Can You Use Clipper Oil On Sewing Machines


The use of oil on sewing machines is an important factor in their longevity and smooth functioning. Clipper oil has been a staple in the tailoring industry since 1883 and is widely used in leather work, as well as in house hold, industrial and agricultural applications. Clipper oil and machine oils on sewing machines are designed to lubricate and reduce friction between metal moving parts, thereby providing a smoother operation, better machine performance and increased production output. This article explores the use of clipper oil on sewing machines, looking at benefits and disadvantages, expert advice, and the types of clipper oils available.

Benefits of Clipper Oil on Sewing Machines

Oil serves a fundamental purpose in the ongoing maintenance and efficiency of a sewing machine. It helps to reduce wear and tear on metal parts, lubricates metal parts for smoother operation, keeps the machine clean, and prevents corrosion. Clipper oil is often preferred over other more industrial-grade machine oils because it is less viscous, odorless, and won’t gum up the machinery.
In addition to its effectiveness as a lubricant and cleaning agent, clipper oil is easy to use, and the cost associated with using it is minimal. Clipper oil is designed to disperse with minimal effort, and can reach tight recesses and mechanisms to facilitate wear and tear reduction.

Disadvantages of Clipper Oil on Sewing Machines

The main disadvantage of using clipper oil as a sewing machine lubricant is that it is a petroleum based product and contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Over time, these VOCs can accumulate in the air causing air pollution. Additionally, oils can attract dirt and dust, which could contaminate your fabric and compromise the overall quality of your sewing projects.
Another issue with clipper oil is that it is a petroleum-based product and won’t fully dry, which means the residue can bubble and cause machine jams. The excess oil can also migrate and create drive mechanisms for skip stitches or stitches that are too loose.

Expert Advice

According to experts, the best way to ensure the longevity of your sewing machine is to lubricate it regularly. Regular oiling ensures that your machine has adequate lubrication and reduces wear and tear on its mechanical parts. However, the use of clipper oil on sewing machines should be done in moderation; the excess oil can give your fabric the “wet-look”, or even leave it looking blotchy. Additionally, when using clipper oil, make sure to always wipe up any excess oil or spills.
Experts advise that machine owners should take the time to clean as much oil as possible from their machines after each visit to the tailor. This will prevent the accumulation of dirt, dust and excess oil that could lead to contamination of your fabric and poor machine performance.

Types of Clipper Oil Available

Clipper oils come in a variety of formulations; some are specifically designed for light duty sewing machines, others for industrial machines. The specific type of oil you should use for lubricating your individual machine will depend on its specification and the type of work you are completing.
Light duty clipper oil is suitable for all basic models of household sewing machines. This type of oil can also be used for manual and electric embroidery machines and for leatherwork. Industrial grade clipper oil is designed for more heavy-duty machines, including industrial sewing machines and quilting machines.

Storage and Handling

When it comes to storing and handling clipper oil, there are a few things you should remember. Clipper oils are flammable, so it is important to store and transport them with care, in accordance with local regulations. Make sure to store the oil away from any sources of heat, as this could cause an explosion or fire. Additionally, it is important to keep the clipper oil in its original container at all times to prevent spills or leaks.


Before applying clipper oil, always check your machine for signs of oil leakage or contamination and make sure to clean off any dirt or residue. Once you have given the area a quick clean, you can prepare your clipper oil for application. Depending on the type of oil you are using, you may need to heat it up, either with a lighter or with a heat gun. Make sure to not overheat the oil, as this could damage the machine and reduce its effectiveness.
Once the oil has reached the desired temperature, use a cloth or cotton swab to apply it to any area of the machine that needs to be lubricated. After the oil has been applied, wipe away any excess with a dry cloth. Wiping away any excess oil will help to prevent any oil and dust build up, which could lead to contamination of your fabric.

Precautions to Take

When handling and applying clipper oil, it is important to follow a few basic safety precautions. First, make sure to wear protective gloves and safety glasses to avoid any contact with the oil in case of splashes. Additionally, clipper oils are toxic, so it is important to keep them away from any food products and out of reach of children. Finally, make sure to properly dispose of any oil containers or residuals.


In conclusion, clipper oil can be an effective lubricant for sewing machines and offers benefits such as reducing wear and tear on mechanical parts, improved machine performance and increased production output. However, it is important to remember to use it in moderation, and apply it in the correct manner. Understanding the different types of clipper oils available, the benefits and disadvantages, expert advice and handling and storage instructions, are all essential to ensure you oil your sewing machine safely and correctly.

Geoffrey Kirby is an experienced author and sewist who has been creating sewn projects for over 20 years. He has a passion for teaching beginners and inspiring more advanced sewists both online and through his writings. Outside of writing about sewing, Geoffrey loves to explore new techniques and styles of sewing that incorporate upcycling fabric remnants into sweet items with personality.

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