How Often Should I Oil My Sewing Machine


Having a regular maintenance schedule to keep your sewing machine in good condition is essential to ensure optimal performance and prevent expensive repairs in the future. One of the most essential yet overlooked aspects of a regular maintenance schedule is oiling the sewing machine. The question then becomes, ‘How often should I oil my sewing machine?’

Maintenance Tips

The truth is it depends on many factors such as the type of sewing machine, type of oil used, and the frequency of use. Generally, the frequency of oiling depends on the model of the machine – some highly automated machines may need oiling more often than most others. The type of oil used also plays an important role. Sewers who use silicone-based lubricants need to oil their machines every six months or less while petroleum-based lubricants can be used every three months.

Frequency of use should also be taken into consideration. For hobbyists who rarely use the machine, it is important to oil it at least twice a year, either at the start or the end of the winter season. For frequent sewers, it may require oiling more often than that, up to four times a year.

Most people oil the machine after noticing buildup of threads, dust and dirt. However, experts recommend oiling the machine even if there is no visible buildup or accumulations as it helps to ensure smooth operation. To make maintenance easier, many sewing machines come with indicator lights that light up when it needs to be oiled.

The Benefits

Regular oiling of the machine has numerous benefits. It helps prolong the life of the machine by minimizing wear and tear. It also keeps the internal parts well-lubricated and prevents them from becoming stuck or seized. Furthermore, it reduces noise and vibration, making the machine easier to handle. Additionally, it helps to ensure smooth operation, eliminating the risk of stitches being pulled up when working.

The Process

Before oiling, make sure to unplug the machine and clean the outside. It also helps to check the manufacturer’s instructions as different models may require different lubricating methods. Once the machine is unplugged and cleaned, find an appropriate location to oil the machine. Note that it’s important to oil the correct parts of the machine as some oiling areas may require special attention.

For most machines, oil should be carefully applied to the bobbin area, feed dogs (feed teeth), needle bar and stitch plates. Oiling the walking foot, pressure regulator, and other components such as hooks and shuttle cases may also be necessary. If unsure, consult with a professional or the instruction manual.

Once the oil has been applied to the machine, use a small brush to spread it across all parts evenly. Let the machine idle for a few minutes, then wipe any excess oil with a dry, lint-free cloth. Make sure to remove all excess oil before plugging the machine back in, as oil that seeps into the electric components may cause a short circuit.

How to Troubleshoot Common Issues

If the machine starts acting up even after oiling, it’s important to figure out the source of the problem. This may require disassembling the machine and examining the internal components. Common issues that arise include a sticking bobbin, skipped stitches, and uneven tension.

For a sticking bobbin, it usually means that the bobbin area is clogged with lint or debris. Clean the area with a brush and lint remover, then make sure to replace the bobbin case and thread correctly. For skipped stitches, the cause could be a bent needle, improper threading of the machine, or a broken needle plate. Make sure to replace the needle if it’s bent, and check the threading. Also examine the needle plate for any signs of damage as a broken or worn needle plate may cause skipped stitches.

Uneven tension may be caused by improper threading of the machine. Make sure the thread is threaded correctly according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and then examine the tension discs for any visible damage. If the problem persists, it might be a good idea to take the machine to a professional for servicing.

Oil For Sewing Machines

When purchasing oil for sewing machines, make sure to choose a reliable brand to ensure the best results. Different oils have different viscosity, meaning some may be thinner or thicker than others. The type of oil used also affects the performance of the machine; an improper oil can cause jams and increase the risk of damage. It’s important to pay attention to the recommended oil for your particular machine, as different models have different needs. Additionally, be aware of any expiration dates on the oil, as some oils may have a short shelf life.

Understand Your Sewing Machine

In order to get the best results, it’s important to understand the features and functions of your sewing machine. Carefully read the manual and familiarize yourself with the parts and settings of the machine. If possible, seek help from a professional or experienced sewing enthusiast to get a better idea of how to use your machine.


Knowing how often to oil your sewing machine can ensure optimal performance and avoid expensive repairs down the road. It’s important to oil the machine regularly, according to the type of oil, type of machine, and frequency of use. It’s also essential to understand the features and functions of your specific model to get the best results. Regular oiling also helps to ensure smooth operation, eliminate noise and vibration, and prolong the life of the machine. With the right oil and maintenance schedule, your sewing machine can last for many years.

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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