Most of the sewing experts already know the importance of performing regular sewing machine maintenance. Numerous big and small components work tirelessly to help you get the desired result.
Even if one component malfunctions, it can affect your entire sewing project. The maintenance need not be done every day or even every week. A good clean job on a monthly basis will go a long way in increasing the lifespan of your sewing machine.
This guide highlights all the major steps involved in machine cleaning that you can do without any professional help. Additionally, it also lists out the steps that you can take to ensure that your sewing machine is in good working condition.
How to Clean Your Sewing Machine?
Cleaning a sewing machine is not even half as exciting as stitching with one. This task may seem mundane, but it certainly cannot be avoided. However, before you begin the cleaning process, you must gather some essential cleaning supplies. While you can look at any sewing tutorial website to find out more about these cleaning supplies they typically include,
- A medium strength brush like a paintbrush
- A cleaning cloth
- A pair of tweezers
- A torch
- Thin and long fabric strips like a pipe cleaner
If your machine is fixed on an extension table, then the first step is to remove it from the table. Read the manufacturer’s manual and follow the exact instructions for doing this. Make sure that the power is switched off before you begin.
Even if you run your machine for a few minutes, fabric fiber and dust particles can settle in easily. Most of these particles and fibers collate in the throat plate. Therefore, this should be cleaned thoroughly. Remove the throat plate as per the sewing machine maintenance manual and clean it entirely.
Different machines have different throat plate removal mechanisms. Check if your machine’s throat plate is screwed in or if it can simply slide off.
Along with the throat plate, remove the bobbin case, the bobbin, the needle, as well as any other part that you can, for cleaning. Dust particles and lint from fabrics can sneak into the smallest crevices of your sewing machine every time you use it.
They can build up over a period of time if not cleaned and damage the intricate parts of the sewing machine. While specific lint cleaning brushes are available in the market, you can also use a paintbrush or even a makeup brush.
There is no need to replace the parts that you have removed for cleaning if they are not damaged. You just have to place them back at the end of the cleanup and make sure that you close the components in their original place.
So, it is essential to know which part goes where. In case you are unsure, it is best not to remove that component. You can also take a picture or note down the order to know how the pieces fit back in.
The needle bar and under the plate are essential cleaning areas. Use the cloth and the lint cleaning tools to thoroughly clean the pieces and the machine. Pipe cleaner stick is ideal for cleaning between the threader and the tension disc. You can also use a piece of paper to clean between narrow spaces.
You can easily use a handheld vacuum cleaner to give the machine a deep clean. However, there is no need to shop for one. You can just as well use a pair of tweezers to remove any dirt or pieces of threads.
While most traditional sewing machines require regular oiling, some new ones may not. So, before you pick up the bottle of machine oil, it is necessary to check the user manual and find out if the machine requires oil treatment or not.
This will depend on the modal of your machine. If your machine can be oiled, then make sure that you oil all the moving parts with sewing machine oil only.
A few drops of the right type of oil can ensure that your machine stays well-greased at all times. Even Martha Stewart recommends oiling the sewing machine as it prevents friction and reduces the overall wear and tear.
Another important step in the oiling process is the cleanup afterward. Make sure that you clean the machine of all extra oil. If you do not do this thoroughly then oil can get on to the next piece of fabric that you sew, and we all know how stubborn oil stains can be.
The final step is to install all the cleaned pieces back in the same order. You can now fix the sewing machine back on the extension table (if required) and proceed to plug it in. Once the machine is ready for use, you can set a trial pattern to make sure that everything is working as it should.
This 5-step sewing machine maintenance process will ensure that your machine is ready for use whenever you require it. It will also help you avoid any unnecessary breakdowns. Apart from monthly cleaning, you can also modify the manner in which you use and look after your machine to increase its lifespan. Some of these tips are discussed below.
You may also require a small vacuum cleaner, torch, as well as a magnifying glass to reach those finer parts and make sure that everything is in perfect working order. Once you have all these in place you can begin the machine maintenance.
Top 09 Sewing Machine Maintenance Tips
1. The Need for Machine Covers
Prevention is always better than cure. While you cannot stop using the sewing machine, you can always cover it after each use. Thanks to hardcovers, you can ensure that dust buildup is entirely prevented.
However, if you do not have one you can also use a cloth cover. Whatever covering method you use, just make sure that you wipe the sewing machine before covering it. Under no circumstances must you leave the sewing machine uncovered after use. Covering it up will go a long way in ensuring that your sewing machine is in good working order.
2. Regular Needle Change
Needles need not be changed during the monthly cleanup. However, make sure that you replace one every 8-10 hours of sewing activity. While needles will still work but they can result in looped threads. Dull or old needles can also damage the overall condition of your sewing machine. Also, make sure that you use needles that are appropriate for the type of fabric that you are sewing.
3. Annual Professional Service
Irrespective of the type of sewing machine you have, it must undergo an annual maintenance service in the hands of a professional. Even if the machine has not been used heavily, a professional service can help extend the life of your machine.
It is very important to ensure that your machine is in the right hands. According to Rachel Rasmussen, an experienced sewing machine repair service professional will not just clean your machine, but also make adjustments to the tension and timing to ensure that your machine performs efficiently.
Also, before you handover your sewing machine for annual maintenance, make sure that the professional has prior knowledge of working with that particular brand.
4. Use Good Quality Components
The quality of raw materials that you use for your projects can also determine the condition of your sewing machine. For instance, poor quality thread leaves more lint residue than high-quality threads. Similarly, glazed or waxed threads might look more attractive, but their extensive use can harm your sewing machine.
Threads and needles are 2 main components of any stitching project. Therefore, they must be of high quality. Dull needles can lead to stitching problems. It is also important to use different types of needles for different thickness fabrics.
As with most other machines, moisture buildup can cause a tremendous amount of harm to the components. Therefore, if you are using any compressed air or canned air to clean your machine then make sure that you hold the bottle at least 4-5 inches away from the area to avoid any moisture buildup. You must be especially careful around feed dogs and the bobbin area.
Never blow with your breath directly into these areas. Human breath carries moisture that can cause more damage than you think. Also, make sure you consult an expert before deciding on the type of air spray you can use for your particular sewing machine maintenance.
You might have bad working experience with your sewing machine if you fail to choose the right table for your machine. The machine and the table setup will definitely help you to improve your work.
6. Use Correct Machine Oil
The purpose of oiling your sewing machine is to make sure that all internal moving parts function smoothly. However, it is essential to use only the sewing machine oil. Using any other oil can harm your machine.
While selecting an oil, look for ones that are clear and colorless and make sure that you use only a few drops of oil. Also, wipe your machine after it is oiled to ensure that there is no residue left that can stain your clothes. It is important to keep these three things in mind while oiling your machine.
7. The Quintessential Bobbin Case
Before you begin any sewing activity on the machine make sure that you have checked the bobbin case properly. This little metal part is made up of numerous components and is most susceptible to catching lint in its small joints. So, it is recommended to check the bobbin case before you start sewing.
8. Threading the Machine rightly
Always make sure that you pin down the threading process rightly in order to avoid any possible damage. The best way to do this is by ensuring that the pressure foot is in an upright position.
9. The Importance of User Manual
Read the user manual thoroughly before you start using your sewing machine. Make note of all the ‘Do’s & Don’ts’ to ensure that you do not cause any inadvertent harm to your machine. Apart from installation and setup, the user manual will also recommend the power settings, the types of needles with respect to the types of fabrics that you are stitching, etc.
Some manufacturers also provide free online tutorials that you may refer to. Just follow the instructions and consult the manual when you are in any doubt.
Most user manuals also contain the manufacturer’s contact details. You can always reach out to them for any recommendations regarding machine oil, cleaning supplies, etc.
A sewing machine is an expensive piece of fashion creation machinery and you want to get the most mileage out of it. All sewing machine repair experts recommend regular maintenance for better results. As we have mentioned above, this maintenance need not be an elaborate exercise that you do before every project.
Just cover your machine after every use and perform a quick cleaning cycle every 4 weeks or so to make sure that the machine remains healthy as it ages. Also, the moment you feel that your machine is not working properly, it is important to show it to a professional expert.
You can also open a dialog with the manufacturer. Most manufacturers offer maintenance and repair services and they are the best options for troubleshooting as well.
Sewing machine maintenance and repair is a tedious work and it needs regular effort to keep it running all the time when you need it. Wipe and clean after every use and don’t forget to buy best swing machine for better performance. Good luck with your tools!