does a lot of charities work so I keep pretty busy
    Thanks for the welcome

  2. I am a fairly new quilter and lover of sewing projects. I have done lots of cross stitch over the years but not much recently. Thank you for the welcome.

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