How To Oil Your Sewing Machine

Lubrication Basics

Sewing machines are composed of many intricate parts and require periodic lubrication for optimal performance. Proper lubrication enables the parts to move smoothly and reduces friction.

Proper oiling of a sewing machine is necessary for wear prevention, performance efficiency and to reduce noise levels. If the machine is not aged, it should be lubricated every other month. However, if the machine is pushed to its limit or used often, it will need to be oiled every month.

Since every machine works differently, it is important to read the instruction manual carefully and follow the steps as advised. It is also important to use the right sort of oils. Sewing machine manufacturers usually list in the manual what type of oil to use. It is best to use a low viscosity machine oil such as 3-in-1 or SAE 30 oil.


It is important to prepare the sewing machine and the environment before beginning to oil the machine. Push the needle up and down to make sure it is all the way up before starting. Place some scrap cloth beneath the machine to protect the surface.

Disconnect the machine from the power source. Wipe away any lint, dust, and grime from the machine. Remove the bobbin case and slowly turn the wheel by hand and drop oil in the grooves. Make sure to coat the wheel completely. Wipe away excess oil with a clean rag.

Now, if the machine does not have any oil ports, the oil should be dropped onto the moving parts like the wheel spokes, gears, and other moving parts that are exposed.

Oil Ports

If the machine has oil ports, they should be located on the back, front, or side of the machine. Take off the plate to access the oil ports.

Make sure to fill the ports with the right oil type. Some machines require special vacuum oil while other require standard machine oil that is available at almost any sewing or regular store. Put the oil onto a q-tip or cotton pad and dab it onto the ports.

Gently turn the wheel to spread the oil over the parts that are lined with the oil ports. Check for oil leakage before replacing the cover.

Lubrication Process

The next step is to re-thread the machine and return the bobbin case. Turn the wheel and make sure it runs smoothly. If the wheel does not turn smoothly, it means that it is not lubricated enough. Re-oil the wheel and increase the lubrication.

Also, take a cloth and dab it gently on the moving parts to make sure that they are running correctly. There should not be any sound while they are running. If there is a sound, it indicates that there is a dry spot in the machine that requires more oil.

Take a can of compressed air and blow off the excess oil with it. Be careful not to blow oil into the needle holes and connectors. Once done, reconnect the machine to the power source and turn it on. Then, check the tension, stitch length and shape before turning it off.


Cleaning of a sewing machine should be done after every use. Ensure to keep the machine dirt free. This is to prevent the build up of dirt and dust that may clog up the moving parts of the machine. Brush off the lint beneath and around the machine and check the tension periodically.

Furthermore, check the tension of your threads as too much tension will cause the machine to stop or run slower. Too much tension will also cause premature thread breakage and process changes within the fabric. Last, but not least, make sure to regularly oil the parts that move in the machine. Without lubrication the machine will be harder to run.

Oiling Tips

Always use the right type of oil for the machine. Different types of oil may react differently with different machines. Also, do not over-lubricate the machine as this can cause more damage than benefit. Too much oil can get stuck in areas of the machine and cause it to malfunction.

Also, it is best to use a clean and soft cloth to apply the oil and not pour it directly onto the moving parts. This will help prevent the accumulation of debris and dust in the machine, as well as clean off any excess oil.

Additionally, follow the lubrication guide and diagram that come with the machine manual. This will help related the parts of the machine in an easy and understandable fashion. With the correct oil, following the guide correctly and cleaning the machine after every use, you can enjoy the highest level of performance from your sewing machine.

Willow-Lark Sewing Oil

When it comes to sewing machine oil, Willow-Lark Sewing Oil is one of the best choices. It is made in the USA and formulated for use in any spare parts, including mechanical and electronic components. This oil is resistant to thermal degradation, which means it will not break down and corrode delicate parts. It also won’t build up or form sludge, so it won’t clog any parts of the machine and ensuring smooth operation.

It is a light oil that is non-evaporating and also non-conductive and free from all acids. Willow-Lark Sewing Oil is also very affordable and it provides a great lubricating and penetrating property.

General Usage

To properly oil a sewing machine, it is important to take out any thread and bobbins from the machine and unplug it. When oiling mechanical parts, use just a drop of oil in each part and avoid spilling oil on the motor or electrical parts of the machine.

Use a dry and clean cloth to wipe off excess oil between threads and inside parts. Finally, every few months, perform a deep cleaning on the machine and clean all parts with a cleaning solution.

Safety Tips

It is important to not be rough when cleaning or oiling a sewing machine as this can damage the delicate parts inside. Make sure the machine is completely unplugged before cleaning and oiling it.

It is also important to not use regular gasoline, furniture oil, vegetable oil or other types of oil as these may cause damage to the machine. Finally, always read the instructions manual before oiling the machine to ensure you are doing it correctly.


Over oiling can cause premature wear and tear on the delicate parts of a sewing machine. So, it is important to lubricate your sewing machine correctly and regularly. Proper oiling can help you get better performance and efficiency, as well increase the life of the machine. If done correctly, you can enjoy smooth and quiet operation of the machine.

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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