How To Oil The Sewing Machine

Before You Start

When it comes to oiling your sewing machine, it’s essential to plan ahead. Make sure you have a clean workspace and all the right materials on hand before you start. The materials you need can vary depending on the type of machine you’re dealing with. Generally, you’ll need some oil, preferably a heavy-duty type, a small brush for applying the oil, and some rags for wiping down the machine. Additionally, take a few minutes to read your sewing machine’s manual before you begin.

Focus On Specific Areas

Generally, you should start by putting a few drops of oil along the sliding parts of your machine. This includes the needle bar and its connecting parts, the feed dog, the needle plate, and the main shaft. Make sure to avoid the exposed parts of your machine, including the tension release, electronic contacts, and the bobbin case. Once you’ve placed the oil, use the brush to spread it evenly. If you have questions, always refer back to the instructions manual of your sewing machine.

A Word Of Caution

It’s important to note that you should never use WD-40 or any other type of spray lubrication on your sewing machine. This type of lubricant is designed to be used on metal surfaces and can damage the machine if applied. Additionally, never use any type of household oil, such as olive or vegetable oil, since these can also accumulate dust, dirt, and lint, leading to clogged parts. Instead, opt for a specialty oil made for sewing machine lubrication.


Once you’re finished oiling the machine, give it a good cleaning. First, use a vacuum to removes any dust, lint, and debris. Make sure to vacuum the bobbin case, the needle plate, and any other tight spots that are difficult to get to with a brush. Next, use a damp cloth, taking care not to saturate the cloth to much as that can cause water damage to your machine. Finally, use a dry cloth to thoroughly dry the machine.

Checking The Quality Of The Oil

You should check the quality of your sewing machine oil occasionally. To do this, remove the bobbin case and check for any residue or dirt that may have built up. If there are any signs of sludge, it may be time to change up the oil. If not, you can use the same oil for up to six months.

Maintaining Your Machine

Finally, remember to maintain your machine regularly and following the recommended schedule in the manual. Oiling your machine the right way is essential to ensure it runs smoothly and efficiently. Proper maintenance will help prevent problems down the line and keep your machine in top condition.

Lubricating The Gears

To lubricate the gears of your sewing machine, refer to the instructions manual or locate a local technician who can help. Generally, you’ll need to remove the gears and clean off any debris before adding a few drops of lightweight sewing machine oil. Then, use a brush to gently spread the oil and graphite powder, which will create a lubricant that will help protect and extend the life of the gears.

Oil For Different Parts

Different parts of a sewing machine require different types of oil, so make sure to check specific instructions for each part. For instance, the motor should be lubricated with motor oil; the handwheel should be lubricated with light oil, such as light machine oil; and the needle bar should be lubricated with light-weight sewing machine oil.

Adjusting Thread Tension

In order to ensure proper thread tension, proper oiling is essential. After cleaning and oiling, adjust the thread tension as recommended in your machine’s instructions manual. As a general rule, threads should be adjusted so that tension is not too tight or too loose. A good way to check your thread tension is to pull a few inches of the thread. If you notice the thread cannot be pulled easily, the tension is too tight and should be adjusted accordingly.

Cleaning And Lubricating The Hook Race

The hook race is an important part of your sewing machine and needs regular cleaning and oiling. To begin, use canned air and a brush to remove lint and debris from inside the Race. Then, add a few drops of light oil, such as single-weight motor oil, to the hole in the race and use a brush to spread the oil evenly. Wipe off any excess with a cloth and reassemble the machine.

Tightening And Torquing

Finally, you should also pay attention to tightening and torquing. Overtightening the machine’s screws can cause them to break, so always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions when tightening them. This is particularly important if your machine is made of plastic rather than metal. In terms of torquing, use a torque wrench to avoid over-tightening.

Maintaining The Bobbin

The bobbin is another crucial part that needs regular cleaning and oiling to ensure smooth operation. First, remove and inspect the bobbin for scuff marks and dirt. If there are any, use a soft brush and some oil to clean and lubricate it. To make sure the bobbin is properly aligned, use the bobbin winder, which should be installed following the instructions in the manual.

Preventing Needle Breakage

To prevent needle breakage, inspect the needle for signs of wear and tear before each use. If the needle appears dull or bent, it should be replaced. Additionally, check the machine tension when inserting the needle. If the machine is too tight, the needle can break, so make sure it’s at the right tension for the fabric you’re using.

Adjusting The Feed Dog

The feed dog is an essential part of your sewing machine, as it’s responsible for feeding the fabric into the machine. But if it’s not adjusted correctly, problems like skipped stitches and bunching can occur. To ensure it’s adjusted properly, loosen the thumb screws and lower the feed dog. Then, lift it up and check its tension. If not adjusted correctly, readjust the screw and make sure it’s snug.

Extending The LIfe Of Your Sewing Machine

Regular oiling and cleaning are key to extending the life of your sewing machine. Check for any wear and tear and make sure to clean the machine’s exposed parts regularly. Additionally, never attempt to service your machine yourself, but instead opt for professional help from a local technician. Taking care of your machine properly will ensure it serves you for many years to come.

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.

Leave a Comment