Basic Sewing Machine Maintenance

Basic Sewing Machine Maintenance |

Basic Sewing Machine Maintenance |

Your sewing machine requires little special attention, so long as you’re following the proper steps to ensure none of its parts are damaged during use. However, there are some periodic maintenance steps you’ll want to take to keep it running in tip-top shape and producing pretty projects with no hiccups.

Be sure to unplug your machine before doing the following:


You’ll need to treat your machine periodically with sewing machine oil to ensure it is running smoothly. My manual recommends oiling the machine once per week when used for at least an hour a day, placing 2–3 drops at points including the feed dogs, area where the bobbin is held (the shuttle race), and the joints within the faceplate (where the needle is raised and lowered). Then, run the machine for a few seconds at a fast speed (without thread installed) to allow the oil to work itself into those areas.

Cleaning the Feed Dogs and Shuttle Race

How to Use a Sewing Machine |

As you sew, bits of fiber and dust will accumulate around the feed dogs beneath the needle plate (the removable plate covering the dogs, usually metal, that is marked with the guides you’ll follow to maintain your seam allowance. Use a coin or screwdriver to remove the plate, and then clean out any debris with a small brush.

How to Use a Sewing Machine |

The same goes for the shuttle race, where fibers like to accumulate behind the bobbin case and shuttle hook. Raise the needle to its highest position to get it out of the way, and follow your manual’s instructions to remove the bobbin case, retaining ring, and shuttle hook. Here is how mine comes out:

Then, use a brush to remove any debris from each of these parts, and follow by wiping the shuttle race and hook clean of lint with an oiled cloth. You can also use a can of compressed air intended for keyboard cleaning to really get into the small nooks and crannies of your machine, blowing away tiny particles that may be hiding there.

Yearly Servicing

It’s a good idea to take your machine to a service center once a year to check the timing and make sure everything is running smoothly. Following all these maintenance steps may sound like a lot, but it requires only a little bit of time and can not only improve the overall look of your sewing, but it can also significantly prolong the life of your machine.


That’s it! These are the basics to owning and operating a sewing machine. Do you have any additional tips for keeping a machine running smoothly? Let me know in the comments!

4 responses to “Basic Sewing Machine Maintenance”

  1. […] Next Up: Basic Maintenance Tips to Keep Your Machine in Good Working Order […]

  2. I do vacuum out that area, but have never oiled it. I know insert gasp here** hahahaha. I’m going to oil it today!

    1. Haha I had no idea how frequently I should be oiling mine until a couple of years ago, and I was so surprised at the difference it made! Do let me know when you try it, and whether it helps your machine run more smoothly!

      1. I hope it does help my machine. I’ve noticed my thread breaking a lot and the machine doesn’t seem to sew smoothly… a feeling of smoothness…hard to describe….hahahaha.

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