Whether you’re a seasoned sewist or new to the hobby, knowing how to look after your sewing machine can make all the difference to your results. Like any tool, a clean and well-maintained sewing machine will perform better and last longer.

But what’s the best way to clean and maintain a sewing machine? From lint removal to storing your machine in a sewing cabinet, here’s our guide to keeping your sewing machine in top condition.


How often should you clean your sewing machine?

Ultimately, this depends on how often you use your sewing machine. Are you a regular crafter, or does your machine only come out of your sewing storage cabinet once in a blue moon?

In general, it’s best to clean your sewing machine after every major project — or at least once every few months if you sew regularly.

Do you switch between different types of fabrics often? If so, cleaning your machine more frequently can prevent any residue or fibres from affecting its performance.

Likewise, if you notice any lint buildup or thread snags, it’s a good idea to inspect and clean your machine to stop the issue from worsening.


How to clean your sewing machine

Once you’re ready to clean your sewing machine, you’ll need to gather a few supplies:

  • A soft lint-free cloth
  • A small brush with soft bristles
  • Sewing machine oil (check your machine’s manual for recommendations)
  • Tweezers

Depending on your machine, you may also need a screwdriver.

It’s helpful to keep all your cleaning and maintenance tools in a sewing storage cabinet with your machine so they’re always close to hand.


Cleaning the exterior

First, clean the outer casing of your sewing machine. Unplug it and remove any pieces of thread or fabric. Use a soft cloth to wipe away any dirt, dust, or fingerprints, paying attention to the areas around the tension discs, needle plate, and presser foot.


Removing lint and dust

As you sew, lint and dust particles can gather inside your machine and in those tricky-to-reach areas around the bobbin and needle. Over time, this lint and dust can build up and affect how your machine works. Fortunately, it’s quick and easy to remove.

  • Open the bobbin compartment and remove the bobbin case.
  • Gently sweep away any dust from the bobbin area using a soft-bristled brush.
  • If your machine has a removable throat plate or needle plate, take it off and use your cloth to clean underneath.
  • Brush away any lint or debris around the feed dogs and the needle area.
  • Use tweezers to carefully remove any trapped thread or lint.


Cleaning the thread path

Have you noticed any tension or stitching issues? This could be caused by lint and thread accumulating in your sewing machine’s thread path.

To remove it, raise the presser foot and loosen the tension discs then brush any lint or thread away.


Oiling your sewing machine

It’s essential to keep your sewing machine oiled so the mechanisms and needle can move freely. Always check your sewing machine’s manual for specific instructions on how to oil it. However, as a general guide, you’ll need to apply a drop or two of sewing machine oil to the designated points indicated in the manual. Often, this will be areas like the bobbin case, shuttle hook, and needle bar.

After applying the oil, run the machine for a few minutes without any fabric to distribute the oil evenly then wipe away any excess oil.


Storing your sewing machine safely

As well as cleaning your machine regularly, storing it properly will help keep it running smoothly. When you’re not using your sewing machine, pop a dust cover over it and put it in a dedicated sewing storage cabinet. This will keep it dry, out of sunlight, and free from dust.


Protect your sewing machine with a sewing cabinet from RMF Sewing Furniture

At RMF, we have a range of sewing machine tables, desks, and storage cabinets to help you get the best out of your crafting set-up. Keep your sewing machine safe and tidy in one of our handy modular cabinets or craft tables. Browse our range now.