One of the most dreaded (but necessary) tasks in your sewing space is sewing machine maintenance. In this guide, we will walk you through how to clean your sewing machine, ensuring you and your most valuable sewing tool will have a long and happy life together. Generally speaking, lint = bad and clean = good. Let's dig into it!
Cleaning your machine is something you should be doing on a regular basis, depending on how frequently you're using your machine. It only takes a few moments, and will save you loads of money getting it repaired down the road! Of course, we recommend reading your machine manual to see the ins and out of cleaning and maintaining your particular sewing machine as each make and model will have different access points and recommended steps. WIth that said, here's a general guide.
Supplies You'll Need
- Soft brush
- Compressed air (you can buy compressed air in a can, but we are intrigued by this electronic duster + mini vacuum!)
- Damp cloth
- Sewing machine oil
Step 1: Power Down and Remove Thread and Needle
Safety is our guiding principle, sewists! Power down your sewing machine and unplug it from the electrical outlet. Remove the needle and the spool of thread, giving yourself clear access to every nook and cranny. Make sure you have a bright light (ideally one you can position) so you can see well.
Step 2: Surface Clean
Begin with the exterior of your machine. Use a soft brush or a lint brush to sweep away any dust or lint that may have settled on the surface. Pay attention to the crevices and corners where lint can accumulate. Wipe down your machine's case with a damp cloth. You can use a Q-tip soaked in alcohol or dish soap to remove any sticky residues, scuff marks etc. If your machine has a screen like our fancy Pfaff, use a screen cleaner or lens cloth to remove fingerprints and grease.
Step 3: Clean the Bobbin Case
Dismantle the bobbin case and remove any visible lint or thread snarls. A compressed air canister is a trusty sidekick for blowing away hidden lint from tight spaces. Be gentle to avoid damaging delicate components. This is a good time to check the tension on your bobbin. Ideally, it will dangle from the thread but also move easily when pulled. If you have full access to your machine's interior you can also use try using a vacuum to suck up any stray lint - be careful here though! You don't want the powerful suction to shift any machine parts!
Step 4: Oil Your Machine
Just like we moisturize our skin, our sewing machines crave a bit of moisture to keep their gears running smoothly. Consult your machine's manual for specific oiling instructions and locations (note: not all models will recommend this step). Apply a small amount of sewing machine oil to designated points, ensuring a seamless, friction-free operation. Make sure to use a high-quality oil designed especially for this purpose.
Step 5: Inspect Your Needle Plate
Remove the needle plate and clean it underneath, removing any lint or stray threads. A screwdriver may be needed for this step, so be sure to keep a small container handy for safely storing screws. A vacuum on the lightest setting with a brush attachment is good for pulling lint and threads to the surface.
Step 6: Stitch Selector and Tension Check
Inspect the stitch selector and tension mechanisms. Ensure they move freely without any resistance. If you notice any stiffness, a small drop of sewing machine oil can work wonders.
Step 7: Final Clean Up
A vacuum on the lightest setting with a brush attachment is the perfect thing to clean up your space and get rid of the thread and lint you've no doubt scattered all over your sewing table.
There! You're all done. Now that your machine has had its bath and is ready for bed consider making it a new set of pajamas with our free sewing machine cover patterns! Not only do these machine covers keep the dust off your machines but they also freshen up your sewing space and help make use of any square yards of fabric you have laying around!
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