How To Service a Sewing Machine

To keep any device running in great condition, you need to make sure it’s regularly cleaned, and well-maintained. Despite this, a lot of people forget to take the right care of their sewing machines. Your sewing machine is just like any other mechanical device. Ideally, you’d clean and oil it regularly to keep it working properly.

Knowing how to service a sewing machine correctly can save you a fortune in repairs. It can also ensure that your machine continues to work properly for years to come.

Here’s what you need to know about maintaining your sewing machine.

How Do You Maintain and Clean a Sewing Machine?

Often, the most significant job in servicing a sewing machine is getting it clean and well-oiled.

When you make sure that you clean the various moving parts of your sewing machine correctly, you’re less likely to have problems with fluff trapped in the needle plate or broken thread. Older machines can be more difficult to clean than modern ones. It’s worth checking the cleaning instructions provided with most machines before you get started.

The manufacturer that you bought your sewing machines from should be able to give you a basic guide on how to care for your machine. You can also view video tutorials that tell you how to complete the service yourself. If you can’t find this, consider reaching out to a professional who specialises in cleaning sewing machines.

Remove Dust and Fluff

If you feel confident cleaning your sewing machine yourself, start by unplugging your machine to prepare it for cleaning. You’ll also need to remove the throat plate or needle plate, which is where dust and fibres tend to gather. Then, follow these steps to ensure you are thorough in your cleaning.

• Use a small brush to remove thread and fabric lint that has built up from your stitches. You can usually find this brush included as standard, along with your seam ripper. If you don’t get one of these with your sewing machine, you can order one in the post.

• Get as far into the sewing machine mechanism as you can with your brush. Try to do this without exposing yourself to dangerous things like needles and sharp metal. Clean out the area as much as you can. You can even use compressed air to clean deeper within the mechanism if you’re worried about the amount of dust in there.

• Keep brushing and removing the collected lint and fluff until you are confident it’s all gone. When you’ve rid your machine of all the fluff, you can move on to the next stage of sewing machine care.

Oil Your Sewing Machine

A sewing machine technician that provides a service to your machine will often say that a top tip is to oil your sewing machine regularly. Oiling your machine is important for long-term care and sewing machine maintenance. Inside your device, you’ll find various gears and mechanical components that make your sewing machine work. These moving components and pieces need to be well oiled, so the mechanism doesn’t just seize up.

Again, you should be able to find a guide or manual that tells you how to oil your model. If you can’t find any information online, then you might need to speak to a professional to ensure you don’t cause any damage by using the wrong oil or oiling the wrong parts.

Usually, servicing your machine with oil involves removing the outer plastic cover of your sewing machine to expose the components within. All you need to do after that is to add a few drops of the sewing machine oil into the system and then run the device at top speed. Don’t allow anything to go too close to the moving parts and stitch plate when you’re doing this step of your sewing machine service. Keep your hands away from the moving parts too.

Can I Use WD40 Instead of Sewing Machine Oil?

One of the more complicated parts of sewing machine maintenance is often finding the right oil to use. If you have more trouble than most with finding the right solution, you can find special companies that will deliver custom sewing machine oil by post. The only time you should ever use a substitute is in an emergency. However, you should never use WD40 in this case.

The WD in WD40 means water displacement, and it doesn’t lubricate the interior of mechanical devices well at all.

What Else Is Involved in a Sewing Machine Service?

Servicing sewing machines is a little like taking your car for an MOT. The process involves a thorough check of the inside of your sewing machines if you decide to get the help of a professional. Experts can check that everything in your machine is working as it should be. They can examine the bobbin case and presser foot. They can also ensure that all your zigzag and pattern stitches are in place.

Sewing machine servicing also usually involves things like checking the bobbin winder, adjusting the handwheel, and extra thorough cleaning. The result is usually a reduced risk of skipped stitches, fewer problems with lint build-up and longer life for your sewing machine.

After properly cleaning your sewing machines, professionals can check the components to determine whether any parts need to be replaced or repaired. Remember, something as simple as a build-up of lint in your sewing machine can mean that the needle bar and zig-zag stitch pattern don’t work properly. If you have an issue with trapped threads, then your technician might need to remove the bobbin case and repair the bobbin winder to stop the machine from running too tight.

A lack of oil can also prevent your machine from running correctly, prompting more problems with your thread path and causing your needle tip to wear down faster.

Common Checks for a Machine Service

If you take your sewing machine for a thorough check and service, then the professional or technician will usually start by checking the bobbin case, presser foot, and machine function after thoroughly cleaning and oiling the machine. Tension, timing and function can also be checked. Let’s discuss them in detail.


Your technician will look at the thread tension and the tension disks in your machine to reduce the risk of skipped stitches and determine whether the needle is pulled too far in one direction. If the machine has been jarred in some way, or you’ve caught a pin with the needle, then some repairs may be necessary to ensure that the device can work as it should. Any problems with tension need to be corrected quickly, as they can also increase the chance of damaging your bobbins in the future.


Aside from good tension, sewing machines also rely on good timing. When you search for a good sewing machine, you’re looking for something that can help you to transform fabric and thread into beautiful creations as quickly as possible. The sewing machine needle and the shuttle hook need to come together at the same time and place for a sewing machine to work at all. If there’s a problem with the timing, your top needle could be hitting air. Timing problems can be caused by a range of factors. Your technician will tell you if your machine needs repair.


Full service for your sewing machine doesn’t just mean looking at the bobbin case and stitch plate. After checking thread tension and removing lint, your technician will check that everything is working as it should be. Checking the function means looking at all the different types of stitching you can do with your machine. If there was previously a problem with the thread tension, excess lint, or another thing that’s been stopping your device from working properly, this problem should be gone by the function check. If problems persist, your technician may be able to give some tips on what to do next.

How Often Should a Sewing Machine Be Serviced?

Regular servicing is the key to a long life for your machine.

In general, you should clean out the bobbin area and remove dust from your sewing machine regularly. For instance, if you work on fabric with your sewing machine every day, you should clean it every week or so. If you only use it occasionally, you might be able to wait a bit longer.

Oil your sewing machine every time you clean it to keep it working more consistently. If you need more advice on which oil to use or how to clean the bobbin and interior area, search online for guidance from the manufacturer.

A yearly service will prevent any more expensive problems from emerging over time. Think of it like getting a yearly health check-up for your sewing machine. Remember to replace any thread and needles when you clean and service your machine as necessary too.

A Stitch in Time

Even if you do not do it yourself, knowing how to service a sewing machine is important to understand how your machine works and how to increase its longevity. Additionally, it is important to never try to fix your machine if you are unsure, as you could do more damage than good.

We hope you have learned a lot and feel confident doing some basic cleaning on your machine now.

Let us know if you have any handy tips or tricks about using a sewing machine, we would love to hear them.

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