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Preventive Sewing-Machine Maintenance

With some simple tools and just a few minutes daily, weekly, or monthly— depending on how much youre sewing— you can help keep your machine running smoothly.
With some simple tools and just a few minutes daily, weekly, or monthly— depending on how much youre sewing— you can help keep your machine running smoothly.

With some simple tools and just a few minutes daily, weekly, or monthly— depending on how much you're sewing— you can help keep your machine running smoothly.


Regular cleaning is essential
Get in the habit of cleaning your machine after each project. Follow the instructions in your manual, or ask your machine mechanic to show you how. Basically, a routine cleaning can be accomplished quickly and easily if you follow these steps:

Cleaning between disks
  Fold a piece of muslin in half, and use the folded edge to clean between tension disks.

Start at the top and clean the tension disks with a folded piece of fine muslin. Be sure the presser foot is up, so the tension springs are loose and the muslin can move easily between the disks, dislodging any lint or fuzz. Use a can of compressed air, blowing from back to front, to remove loose particles from around the tension disks and to clean other areas inside the machine. Don't blow into your machine yourself because breath contains moisture and will eventually cause corrosion.

Get into the habit of removing the machine's needle and throwing it away after completing a project. Then take out the throat plate, bobbin, bobbin case, and hook race if this applies to your machine (new computerized machines do not have removable hooks). Clean under the feed dogs and around the bobbin area with a small brush, and use the compressed air to blow out any lint from inside of the bobbin case. If the hook mechanism is removable, wipe it clean with a dot of oil on a piece of muslin, and give it an additional small drop of oil before returning it to the machine. Use a light oil recommended for sewing machines; do not use three-in-one oil. Check with your manual regarding any other areas on your machine that may require oiling, and use only a small drop for each spot. It is always better to oil too little more often than too much at one time, and avoid oiling any plastic parts.

Cleaning inside bobbin case Cleaning race hook
Don't forget to clean inside the bobbin case. Using compressed air, which has a straw (shown in red above) to direct air to a desired spot, blow out lint and loose threads.   Use a soft piece of muslin with a dot of sewing machine oil to clean the race hook. If the hook is removable, place a drop of oil on it before returning it to the machine.


You can easily do this routine by yourself, but I also recommend a check-up by your dealer or an authorized mechanic every two years. Your machine will give you years of service if you take the time to care for it properly.

Sally Hickerson is the owner of Waechter's Silk Shop in Asheville, N.C. (www.waechters.com), and is an authorized sewing-machine mechanic.

Photos: David Page Coffin

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Comments (6)

Limerick1978 Limerick1978 writes: My husband is a certified sewing machine technician, and I am a dealer. Never, ever use a can of compressed air to blow out your machine! They also contain moisture which will cause rust, plus you're blowing the lint deeper into the mechanics of the machine. Use a vacuum with a small attachment.
Posted: 9:28 am on July 26th

Limerick1978 Limerick1978 writes: My husband is a certified sewing machine technician, and I am a dealer. Never, ever use a can of compressed air to blow out your machine! They also contain moisture which will cause rust, plus you're blowing the lint deeper into the mechanics of the machine. Use a vacuum with a small attachment.
Posted: 9:28 am on July 26th

user-2418800 user-2418800 writes: My mother insisted that I clean her machine after every project. Now, more that 45 years later I still have that habit and I'm passing this routine on to my daughter and granddaughters. I rarely ever have a problem with any of my machines.I have 4 and some of them are quite old! It doesn't take much time to do a through cleaning after each and EVERY project and it will really keep your machine humming :)
Posted: 12:17 pm on August 12th

Eiei Eiei writes: I had same troubles with my singer.....first thing I did was look on google for the manual....put in the brand and model manual....singer quantum x1000 manual......or write the company for it.....,you'll need it for other things anyway....I did find it and made a copy... Next I took it to a Good sewing machine repair person....mine was cutting threads from the bobbin side and I could not figure it out....he cleaned it and gave it a good check up....rough edge on my bobbin was cutting the thread, I had broke a needle and it roughed up the bobbin casing... Hope that helps...my machine has never ran so good...
Posted: 7:19 am on March 20th

ldedo1 ldedo1 writes: I have a singer quantum xl000 embroidery sewing machine
I am new to machine embroidery and without the manual- the machine was a gift- I have no idea how to connect sections-
can this machine use digitized patterns downloadable from the internet.
I have trouble with thread breakage with sewing and I was wondering if I should purchase a machine for embroidery only
I dont see tto many readers using singer machines. Are there any recommendations for ease to use and software upgrades?

Posted: 2:27 pm on January 9th

ldedo1 ldedo1 writes: I have a singer quantum xl000 embroidery sewing machine
I am new to machine embroidery and without the manual- the machine was a gift- I have no idea how to connect sections-
can this machine use digitized patterns downloadable from the internet.
I have trouble with thread breakage with sewing and I was wondering if I should purchase a machine for embroidery only
I dont see tto many readers using singer machines. Are there any recommendations for ease to use and software upgrades?

Posted: 2:27 pm on January 9th

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