The best way to avoid wear and tear on your sewing machine is regular maintenance, which means carefully cleaning and oiling it. Cleaning is probably a familiar task for most sewists, but when’s the last time you oiled your sewing machine? If you’re new to the process, here’s what you need to know.
Do You Need to Oil Your Sewing Machine?
For most machines, the answer is “yes!” Oiling is a basic part of regular sewing machine maintenance. However, some machines, especially multi-function and computerized ones, like those used for embroidery, are too complex. The mechanisms that need to be oiled can not be accessed as part of a regular cleaning routine, so they will need to be maintained by professionals. Check your owner’s manual to see if you’re safe to oil your machine.
When Should You Oil Your Machine?
If you’re sewing regularly each week, you should oil your machine at least once a month. For industrial machines, the rule of thumb is every eight hours of sewing, but domestic machines can go a bit longer. Oil your sewing machine only after giving it a thorough cleaning. Oil plus dust creates a sticky mess that can build up and damage your thread, fabric, or even the machine itself.
What Kind of Oil Should You Use?
Sewing machine oil is specially designed to be lightweight and transparent, not leaving any stains or causing residue to build up in your machine. Even oils designed for other delicate mechanisms, such as gun oil, can cause staining or build up. Never use food grade oils, as these can cause all kinds of problems, from gumming up your machine to staining your fabric to leaving rancid smells. When it comes to sewing machine oil, always stick to the real deal!
How Much Oil is Needed?
Less than you’d think. Even if you’re regularly oiling your sewing machine, a tiny bottle of sewing machine oil will last you for months or even years. When in doubt, always start with a tiny amount and add more in the smallest increments you can manage. It’s easy to add more, but tricky to remove it.
Where Do I Apply the Oil?
This depends on the needs of your specific sewing machine. Oil your machine only at the points recommended by the manufacturer. Adding oil in other places can invalidate your warranty, cause oil to leak out onto your sewing while you work. If your owner’s manual isn’t clear about where to apply oil, take your machine into a dealer or repair shop and ask them to show you how to do it.
These tips and tricks should give you an idea of how to use sewing machine oil to keep your machine in tip-top shape. With regular maintenance, it will be ready for sewing adventures for years to come!
How to Oil Your Sewing Machine: Video Instruction